When you dream of becoming a mushroom expert, the pheasant back mushroom is surely one you want to know about. If you like foraging for mushrooms, cooking delicacies, or getting all the health benefits of mushrooms, then this is the article you need to read.
What is a pheasant back mushroom?
The pheasant back mushroom is also known as dryad’s saddle, and it can be found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. You will likely find this mushroom growing in either clumps, or alone. For the most part, the pheasant back grows in April and May, but you may be lucky and find them during the summertime.
As you can imagine, the pheasant back mushrooms get their name because of the markings on their caps. While mushroom lovers may know this fungus well, not everyone knows how to find them.
This mushroom is not toxic, and you will not find a lookalike, so do not worry about finding others that could be harmful to your health.
You can look for them in the wild, or grow them at home if you have your mushroom spawn, log, and other instructions.
Here are the 7 things you must know about the pheasant back mushroom:
Tip #1. This mushroom grows on dead hardwood
Like many other mushrooms, the pheasant back mushroom also grows on dead hardwood, especially Elm trees. You will also find them in very wet areas, so if you are out and about foraging for mushrooms, and find dead trees near wet soil, look for this mushroom.
Tip #2. You can look for certain characteristics to make sure you have the right mushroom
If you happen to see a mushroom that resembles a pheasant back mushroom, check out the cap. If it is flat, or a bit depressed in the middle, then you have the right mushroom.
The flesh should be soft, but if it is tough, that is a sign that the mushroom may be old. The outside surface is also supposed to be tan or yellow, but it has black dark scales all over.
Your pheasant back mushroom will also smell sort of fruity, but once cooked, it can give off a lemony scent.
Tip #3. Not everyone likes this mushroom
For the sake of honesty, you should be aware that not everyone likes the flavor of the pheasant back mushroom. To some, the flavor resembles cucumbers, while for others, it is fruitier, like an apricot.
If you do want to try it, it is best when they are young and tender. The larger and older ones are still edible, but not as tasty.
Tip #4. You should use the right equipment
When you are ready to go harvesting for the pheasant back mushroom, it is best to have some things ready.
First, you will want to have a sharp knife that can help you cut the mushroom at the right time. This folding mushroom hunting knife comes with a brush as well. For a little more money, you can get a pair of professional mushroom knives.
Since this mushroom prefers wet soil and damp weather, you will likely be foraging in the rain, or at least have a chance of getting wet. Be sure to take your lightweight rain poncho or jacket and a good set of rubber rain boots.
Tip #5. Always keep good harvesting rules in mind
As with other mushrooms, you can easily ruin your pheasant back mushroom if you are not careful. The best way to preserve the mushroom is to use your knife and make a smooth cut that does not touch the cap of the mushroom. Do not twist your mushroom because you can tear the entire mushroom colony off, and this prevents any future fungi from growing.
A known harvesting rule is to also preserve the tree or bark where you found the mushroom. Be sure to avoid pulling or breaking any branches or wood.
Tip #6. Enjoy your pheasant back quickly!
For best results, consuming your pheasant mushroom within 12 hours is the right move. If you are going to cook your mushrooms, pick the young ones for better flavor.
If you harvest them correctly, they should complement any dish without an issue, and they can be tender and not chewy.
Before you cook, cut off any stems, as these are very woody and tough. Wash your mushrooms under a bit of water and in a strainer, but do not submerge them in water for too long.
Allow your mushrooms to air-dry and then cut them. In this case, we suggest you slice the mushrooms thinly so they can soften even more during the cooking process. Try a recipe like this tasty fried pheasant mushroom one!
On the other hand, if you happen to find mushrooms that are very large and look more mature, do not throw them out! You can certainly still use these in other ways. Older mushrooms are great for mushroom stock, sauces, dehydrated, or in mushroom powder.
Tip #7. If you do not like the taste, be sure to use your pheasant back mushrooms in other ways
As we mentioned before, not everyone is in love with the flavor of this particular mushroom. However, that does not mean all is lost, as you can still enjoy using this mushroom for other purposes.
You can add your mushroom to stock or broth and then drain it out, obtaining the nutrients without having to eat the mushroom.
The pheasant back mushroom can be dried in the sun, in your oven, or using a dehydrator. You can then blend it into a fine powder to use as a seasoning for other dishes by adding umami to any meal. This mushroom powder is also extremely nutritional, you having it around can elevate any meal you are preparing.
Why eat mushrooms?
If you are not sold entirely on the idea of looking for pheasant back mushrooms, then you should try them at least for their health benefits.
Like other mushrooms, the pheasant back also contains a good amount of fiber, especially beta-glucans, which can help remove cholesterol from the body and reduce blood sugar. You can also get vitamin D, B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.
You may be familiar with some of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities that mushrooms have. The pheasant back mushroom is also a good way to prevent oxidative damage in your body. In some cases, they are also added to the diet to prevent inflammation that may lead to cell damage and illness.
Time to give the pheasant back mushroom a try!
Even though it is not the most popular of mushrooms, or even the tastiest one, the pheasant back is still a good addition to your cooking and kitchen. Try it for yourself, and you will see how much it has to offer.
As a final tip, remember to cook only the young mushrooms. Use the older ones as a seasoning or in broth, but do not eat them alone.