Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dryad's Saddles

Are pretty good utility mushrooms.  And plentiful...just when we're searching for morels (the Holy Grail of culinary mushrooms). According to the many bits of research I've uncovered, these polypores which grow on wood, were imagined to be saddles for the wood-sprites.  If you find young ones, you'll see why.  Or, in my case, great big COMFY ones, like those shown below.

I first noticed these ubiquitous mushrooms last spring when searching for morels with my good friends Stephanie and Mike.  The one I brought home last year was past prime, but gave me a taste (literally) of what they had to offer.

During my walk yesterday, I found scads of them, from tiny buds to HUGE specimens, like this (a generous "saddle" indeed!):

That's Mike.  Outdoorsman-extraordinaire.
DISCLAIMER: Always be absolutely sure before you eat ANY mushroom.  Check.  Check again.  And again.  If in doubt, throw it out.  Don't rely on me to clear them for you.

And that's the bottom Dryad's Saddle of the two Mike was posing with.  Looks more like a tractor seat to me! Note: don't bother harvesting if they're this large. My mistake.
Though I did harvest this large mushroom, I was only able to use the outside 3" of it.  Those below, also large, were equally disappointing.  They're simply too tough when they're large.

Here are some little sweethearts!  Small and fresh.

Bottom View
When they're small and tender, Dryad's saddles are good utility mushrooms.  I follow Steve Brill's (literal) rule of thumb: If you can dig into the flesh with your thumbnail, it's good to harvest.  I also follow his method of preparation.  I marinated mine for 24 hours, and had a lovely dinner tonight.  Thanks, Steve! 

Mikey with morels.


  1. So interesting! I'd be afraid I was harvesting the wrong thing. Are there many different varieties of the shelf type of mushrooms? I have some growing right outside my door.

  2. Teresa, read Steve Brill's info (Wildmansteve Brill). From what I understand, polypores that grow on wood are edible to some extent (varying by species) Some are friendlier to our guts than others. Dryads' saddles are pretty easy to identify. Use several resources. I note the polypore underside, the toothy checks on the surface, the fact that they grow on dead or dying wood, and the time of year. These are pretty easy ones. Get them early. And marinate, ala Brill. Some brackets cause stomach upset, but not these.