Introduction: Stalking the Wild Lion's Mane Mushroom

Found hiding high up on decaying trees these wily fungi are my all time favorite mushroom. I start stalking them in the late Fall and into the Winter in SC. Further North, into Vermont and New Hampshire they can be spied in late summer. Why do I climb 25 ft tall trees to hunt down and eat these particular mushrooms? BECAUSE THEY TASTE LIKE LOBSTER!

Step 1: On the Hunt

Bearded Tooth, Old Man’s Beard, Satyr’s Beard, Monkey Head, Bear’s Head, Sheep’s Head, Lion’s mane, Hedgehog Fungus, Tree Hedgehog, PomPom - these are some of the sneaky mushroom's aliases. While they may think using an alias will help them hide, they are impossible to mix up with any other mushroom.

Like being in the witness protection plan they live out their lives in plain sight because people searching for mushrooms are looking down - not up, but when you see one - so white against the tree it looks like a snowball, or in one of my hunts a white owl, you will wonder how you ever missed them before.

If you find a Lion's Mane mushroom that is dry and looks a bit shrunken, and you can't squeeze any water from it just leave it. Even if you do take it home, rehydrate it and cook it - it will be so bitter tasting that you will spit it into the sink. You may wonder if something is wrong with your taste buds and try another piece, and then you'll dump the whole pan into the garbage.

Step 2: After Capture

Most Lion's Mane mushrooms will come along peacefully once they have been spied, but just to be safe I always yell "FREEZE!" and point my knife at them. Then I read them their rights:

  • You have the right to have no bugs
  • To be free of dirt
  • And to have the presence of a tree
  • Any water that you may contain will be squeezed from you in a kitchen sink
  • You may remain silent but anything you say will make me scream and run back to my car and never hunt mushrooms again

There is a non-working GIF showing the mushroom being squeezed of it's water, this is something you will want to do just so when cooking it crisps up nicely. You can't squeeze too hard because they are like sponges and simply spring back into shape, minus the water.

Step 3: Preparation

Tear the mushroom into thick strands and heat up a heavy bottomed pan with butter, or olive oil if vegan. Stay away from any non-stick pan as that will only essentially steam your mushrooms (or any other food you try and cook in it) and not give you the crispy texture on the fringe ends.

If you use salted butter you won't need any salt after cooking. It used to be known that unsalted butter is fresher because salt helps to preserve butter, but that may no longer be true. So add a tiny sprinkle of salt when you are done cooking, not before as that will make them wilt. Have you ever noticed that if you add salt to sautéing onions that they don't get brown the same way as without adding salt. I think the salt makes them mushy.

Step 4: Devour

Using medium heat cook until they are crispy at the edges and a spotted golden brown all over - about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with just a bit of salt - preferably Maldon flake salt, or at least corse Kosher salt. If using regular finely ground salt be sure to be ever so sparing.

Comments

author

omg, I love these mushrooms! I'll have to see if I can find them in California!

author
Jayefuu (author)2016-11-22

I started foraging mushrooms the last couple of years. I don't think we have those here, though they look delicious!

author
Ninzerbean (author)Jayefuu2016-11-22

Thank you!

author
macgyver71 (author)2016-11-17

I've always been afraid to forage (colorblindness...), but seems kind of hard to mistake these for ANYTHING bad. I imagine I can find them in Pa since they grow as far North as NH and South as SC. Great instructable....you had me at lobster! :)

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Ninzerbean (author)macgyver712016-11-18

I have to admit that this year's foraging has not been very lobster-y, and I think it's from a lack of rain - has not rained in 5 weeks. But one I had late last spring - and I didn't know they grew that late was it's usual lobster self.

author
snoop911 (author)2016-11-15

There was a great episode of the Smart Drug Smarts Podcast that talks about the Lion Mane mushroom..

I know 4 Sigmatic sells instant coffee with it, but I'd love to grow my own! Any idea if I buy a kit (oregon/everything mushroom), can I grow my own continuously by collecting the spores?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIZQ39wYkI0

author
Ninzerbean (author)snoop9112016-11-16

I found a link for you https://gmushrooms.org/product/pom-pom-hecicium-lions-mane/
And that video was great, now I know why my mushroom mush didn't create mushrooms on the trees I smeared it on. Or why all the chanterelle scraps that I scatter in my yard don't make more chanterelles. Can you imagine being sick of chanterelles?, that is how I feel about them - there are so many where I live.

author
brucewestfall (author)Ninzerbean2016-11-17

Interesting. And where do you live...??

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Ninzerbean (author)brucewestfall2016-11-18

In SC, about 45 minutes north of Savannah, Georgia.

author
Dennis43 (author)snoop9112016-11-17

Snoops, Fungi Perfect up in WA sells kits for numerous types of shrooms, addy is www.fungi.com. And then out of CA is Gourmet Mushrooms, addy is www.gmushrooms.com.

author
Ninzerbean (author)snoop9112016-11-16

A few years ago when I fell in love with this mushroom there was little info online, but now you can buy spores - I can't remember who from though. You will have to do a search online.

I smeared the wormy one all over my oak trees but in two years since nothing has grown there, so at least I know what doesn't work.

author
Mojo-69 (author)2016-11-17

I've absolutely loved "morel" mushrooms all my life, but have never tried these. Now you've given me another great reason (besides birds, squirrels, and foliage) to look upward when hiking in the woods!

author
Iwannamakethattoo (author)2016-11-17

These mushrooms are incredible for the brain They're given to people who've had a stroke to help heal the brain. Great for memory. Read up on it. Prettty anazing stuff!!

author
MichaelEarly (author)2016-11-17

Great instructable. I loved the rights you read to your mushrooms :D

How far south can you find these? I live in central alabama and would love to get into foraging for 'shrooms.

author
Ninzerbean (author)MichaelEarly2016-11-17

IDK, I was just shocked after hunting them down in NH to be able to find them here in SC. I know someone in Savannah, Georgia who is a hunter as well and he sells his at the farmer's market - because he doesn't actually like mushrooms!

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MichaelEarly (author)Ninzerbean2016-11-17

I guess I should go searching then! But it hasn't rained here in 2 months so I might need to wait a while.

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Ninzerbean (author)MichaelEarly2016-11-17

It hasn't rained here since Hurricane Matthew (5 weeks?) and I found two in the last week.

author
ash_doge (author)2016-11-14

This was so much fun to read! Thanks for a great instructable :D

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Ninzerbean (author)ash_doge2016-11-14

Thank you!

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ash_doge (author)Ninzerbean2016-11-16

How did you get into Mushroom foraging? It sounds like a really fun hobby

author
Ninzerbean (author)ash_doge2016-11-16

I saw a man walking around in a circle looking intently on the ground so I pulled my car over, jumped out and asked him if he was looking for mushrooms - he just looked like he was doing that. He said yes and taught me about chanterelles and how you can't mistake them for any other mushroom and I was off like a rocket - I got an app for my ipad called Roger's Mushrooms and I studied every mushroom I found to try and identify it with the app. I don't like using the app on my phone 'cause the photos are too small, but on my ipad they are huge.

There is a great saying - There are bold mushroom hunters and there are old mushroom hunters - but there are no old bold mushroom hunters. Sage advice eh?.

Also I'm really cheap - chanterelles at the farmer's market are $30 or more a pound. No way was I going to pay that much for mushrooms I thought I could find - I mean if the guy at the farmer's market had found them then so could I.

The summer before this last one I became lost in the woods in NH while looking for Lion's Mane mushrooms and had to be rescued by Fish and Game and the 911 people - it was very frightening and even more embarrassing.

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DDW_OR (author)Ninzerbean2016-11-17

Here in Oregon at Sherms, chanterelles are $7.99 #

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Ninzerbean (author)DDW_OR2016-11-17

That's great!

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ash_doge (author)Ninzerbean2016-11-17

What an adventure! I'd love to try it sometime, is there much stuff online on where to go foraging?

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Ninzerbean (author)ash_doge2016-11-17

Not really, it's just about looking up vs looking down, people tend to be very secretive about where to find lion's mane mushrooms 'cause they tend to come back to the same tree each year, or the same patch of ground for chanterelles.

author
WVSundown (author)2016-11-17

I really enjoyed this. Thanks for posting.

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Ninzerbean (author)WVSundown2016-11-17

Thank you!

author
chuck.heaton.10 (author)2016-11-17

When you read the shroom its rights you were pictured squeezing water out of it, but you didn't really say that that was a step or explain how much water you should expect to get when squeezed? Otherwise nicely entertaining instructable.

author

Great point! Instructables is working on how I can get my GIF to work and I forgot to explain - I will do that right now, but in the mean time yes, you need to squeeze the living daylights out of your mushroom just because it's filled with water and they wont crisp up as nice when you cook them - or dehydrate them. If you cold squeeze a banana it would cook faster too. Or dehydrate which is my favorite way to eat bananas.

author
WyldStyl3 (author)2016-11-17

Awesome! I love mushrooms, but I've never heard of these....and now I'm hungry. I'm always going out into the woods to look for wood to use in other projects anyways. Thanks!

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Ninzerbean (author)WyldStyl32016-11-17

They are super easy to identify because they have the long tentacles - like a sea anemone, so you won't mix them up with any other mushroom, just keep your eyes upwards. I too love going into the woods to find stuff.

author
RigelBlue (author)2016-11-17

Lions Mane has been studied as The Top mushroom for nerve regeneration for people with MS. I buy it freeze dried in capsules, but had no idea that I could go foraging for the real deal! THANK YOU. !!!
So excited to get out stalking!!!

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Ninzerbean (author)RigelBlue2016-11-17

Really? I had no idea - good luck on the hunt!

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trimbandit made it! (author)2016-11-16

yummers

Jan 27-3.jpg
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Ninzerbean (author)trimbandit2016-11-16

Yummers indeed!

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trimbandit (author)2016-11-16

One thing I have found, is that if you find a tree with a lion's main, it will often produce for several years, so it's good to make a mental note(or gps it)

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Ninzerbean (author)trimbandit2016-11-16

Yes - I meant to add that - and just last night I feasted on a huge one from the same tree that last year I had captured two small ones.

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kylegilbert (author)2016-11-14

Tempted to try this if I ever find one. :)

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CoyaOo (author)2016-11-14

Wow they look awesome... Never seen them here in Germany tho :( but I'll keep my eyes open!
(Thanks for mentioning a vegan alternative for butter. Much appreciated)

author
hien408 (author)2016-11-14

Amazing mushrooms. Love reading your adventurous Instructables.

author
Ninzerbean (author)hien4082016-11-14

Thank you - that is inspiring to hear.

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mobilenee (author)2016-11-14

I love the writing. Well done.

author
Ninzerbean (author)mobilenee2016-11-14

Thanks!

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