Stalking the Wild Lion's Mane Mushroom

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About: I love to stay home as much as as I love to travel, I've been to 49 states (missing Alaska) and 31 countries. I have two wiener dogs now and a cat. We all live together in a house in the woods. With no roaches.

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.

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45 Discussions

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fes12

4 months ago

Hi, Thank you for this information. Can you tell me what are the creepy crawlers that you mentioned in your rights reading? I found one on my friend's tree, and we are planning on eating it tonight, so I am curious what might cause me to run screaming... :/

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Ninzerbeanfes12

Reply 4 months ago

Little pink worms. Since I've written that 'ible I've captured many more lions and only one other - larger than a football - had tiny pink worms. They won't make you run and scream. I tried picking around the but gave up. This is super early in the year for lion's mane - good for you!

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BarbaraW140

9 months ago

Found one of these as we were mushroom hunting late summer. I was about 5 feet above the ground. Did not know what it was..Now i do. Then a few years after that ..spotted one about 15 feet above ground on a tree.

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NinzerbeanBarbaraW140

Reply 9 months ago

They usually come back to the same trees every year.

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

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Jayefuu

2 years ago

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

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macgyver71

2 years ago

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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Ninzerbeanmacgyver71

Reply 2 years ago

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.

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snoop911

2 years ago

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

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Ninzerbeansnoop911

Reply 2 years ago

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.

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Dennis43snoop911

Reply 2 years ago

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.

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Ninzerbeansnoop911

Reply 2 years ago

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.

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Mojo-69

2 years ago

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!

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Iwannamakethattoo

2 years ago

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!!

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MichaelEarly

2 years ago

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.

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NinzerbeanMichaelEarly

Reply 2 years ago

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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MichaelEarlyNinzerbean

Reply 2 years ago

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