These mushrooms, also termed as ‘chicken fungus,’ are edible mushrooms that taste remarkably like chicken meat, earning it the name ‘chicken of the woods.’
The yellow and orange-colored fungal brackets that overlap and develop in bunches distinguish this mushroom species. If you want to learn how to grow chicken of the woods, you’ve landed in the perfect place.
While taken from a coniferous tree and chosen, the flesh is vividly colored and has a sensitive, velvety texture. This indicates a fresh, young mushroom which is a wonderfully edible fungus.
To avoid gastrointestinal problems, it should then be well rinsed and cooked. This tasty fungus is frequently used as a meat replacement in vegetarian meals, ranging from fried ‘chicken’ strips to soups.
Because it is a heart-rot fungus, you will see them flourishing high up on a tree. It develops and absorbs nutrients from wood as a heart rot fungal species, causing brown heart rot to form.
Because it is a parasite, it can kill or weaken its host tree. Let’s see the steps on how to grow Chicken of the Woods.
Things You’ll Need
- Drill with a 5/16-inch drill bit
- Ax or chainsaw
- Sponge brush
- Post-hole diggers or Shovel
- Mycelia plug or inoculate
How To Grow Chicken of The Woods: A Mushroom Growing Guide
Although the sinewy white meat and the orange-yellow surface of this colorful wild fungus spotted on the decaying wood of oak trees may not seem or sound very delicious, it is supposed to resemble cooked chicken breast, hence the name.
These mushrooms can be recognized by their wavy fan-like brackets that extend approximately 2 feet or more. These brackets are usually piled on top of one another, earning the nickname “sulfur shelf.”
The velvety caps range in hue from orange and bright yellow to pale pink, with borders having sulfur-yellowish color and having a velvety surface.
Step 1: Collecting Chicken of the Woods
This mushroom is a parasitic fungus that grows high on a tree, causing brown heart rot. It develops and absorbs nutrients from wood as a heart rot fungal species.
- If you want to grow it indoors, look for a live or dead tree that is at least two feet wide and 4-6 inches in diameter that you can harvest your mycelia plugs.
- After collecting the mushroom, use a shovel or post-hole diggers to dig out a healthy-looking part of the tree.
- Cut the fungus off the trunk with an ax or chainsaw and disinfect it with a mixture of bleach and water (1:8 ratio).
- Alternatively, if you’re looking for an easier way to grow them, you can purchase mycelia plugs that are ready to be inoculated.
Step 2: Preparing to Inoculate Mycelia Plugs or Wood Brackets for Chicken of the Woods
- If you are using mycelia plugs, make sure they are moist before popping them inside your holes.
- If not, you can dunk them in water for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- You’ll need to steam or boil it to induce fruiting over a long period.
- With a drill and a 5/16-inch drill bit, make holes on the inoculate and allow it to dry for another 24 hours.
- Leave a small amount of sawdust in the holes, and for inoculations, completely fill the hole with sawdust.
- Make holes in the softer, darker sapwood at the log’s end, spaced around 2 inches apart in a hexagonal pattern.
- Make sure you finish both ends of the wood log.
- Rows through the bark, along the edges of the log, should be spaced 2 inches apart.
- Drill rows in an offset pattern to create a hexagonal design.
- Insert plugs or chicken of the woods mycelia into your holes using a ruler.
- If you are using chicken of the woods brackets, cut out a piece that has yellow and orange-colored flesh on it and disinfect it with a mixture of bleach and water (1:8 ratio).
- Inoculate the log by hammering in mycelia-containing plugs or injecting a mycelia-containing liquid into the sawdust-packed holes.
- Inoculation would take place after your area’s last hard freeze.
Step 3: Caring for Your Chicken of the Woods Mushroom Patch
- Keep your wood brackets from drying out by coating them with cheese wax to provide moisture.
- Cheese wax can be bought online or at your local home improvement store.
- In a skillet, melt cheese wax until it is slightly smoking at around 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use a sponge brush to apply the cheese wax to seal the holes.
- Wrap wax around the log’s ends. If there is any evidence of damage or severe wounds around the log’s edges, you should wax those as well.
- To aid incubation, keep your logs in the shade.
- Just make sure you give them a good deep watering every few weeks, especially for those who live in a dry climate.
- In 6 months to one year, the inoculated log will grow mushrooms, and each log will last you five years!
- Let them grow for about six months to one year before they appear in white fluff balls that resemble cotton candy clusters, indicating that they are ready to harvest!
With these steps, you will know how to grow chicken of the woods mushrooms indoors. Enjoy your new harvest!
When thoroughly prepared and cooked, these are safe, edible mushrooms. It is best picked in its immature phase when the caps have a bright orange and sulfur-yellow color and feel delicate and porous to the touch.
Toxic artificial fungi with the same fan-like brackets and bright colors as chicken of the woods should be avoided.
Note that the safest and original variety, which lacks gills and only thrives on a deciduous tree, has a smooth, porous underside. These mushrooms appear in white fluff balls that resemble cotton candy clusters.
You can easily grow this mushroom indoors and enjoy the chicken flavor by following the steps mentioned earlier. It is ideal to use wood from maple or oak trees if you are trying to grow mushrooms at home.
Now that you know how to grow chicken of the woods, you may be able to produce bountiful yields and build a reliable source of fresh mushrooms for years to come.
While caring for these mushroom patches, there are a few steps to take depending on where you live. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you wrap your log with cheese wax.
This protects the mushroom from drying out during winter. Keeping the logs in a shady area would be best instead of direct sunlight.
If you live in a hot climate, make sure to keep your logs from drying out by keeping them in shaded areas. If you live in a dry climate, make sure to give the logs regular deep watering every few weeks.