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Foraging for Dryad's Saddle

Finding, identifying and how to use Polyporus squamosus, more commonly known as Dryad's Saddle or Pheasants Back mushroom, an incredible Summer bracket fungus.

This is not a mushroom you can easily miss. Being a bracket fungus, it grows outwards from trees and stumps in often great overlapping displays. They can grow up to just over half a metre in diametre, becoming so heavy that they break away from the tree and fall to the ground. They grow on most broad leaf trees, mostly on dead wood as they help to break it down, but also occasionally on living trees.

Dryad's Saddle mushroom on a tree stump

The caps can be yellow to tan in colour with scales of darker brown, which spread out almost fan-like across the surface. Underneath, the mushroom is completely covered in pores which on young specimens are white and closed, yellowing and opening as the mushrooms matures. They attach to their host via a thick, woody stem which can make them difficult to harvest! You might have a better chance using a mushroom knife if you have one.

Once you've cut away the mushroom have a quick smell, they have a very distinctive watermelon or cucumber smell which is quite unique to this mushroom! They don't taste like watermelons unfortunately, but they do have a more 'fruity' flavour than most other mushrooms, at least that's what I thought!

Dryad's Saddle Mushroom Underside Pores

Their great size makes them very easy to spot and helps with identification, but if you want to eat them, then it's really the small, young ones which are the greatest prize. As the mushrooms mature they become tough and woody, often riddled with unwanted creepies and crawlies too!

While you might be able to use some of the large specimens to dry out, and crumble to use as stock, the best way to eat the smaller ones is too thinly slice them using a mandolin if you like fancy kitchen gadgets, but I've found that the slicer on a tower cheese grater works just as well. Gently fry them in a little bit of butter and water, with the lid on - you don't want them to dry out as they burn very quickly!

We're big fans of Japanese style food so we tend to use them as a side dish or topping for tofu or noodles, but I imagine they would make for a delicious breakfast mushroom <3

Dryad's Saddle Mushroom



The Cramlington Forager

Here I share my own recipes which I use to make the most of seasonal wild food. You'll find handy foraging guides and plant profiles to help get to know the plants which grow all around us, and to start you down your own foraging journey.


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