How to Find and Prepare a Juicy Beefsteak Mushroom

A mushroom that looks, feels, is full of protein and even tastes like meat?

Photo Credit: Sam Harris

Next time you talk a country walk, keep an eye out for one of Mushrooms best kept secrets! Beefsteak fungi (Fistulina hepatica) or known regionally in the UK as Ox tongue fungi, is a great find when found growing on or near by beech or oak tree.

In fact there enough protein and goodness in one of those bad boys to feed your family a hearty vegetarian meal that they will all enjoy.

Surprisingly easy to identify, a beefsteak mushroom is a unique bracket fungi that just loves to grow in oak and beech woodlands, often found either on the roots or a few meters up the trunk of an ancient broadleaf tree.

The tip to finding a good location for these meaty mushrooms is not as you’d expect! Looking down on the ground is not going to help. In fact the best way to locate a tree that may have this fungi growing on or around the trunk, is to look for a tree with dead branches way up in the crown of for example an ancient oak tree. Look for a tree who’s outline looks more like a stags horn rather than the typical rounded tree shape, this royal tree is under extreme stress and as such likely to be host to a selection of fungi, both edible and non-edible tree clinging mushrooms.

Photo Credit: Sam Harris

Soft to the touch, bloody and looking like a piece of beef attached to a tree, this beauty really is a fantastic fungi, packed full of goodness you really are going to want to know how to prepare a beefsteak mushroom so your family can enjoy this nutritious mushroom for themselves.

Removing the fungi from the tree is not for the faint hearted and best be prepared with the necessary tools. Likely hood is when you first spot one unless your out hunting for mushrooms, you will need to go home collect a mushroom knife to remove the bracket fungi from the tree and a basket to carry it safely home.

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Once you have cut the succulent juicy beefsteak fungus from the tree trunk, you cannot help but notice how the mushroom fluids resemble blood, this is quite normal and just confirms you have found a beefsteak mushroom.

On arriving home and showing off your mushroom to the family, wash off the fungi throughly and stand it immersed in water for 30 minutes while you prepare the chopping board and a large carving knife ready to carve your find.

Now your beefsteak mushroom is clean, drain and place on the chopping board and begin slicing the fungi removing the layer of outer tough flesh and the any damaged or torn pieces.

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Begin slicing the beefsteak fungus so that you are left with thick slices of clean mushroom, place these slices in a bowl of clean water and stand for 30 minutes, changing the water at least three times over the next 2 hours to throughly remove the toxins from the mushroom (especially important if harvested from an oak tree)

Once throughly cleaned these slices can then be chopped and stood in a little milk for a further 30 minutes before adding to a hot skillet with a little olive oil, herbs and spices. I suggest using Italian seasoning and garlic powder, plus a few drops of soy sauce or mustard.

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I guess you want to know how it tasted and to be totally honest the first time I prepared this meaty mushroom, I was surprised at how much it resembles meat. Quorn has nothing on this beast, delicious and tender the texture melted in your mouth like the tenderest of beef.
My Mother and I enjoyed a free tasty vegetarian mushroom meal. I have found and cooked this Beefsteak mushrooms many times and look forward to the Autumn when I will return to this favoured spot. Since once you find a tree that is host to this fungi, chances is are will remain a source of protein for you and your family for years to come.

For more tasty foragers recipe ideas connect with Foragers School on Facebook or follow our blog for more cooking tips.
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Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consulatant

 

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“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

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About Head Gardener 331 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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