So my next lot of foraged mushrooms were Jews ear or Jelly ear. I was initially uncomfortable with using ‘Jews ear’ but it is a part of the interesting mythology and hedge lore of the elder. ‘Jews ear’ is a mistranslation from Judas’ ear. It is believed that Judas escariot hung imself from an elder tree. Gruesome hey? Wether you call it jews ear, wood ear, jelly ear or something else (we like fairies baby ears -they outgrow them like teeth you know) the important part to remember is that it is the only fungus which looks like an ear, there are similar looking cup fungus but none look like an ear or are poisonous (according to my books and the foray Ive been on) It grows on dead elder.
I decided to dedicate a seperate post specifically to elder. Im sure there will be many more too, a quite magical and exceptionally useful tree.
Presumably the one on the left is a very young, just forming jelly/jews ear fungus, I think it’s too small to give much further consideration to, the photo on the right displays the shape very well.
Picked and turned over you can see how this fungus has gotten it’s name. The ‘proper’ name is A. auricula-judae. It is found all year but most common in Autumn, good for ‘halloweeny’ jokes and treats with children.
yummm youre thinking aren’t you?
Before you head for the hills, I will bet money that you have already unwittingly eaten this before, in anything containing mixed mushrooms. Especially mushroom soup.
They dry very well and will rehydrate back to their original size and texture. Interesting to note in China they are considered useful in treating cold and flu fevers and traditionally considered good for sore throats (much like elder berry recipes are) Interestingly proven to be effective in the general reduction of cholesterol levels. So the bacon and cream in the following recipe are optional (and also not vegetarian)
I had to use bought mushrooms as I am a new novice and have struggled to even find very much to identify, and what I have managed to find, and managed to identify at least the genus of, has rarely been edible. I have to say I’m not only interested in edibles. I’m truly a bit hooked and fascinated. Turns out I am not the only one having a hard time finding much to date, this year, so far.
I had a couple of cartons of the general white argarics you buy, argaricus bisporous to be specific, some portobellos (the same but mature) chestnut mushrooms (the same but brown) and a good sized handful of my fairy ears 😉 Make sure the latter are well washed (they can be tricky)
1 large onion
3 small cloves of garlic
herb infused oil, dried basil
plenty of seasoning
play around with whatever flavours you like, a small amount of spice is good, but dont overdo it, the flavour is very easily overpowered
finely dice the onion and garlic and add to the slow cooker with some oil
chop the mushrooms thickly and the bigger portobellos into 8, thinly sliced my ears which were fresh, you can add them whole if dehydrated then fish them out and chop them before blending
add them to the pot covering in your herbs and flavourings as you go
I poured over about 2 cups of boiling water and a added a handful of yellow lentils
blend when cooked
season to taste
swirl on cream (optional)
add crispy bacon strips and crutons (optional)
Also makes a great pasta sauce! Enjoy!