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Dryad’s Saddle

After I posted about oyster mushrooms the other day, someone asked me if there were any other mushrooms I might mistake for oyster mushrooms. In Southern Ontario this time of year, there isn’t much around that might cause confusion (although I say that, I also say that you should never consume any mushroom from the forest unless you can identify it with 100% certainty – always be sure!)

Another mushroom you may see growing from trees in the woods this time of year is the Dryad’s Saddle or Polyporus squamosus.

I usually see these low down on tree trunks. They are much firmer than oysters and have the characteristic brown on them. They also smell kind of like watermelon rind. I understand these are tough but edible, but that said, I know one naturalist who swears he ate some once and they made him sick. I’ve never tried eating these and don’t intend to try them.

1 Comment so far

  1. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    Dryad saddle is in fact quite edible. The big ones have a texture that is quite like a rubber tire. The small young ones are not really tough at all. The accepted test is to press end of your thumbnail against the mushroom. If it penetrates the mushroom it will be fine. If you cant poke a hole in it with your thumbnail you probably wont enjoy eating it. These mushrooms do indeed have an aroma similar to watermelon rind and their flavor is sort of unique and interesting when fried up on its own as it tends to carry a flavor that is a bit similar to its aroma. I have met several eastern europeans who really like this flavor. Their flavor is fairly mild and they readily take on the flavor of anything they are cooked with so in say a stir fry they will add texture without adding much flavor of their own. Since they start to fruit at the same time as morels it opens up the opportunity for a bit of trickery. On days when you find only a few morels you can cook them with some dryad saddle mixed in and the dryads will take on much of the flavor of the morels.

    Most mushroom pickers give up on these after trying a big old tough one. The young tender ones are well worth trying I think. I have never experienced any sort of digestion issues with them and I have eaten them fairly often, especially mixed with some morels. In the photo all but the very smallest will be already too mature. You want them when the ‘cap’ is less than 3 inches across.

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