Pig’s Ears Wild Gourmet Mushrooms

Jun 11, 2011 by     18 Comments    Posted under: Focus Ingredients, Mushrooms
Pig's Ear Wild Gourmet Mushrooms

Pig's Ear Wild Gourmet Mushrooms

The Pig’s Ears mushroom (Gomphus clavatus) is in the Chanterell family, and is found at the same time and areas that Chanterelles are found.  They tend to grow in large clusters, so if you find one, you will likely find many many more close by.  The photos in this post were taken from a Fall foray a couple years ago.  We walked into a giant crop of Pig’s Ears and filled up a 10 pound box with them.  They were everywhere!  And only a few hundred feet away we found 10 pounds of Chanterelles as well!  Oh what a tasty gourmet adventure that day provided….

How to Identify Pig’s Ears Mushrooms

  • The surface of the cap does not have scales, and the edges of the cap are usually fluted upward and are wavy.
  • The cap is a yellowish-brown to tan in color.  It can be somewhat olive colored with age.
  • The underside of the mushroom does not have gills, is somewhat purple in color, and has ridges that run down the stalk almost entirely to the base.  The purple color is its most distinctive identifier.
  • The stalk is completely solid, never hollow inside
  • The flesh inside the cap/stalk is white
  • The spores are pale tan in color
  • Grow in the Fall
  • Grow in old mossy coniferous forests on the ground or on rotten wood.  They are usually found in large clusters, arcs, or rings and can yield very high quantities.

Edibility of Pig’s Ears Mushrooms

These are truly exceptional mushrooms.  They have a very firm and meaty texture, which holds up well in soups, sauces, and baked dishes.  They have a great musty and earthy aroma and flavor, and pair perfectly with dark meats such as beef or lamb.  Butter, garlic, wine, stock, and thyme make the Pig’s Ears a thing of glory topped on a steak.  They cook up nice and dark, and are just beautiful against the canvas of a white plate.

Unfortunately, other creatures in the forest have discovered how good Pig’s Ears are as well, so you’ll need to watch for maggots in the mushrooms.  There’s nothing more disappointing that seeing a bumper crop of these gourmet treats ruined by creepy crawlies.  But rather than throw your entire harvest away, you could try parboiling them.  This will kill and remove a good majority of the maggots for you so you can still eat the mushrooms.  It sounds crazy, but these mushrooms are so delicious that a few cooked worms in them doesn’t even matter in the end.

How to Preserve Pig’s Ears Mushrooms

Though they may dehydrate well (I haven’t tried), Pig’s Ears freeze extremely well.  Just par-boil them first, spread them out on a baking sheet, and stick in the freezer to freeze.  Once frozen, remove from the baking sheet and place in a zip top freezer bag or vacuum seal bag.  They will preserve for a long while this way, and keep their firm texture when thawed.

Pig's Ear Wild Gourmet Mushroom

Pig's Ear Wild Gourmet Mushroom

The Bald Gourmet loves mushroom hunting, especially when finding the amazing gourmet treat of Pig’s Ear mushrooms.


18 Comments + Add Comment

  • I just found several pounds of firm, young, non-buggy pig’s ears today–more than we could eat fresh. How long should they be parboiled? 1 minute? 3 minutes?

    Last week I found 2 bunches and made the MOST amazing pasta with them: sliced 1/8″ thick, had about 4 cups mushrooms, sauteed in butter until tender, cranked up the heat to sear them, turned heat off, tossed in 3 cloves minced garlic to cook in residual heat. S/p to taste, a splash of cream. Served over fettuccine. Scrumptious. It was my first time cooking/eating them and I was very surprised to find that a lot of people don’t like this mushroom and that it could cause mild indigestion (maybe from not cooking thoroughly and thereby ingesting the common maggots??).

    • Hi Julie. I’m jealous of your find! Pig Ears are some of my favorites. And it sounds like you cooked them quite well. Cream, garlic, and mushrooms is just one of those perfect combinations. As for parboiling them prior to freezing, just a couple minutes is all they need. Make sure to drop them in an ice bath afterwards to stop the cooking, then freeze for storage. They should be good for a few months that way. They are great in risotto, with chicken, and just about anything else. Enjoy your bounty!

  • Well I picked the pigs ears for the first time and loved them, they have a taste like a Chantrelle but texture of a Sporassis, and I now know where they grow, and once I got a lock on how to find white chantrelles I get them every year, sometimes more then the yellow. this fall has been a bumper crop (fall 2013) never leave the woods with less then 40 pounds. (NW Oregon)

    • Rob,
      Thanks for commenting. Pigs Ears are good. I just picked a bunch the other week while in SW Washington, and enjoyed every bit of them! 2013 is a CRAZY mushroom year! We picked several pounds of pigs ears, over 40 pounds of chanterelles in about 6 hours, plus another 20 edible varieties in great abundance. What a great time! Tasty treats for sure. It’s hard to believe that many people don’t pick white chanterelles, thinking they are not edible or not worth the eat. They are fantastic, and so are pigs ears! Happy hunting to you.

      • I tend to pick easy to identify mushrooms, I need to learn a few more, the elfen saddles are good but require a lot of prep, an finding fresh ones in any amount is difficult the Oysters are great and I always look for those. fried chicken mushrooms, when you find them you can fill a truck and sulfur shelf are not common in the forests I pick in these days. I like taking new pickers, and this year is a great one for beginners.

        • For sure!

  • I have Mushrooms Demystified. While it’s still a wonderful book, it’s dated. ;-) Much DNA work has been done in recent years resulting in big shakeups in the old taxonomy… If you read the cites at EOL, you will see that Gomphus was removed any connection with the cantherelles. Please read further in both cites and you will see…

    “In addition to synonymy, many species have been moved into other genera such as Arrhenia, Craterellus, Gomphus, …”

    Fungi +
    Basidiomycota +
    Agaricomycetes +
    Cantharellales +
    Cantharellaceae +
    Cantharellus Adans. ex Fr. 1821

    Fungi +
    Basidiomycota +
    Agaricomycetes +
    Gomphales +
    Gomphaceae +
    Gomphus +

  • Gomphus clavatus is NOT in the Cantharellus genus.



    • Bunny, nice references at EOL. Yes, chanterelles and pig ears are different species of mushrooms, much like meadow mushrooms and prince mushrooms. However, chanterelles and pig ears are in the same Cantharellaceae family, and thus are cousins, at least according to David Arora, whom I consider the king of mushroom knowledge. On page 658 of his book, Mushrooms Demystified, he reviews the Cantharellaceae family, which includes Craterellus, Cantharellus, and Gomphus. If you do not own his book, I highly recommend it to you. So when I say that pig ears are in the same family as chanterelles, I’m referring to the larger Cantharellaceae family David Arora references. Regardless of scientific classifications and opinions, they are beautiful and delicious mushrooms. Go pick them and eat them!

      • “much like meadow mushrooms and prince mushrooms”

        Both are in the genus Agaricus, yes. “The Prince” – Agaricus augustus is a super edible, I collected some a few weeks back on the southern Oregon coast, sure wish I could find more! It almost rivals Boletus Edulis, yum!

        I neglected to correctly reply to your reply, perhaps it would be appropriate to combine my new comment with this reply to your reply. ;-)

        • Thanks Bunny. The Prince is absolutely amazing. I spotted some in Portland while driving going 65 down I-5 once. I took the next exist, back tracked, picked my harvest of 6 giant Princes, drove home, and ate their deliciousness!

  • for 2 generations we have picked a certain mushroom dark brown top bright yellow underside dried them by hanging them and using them in soup we have never known the name, exdcept my dad called them pigs ears, but looking at your pictures of them that is not the case. I know where to find them every year and they are under certain trees. but i would like to have a name .

    • Cathy, are they spongy underneath, meaning they don’t have gills but rather just spongy pores? If so, they are boletes. Google bolete images and see if that’s what your picking. Boletes are probably my favorite mushrooms, and is the family that the famous gourmet porcini mushroom comes from.

  • Pig’s ears dry well and constitute well too.
    Last month I made a mushroom soup with pig’s ears, chanterelles and man on horseback. One of the mushrooms was bitter, I feel it was one of the pig’s ears. Is there anyway to test if it will be bitter before cooking? A touch on the tongue? Any info would be appreciated.
    Many thanks.

    • Loraine,
      Thank you for the comment. To answer your question, I have not found Pig’s Ears to be bitter. They have always just been very earthy tasting to me and maintain a wonderful firm texture when cooked. I suppose it is possible though. I have had a Chanterelle once that was bitter and quite foul. But it was a reconstituted dehydrated one that was old, and upon inspecting my dried chanterelle supply, found that several had absorbed moisture and had gone bad on me. I’ve actually never had Man on Horseback. So this sounds like a mystery to me as well. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. But thank you again for your question and for reading The Bald Gourmet. I hope you find it useful and enjoyable. Happy eating!

  • Thanks for this advice. I’ve not tried drying pig’s ears, but have been disappointed in the results of trying to dry chanterelles–they just don’t reconstitute well.

    • I agree, chanties do not rehydrate well at all! They are tough a rubbery when reconstituted. I have been making marinated and pickles mushrooms lately with great results. I came here looking around to confirm our positive ID of the these lovely pigs ears we just found. Great article!

      • Thanks Valerie. Pig’s ears are some of the best! Pickled Chanterelles sure sound tasty!

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