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