I don’t like to see oak trees cut in the Catskills too often because of their important wildlife value in the form of acorns, unless they are competing with a better quality tree or it’s just their appropriate time for harvest. However, one benefit of a cut red oak stump is its ability to provide a growing site for hen-of-the-woods mushroom. This mushroom–to me–rivals golden chanterelles in taste. I simply fry it up in butter. Also, what I’ve learned about picking wild mushrooms is the importance in harvesting as fresh as possible. In any case, this mushroom is a winner, especially when lightly salted and caramelized with maple syrup towards the end. It goes great as a garnish for another forest meal–venison steak. 

Ryan Trapani

Director of Forest Services

Catskill Forest Association