If you’ve ever spent time in the woods during the winter months hunting for game or just taking a nice long hike, then you most likely already have observed this wild edible mushroom species, Flammulina velutipes. This edible wild mushroom is one that many amateur forager’s won’t take the risk and avoid them. If you’re looking for more information on velvet foot mushrooms, stay tuned and read on below to learn more about this mushroom and how you can find it and feel safe with identification.
What is a Velvet Foot Mushroom?
Velvet Foot Mushrooms or Enoki is a mushroom that is well-known for its role in Japanese cuisine, where it is also known as Enokitake. Commercially-farmed enoki is a long, thin white mushroom and is a popular ingredient for soups, especially in East Asian cuisine, but can be used for salads and other dishes.The biggest question that you are most likely wondering however, is if you can eat wild velvet foot mushrooms.
Are Velvet Foot Mushrooms Edible?
Yes, but there’s a bit of a catch to how edible they really are. That’s because there are some occasions that you will not want to eat the Velvet Foot Mushrooms mushroom depending on where you find them and what condition they’re in when you harvest them. If they’re in the right condition and in the right place, congratulations, you’ve found one of the few winter wild edible mushroom that you’re sure to enjoy. Velvet Foot Mushrooms have a decent flavor profile and texture that exceeds many common mushrooms including a portabella.
Now that you know Velvet Foot Mushrooms are in fact edible, let’s discuss much more about this fuzzy stemmed natural treat.
So, are Velvet Foot Mushrooms Poisonous?
There are some mushrooms like false morels that many people will eat but can be poisonous when consumed in too great of a quantity. However, this isn’t the case with Velvet Foot Mushrooms.
Can You Eat Velvet Foot Mushrooms Raw?
No, you should never eat this mushroom raw. This is for a few different reasons. This is because the enzymes in most wild mushrooms will not break down properly during digestion without first being cooked. Second, many wild mushrooms can often harbor insects, insect eggs and larva. So, while you may not see any insect activity on initial inspection, just imagine how it would feel to have larva crawling around after taking a bite. So, since you can’t eat them raw, what’s the most common way to enjoy Velvet Foot Mushrooms?
Cooking Velvet Foot Mushrooms – A Beginner’s Guide
As is the case with many different mushroom species, there are a whole lot of different ways you can cook Velvet Foot Mushrooms. Everyone has their own unique favorite recipe based on their region, heritage and how they’ve enjoyed them in the past. Chris has fixed dozens of batches of these mushrooms over the years and his preferred method that he claims is often the easiest for newcomers to the mushroom is to simply use it in a wild mushroom soup. You can also simply sauté in butter and olive oil with some minced garlic and top your steak or chicken.
More Delicious Ways to Prepare Velvet Foot Mushrooms
There are numerous other delicious recipes that you can incorporate these mushrooms into. Just a few you should consider that can be found for free online include:
If those recipes aren’t enough to keep your wild mushroom meals new and engaging, you can also find over 80 wild mushroom recipes including several more Velvet Foot Mushrooms recipes in Chris’ Mushroom Hunter’s Cookbook. There’s one key thing that you must do before you can ever worry about how you’re going to cook your mushrooms. That thing being the simple fact that you must first find a nice batch of them growing in the wild.
How to Find Velvet Foot Mushrooms
To have the best luck hunting, there are a few things that you need to consider before heading out into your local woods. First, you need to know when these delicious wild treats arrive. Second, you need to know where you should be looking to have the most success possible and finally, you need to make certain you’re harvesting the right kind of mushrooms. Thankfully there aren’t too many other species in the woods that resemble Velvet Foots, but more on that below. For now, let’s talk about when you can expect to find Velvet Foots in your area.
Velvet Foot Mushroom Season – When do they grow?
The Velvet Foot Mushroom appears in most areas of the United States from late October and throughout the entire winter months as freezing temps will only slow their growth and not harm them.
Where do Velvet Foot Mushrooms Usually Grow?
Velvet Foot Mushrooms are decayers and are found on dead or dying standing trees and can also be found on fallen trees and logs. While they can be found on a variety of tree species, there are a few trees where the mushroom is far more common. You can find more information on what trees to look for in the hunting tips below.
Are there any Poisonous Look Alikes of Velvet Foot Mushrooms?
The only poisonous mushroom that is slightly like velvet foot mushrooms is called “Deadly Galerina”. See photos and descriptions below including how they differ from velvet foots.
How to Identify Velvet Foot Mushrooms (Enoki)
Thankfully, this mushroom is considered one of the easier wild mushrooms to identify. This is primarily due to their nearly black velvety stem at the base that fades to a bright orange where it attaches to the cap of the mushroom. They also grow in massive clumps. After a rain, the caps become very tacky to the touch.
Below are several photographic examples of Velvet Foot Mushrooms that you can reference for positive identification.
NOTE: The images below are thumbnails, click them to see full sized photos.
ALWAYS REMEMBER: If you’re unsure about any wild mushrooms identification, be certain to get it confirmed before consuming. The best way to do this is to first go on a guided mushroom foray. You can find guided forays in many areas locally, or sign up for one of our guided forays that Chris hosts all over the United States. If you’re already a member of the Morel Mushroom Hunting Club, you can text Chris directly for identification confirmation.
Once you know how to successfully identify and cook velvet foot mushrooms you’re probably going to want to find as many as possible. Below are just a few great tips to help your harvest increase to an entirely new level.
Hunting Tips to Find More Mushrooms
Below are just a few tips to help you increase your velvet foot yields time after time.
Remember Where They Grow –Remember that velvet foot are always found growing on or at the base of dead standing trees or on logs that have already fallen. You will never find them on the ground or in fields and other similar areas.
Remember Where You First Found Them –Velvet Foots will often return year after year. Also, if you find them in the early spring, be sure to check back in the same place in the fall as they will often reappear once again.
Get to Know Your Trees –Velvet Foots prefer standing dead hardwood trees especially elms. While they can grow occasionally on other dead hardwoods, they are most often found on elms.
Start Eating Slowly –Just start slowly until you’re certain you enjoy the taste and aren’t allergic to the mushroom. This is true for trying any new wild mushroom species for the first time.
Find Young Specimens –Velvet Foot Mushrooms become tough with age and tend to dry out after numerous freezes and have a better taste when harvested young. Look for smaller specimens for the best results.
Check often in the Maps Section of this website to see where velvet foot mushrooms are currently being found.
Once you start finding larger yields of Velvet Foot Mushrooms, it’s important that you know how to properly harvest them. Since the are commonly found in large clumps, using a sharp knife and slicing them off the tree works best, leaving the base where it attaches to the tree. This also makes cleaning much easier.
What Hunting Equipment Should You Use to Harvest?
Some mushrooms, like morels, are best carried in mesh bags to allow for better spore distribution. Velvet Foot Mushrooms however, should be placed in a large basket or bucket bag to better transport the mushroom as one large clump can weigh as much as 5 pounds. Additionally, it can be very challenging to harvest Velvet Foot Mushrooms with your hands since they can sometimes be very tacky or sticky. Because of this, you will need a large kitchen knife, a hunting knife, or a mushroom knife.
This should be all you need aside from a comfortable pair of shoes to begin harvesting your own Velvet Foot Mushrooms.
How to Clean Velvet Foot Mushrooms
Once you have collected all the Velvet Foot Mushrooms you like, it’s time to get them home and prepare them for either cooking, as covered above, or storing. Either way, the first thing you’re going to need to do is to clean and cut your fresh harvest. To clean your Velvet Foot Mushrooms, just rinse them with cold water and NEVER soak them. This is because since they will absorb the water, affecting taste, become soggy and increasing preparation time significantly. You can use a brush to remove excess dirt, but Velvet Foot Mushrooms is normally a very clean mushroom already. Be sure to slice off any debris where they were attached to the tree.
After you have thoroughly cleaned them, it’s time to either store or cook them. For cooking tips, please see the recipe section above. For storage, you have a few options available.
What’s the Best Way to Store Velvet Foot Mushrooms?
While there are several different ways that you can store Velvet Foot Mushrooms, Chris recommends drying them either laid out on newspaper with a fan blowing over them. Or you can use a food dehydrator. If you use a dehydrator, turn the heat off if possible as heat will tend to make them turn very dark. Once entirely dried and crispy, store them in plastic containers in a cool place and they should last several years and reconstitute perfectly for soups and sauces. You can also try freezing them by separating them on a cookie sheet, once frozen then and vacuum seal them in bags and place back into the freezer. Chris states this will allow your mushrooms to keep for up to 5 years and come out of the freezer tasting like you just picked them yesterday. There is no blanching or cooking necessary.
Can You Freeze Velvet Foot Mushrooms?
As mentioned above, not only can you freeze them, it’s the most recommended way to preserve the mushrooms.
Can You Dry / Dehydrate Velvet Foot Mushrooms?
Yes, you can dry / dehydrate Velvet Foot Mushrooms. Chris has found that they do reconstitute well, especially when used in soups.
We hope that you now have a far greater understanding about the Velvet Foot Mushrooms mushroom. Hopefully, you now feel confident going out to find your own. You should be able to not only identify them, but also clean, cook, preserve and share this wonderful wild edible treat from nature with those closest to you.
Have You Ever Hunted or Found Velvet Foot Mushrooms Before?
Have you had the opportunity to hunt or eat Velvet Foot Mushrooms? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please take a moment to share your stories, photos and recipes in the comments area below and thanks for stopping by!
Planning to Go on a Hunt?
Are you planning an upcoming hunt for Velvet Foot Mushrooms? If so, don’t forget to also be on the lookout for some other great mushrooms you may find along the way like:
Always be certain that you know exactly what mushroom you’ve found before eating it. When in doubt, get confirmation from someone familiar with mushroom hunting. You can also check with others in your local area for guided mushroom hunts or sign up today for one of Chris’ guided edible mushroom forays where you can learn more about your own native edible mushroom species.
Are you ready to take your mushroom hunts to the next level? Are you tired of trying to find someone to help you identify the mushrooms you in the woods? If so, take a moment to sign up for the Morel Mushroom Hunting Club. By doing so, you can enjoy benefits like:
Member Submitted Photos
Mushroom Questions and Answers
Places to Hunt
Identification Help: Text Chris directly with pics of your finds you need help identifying. Chris will respond within 24 hours!