Edible Mushrooms, Pacific Northwest
The cauliflower mushroom is a wild edible mushroom that grows all over the Pacific Northwest in the fall. They are an incredible mushroom to look at and are very tasty. They are connected to their growing areas by system of mycelium that are kinda like a root system. When you harvest mushrooms, you should be careful not to damage the mycelium, if undamaged, they will fruit over and over again.
The cauliflower mushroom is a large mushroom composed of clusters of frilled branches emerging from a joined base. Its appearance resembles a coral reef, though its name suggests it looks like a head of cauliflower. Its surface and flesh color can be ivory white to pale cream. The texture is crunchy and firm, though brittle to the touch and must be handled carefully when you clean them.
The mushroom smells of musk and earth and the flavor is mild with notes of fennel and almond. The older, more mature specimens should be avoided as they can become quite tough and bitter tasting. If they are starting to get even a little brown to them, they are getting to old, the younger the mushroom, the better the taste. You can remove the old ones by cutting them just above the ground, this will bring new young ones in their place.
The cauliflower is subject to bugs because of its layers and must be carefully cleaned before cooking. Cut into pieces, sauté or dredge in tempura batter and fry. They go nice with rice, fish and fresh carrots. To store, keep them unwashed and refrigerated in a paper bag or between damp paper towels. Do not keep refrigerated for more than a week.The cauliflower mushroom can be found growing on the roots or base of conifer trees, they prefer pine and fir trees.