Boozy Chocolate Jelly Ear Treats

21st January 2013

I’ve got a day off from the wild food diaries today as Matt Adams one of our Apprentice Instructors has just submitted this fantastic recipe………..

Jelly Ear Auricularia auricula-judae

I first read of this wild treat in an article in the Bushcraft Magazine by forager extraordinaire Fergus Drennan and decided it sounded too good not to have a go, as it turns out my hunch was correct. So here’s my interpretation of it.

The wild ingredient we will be looking at is Jelly ear fungus, Auricularia auricula-judae which featured in an earlier blog here.

The Fungus itself is very distinctive, as the name suggests it looks remarkably like an ear (see image 2), a bit off-putting.

Image 2

However, with a little culinary wizardry it will become far more appealing. Locate and collect sufficient quantities of the fungus for your needs, making sure that you are 100% confident in your identification and you follow the forager’s code;

• Not stripping all the fungi from any one location.
• Ask permission if collecting from private property and do not trespass
• Do not collect near busy roads.
• Look for signs of pollutants surrounding the tree or anything which looks a-miss

Once collected the fungus should be washed well with clean water. Once clean the fungus needs to de-hydrated which can take between 1 and 2 weeks, depending upon humidity of the environment they are stored in. I did this by spreading out between sheets of newspaper on a tray see Image 3a before they were dried and image 3b, after they were dried to give an understanding of the reduction in size to be expected.

Image 3a

Image 3b

I did however find that during the drying process some small areas of the fungus had bonded to the newspaper proving difficult to remove fully, see image 4.

Image 4

You will notice that during the drying process the fungus reduced in size considerably and also went noticeably darker and far more brittle. The fungus can be kept in this state indefinitely if you aren’t ready to make the treats yet.

Once all the moisture, which has evaporated from the fungus, should be now replaced with your favourite booze or indeed cordial if children will be eating them, I tried out Amaretto and Raspberry liqueur, see image 5 + 6.

Image 5

Image 6

To do this, place the fungus in to a watertight, sealable bag or a bowl, ensuring they are fully covered. If using a bag, less liquid is required as periodically the fungus can be massaged which re-coats it, see fig 7.

Image 7

Leave the fungus to soak for approx 1 day, or until they have returned to original size, become soft/floppy and are fully saturated.

Once the re-hydrating process is complete, remove excess liquid by shaking and gently pat with kitchen roll, see image 8, but take care not to squeeze out the liquid.

Image 8

Next melt your favourite chocolate, dark/milk or white, by partially submerging a bowl in to boiling water, (Bain Marie) see image 9 and breaking the bar up in to small chunks before adding to the semi-submerged bowl. Dark chocolate worked well for me however, I believe that white chocolate would have been better with the raspberry liqueur.

Image 9

Once the chocolate is melted, you need to skewer your fungus using cocktail stick/bamboo skewers and dip in to the chocolate, fully coating and allow to drip off back in to the bowl. Once the excess has dripped off, the skewer needs to be pinned up and allowed to set for a couple of hours. I used a sheet of polystyrene, which had been covered with kitchen roll to do this, see image 10.

Image 10

Once the chocolate has gone hard and can be handled, your boozy fungus treats are ready to be enjoyed, keep in the fridge and consume within 2 weeks.

Best of luck and enjoy.

Fergus Drennan who’s article inspired this recipe, is about to embark on a 12 month experiment existing exclusively on wild foods. We at Woodland Ways would like to wish him the very best of luck with this endeavour and if you would like to support him please click here.

Matt Adams
Apprentice Instructor

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