Sulphur Shelf

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

sulphur shelf and chicken of the woods are the oddly contrasting popular names of a ‘bracket fungus’, Laetiporus sulphureus, which is found in Europe and N. America. It is a large, amorphous growth, yellow or orange, fluted on the upper side and with yellow pores underneath. It grows on dead stumps or logs, and sometimes on living trees (which it affects with a kind of heart rot) in late summer and autumn. Favoured hosts are eucalyptus and Douglas fir.

This fungus is popular in N. America but only in some European countries, notably Germany and to a limited extent France. Only the tender outer portions (soft to the touch) of young specimens should be harvested (they grow back, so further harvesting is possible). The taste is faintly acid. Texture has often been compared to that of chicken breast, but Arora (1979) draws a comparison between cooked sulphur shelf and tofu, and especially recommends sulphur shelf for use in omelettes. He judges specimens from eucalyptus to be the best.