There’s not much going on in Winter. Well, that’s a downright lie, there’s plenty going on, just not as much in the wonderful world of edible fungi. So it makes sense that more people are drawn to the plentiful Auricularia auricula-judae, or if we’re not rocking out the Latin; Jews, Judas, or Jelly Ears. Easy to identify by their startling resemblance to an ear and a great one for beginners due to their distinctive appearance, it is understandable that people are keen to find ways to get the most potential out of this unique find. Although commonly found on elder (generally where I’ve found larger specimens) all deciduous trees can sport them, I’ve found plenty on sycamore.
Regardless of what we like to call them, it’s frequently asked how we can possibly prepare them to be worth eating. Commonly used in Asian cuisine I first threw a handful of dried ones into a stir-fry, and I’ve got to say, I didn’t find it a pleasurable eating experience. Some weeks later I was more than apprehensive when they appeared on my plate at a wild food event hosted at Edinburgh Food Studio. A completely different encounter, tiny concentrated bursts of flavour completely captured my attention and I was keen to replicate this. Guest chef Gary Goldie advised to re-hydrate in stock – about a half hour in good quality stock, red wine & a generous spoon of mushroom powder creates a fabulous side to steak.
Trying something slightly different I further developed the idea of reconstituting in fruit cordial to coating in chocolate, creating a high quality treat that is easy to make, looks good and is perfect for those cold nights in. Plus let’s face it – chocolate covered mushrooms have surely got to be the next hipster fad, right?
Chocolate Robed Fruit Ears
2-3 Handfuls Jelly Ears (before drying)
Double strength fruit cordial
Dark chocolate (good quality)
After foraging your Ears wipe clean of any earth or dirt. Be thorough – little pieces of grit don’t add a nice crunch!
Slice thinly into 5mm diameter.
Leave to dry on a paper town in a warm, dry area for 2-3 days.
Re-hydrate by covering with fruit cordial and leaving for 1-2 days in the fridge. Raspberry, orange and lime all work well.
Melt chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water.
Remove from heat.
Pat the Ear strips dry and coat each one individually with chocolate.
Leave to set on some greaseproof paper.
Wonderfully easy to make, a range of flavours is possible. Why not try liquor or ginger ale?