Edible mushrooms in a healthy diet

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Fungal Food

     When it comes to mushrooms as a food there seems to be no middle ground. For some it is a delicacy, for others it is disgusting. R. Gordon Wasson has said that people are either "mycophiles" or "mycophobes" and this does not prove itself any better than the way people react when they see a mushroom sitting on their dinner plate. In gourmet cooking mushrooms are hailed for their flavor and texture. For others it can simply be a mainstay of their diet. Whatever the reason, fungi can add novelty and character to a healthy diet. Aside from eating the mushrooms themselves, many foods are products of fungi interactions such as blue cheese, soy sauce, miso. and tempeh.

     Of the 10,000 species of fleshy fungi known, only a small amount are deadly poisonous. Unfortunately those deadly poisonous mushrooms can be quite common (Kendrick). It is wise to only eat mushrooms that can be identified to its species name, not just its genus. About 20 genera contain prime edibles, but species within such genera may vary from choice edible to toxic, such as in Amanita and Agaricus (Kendrick).

Cultivated Edible Mushrooms

Portobello
Scientific name: Agaricus brunnescens (syn. A. bisporus)
Other Common names:Supermarket mushroom, button mushroom, White button mushroom
Family: Agaricaceae
Description: This very popular mushroom is often "the" mushroom seen in supermarkets across America. Annual world production of this species is one million ton (Kendrick).

Himematsutake
Scientific name: Agaricus blazei
Other Common names:Almond portobello, royal sun agaricus, king agaricus
Family: Agaricaceae
Description: Highly popular in Japan, the himematsutake mushroom has a sweet almod taste (Stamets). It has a slippery texture. It is highly expensive and spawned a $600 million industry in Japan since 1995 (Stamets).

Oyster mushroom
Scientific name: Pleurotus ostreatus
Family: Tricholomataceae
Description: More than seven species of Pleurotus have been domesticated and markete. Over 20,000 tons produced a year (Kendrick).

Shiitake
Scientific name: Lentinula edodes
Other Common names: Xiang-gu, golden oak mushroom
Family: Tricholomataceae
Description: Widely used in oriental cuisine, it has been cultivated by the Chinese and Japanese for 2,000 years using oak and chestnut logs. The mushrooms take a year or more to form. Dried shiitake may retail for up to $40/kg. Over 150,000 tons produced annualy (Kendrick).
Paddy Straw Mushroom
Scientific name: Volvariella volvacea
Common name: Straw mushroom, Chinese mushroom
Family: Pluteaceae
Description: Used in the far east and in Chinese cooking in the west. World production is 60,000 tons/year (Kendrick).
Enoki
Scientific name: Flammulina velutipes
Common name: Enokitake, winter orv elvet stem mushroom
Family: Tricholomataceae
Description: Enoki has long been known and cultivated in Japan. World production is 40,000 tons/year (Kendrick).

Nameko
Scientific name: Pholiota nameko
Common name: Slimy mushroom
Family: Strophariaceae
Description: A Japanese mushroom produced at 15,000 tons a year (Kendrick).

Wood ear
Scientific name: Auricularia polytricha
Common name: Tree ear, Cloud ear, Mu-er
Family: Auriculariaceae
Description: Tree ear is a jelly fungi used in Chinese cuisine. It has a slippery, crunchy texture. There may be medicinal value which lowers blood clotting. 8,000 tons produced a year (Kendrick).
Truffles
Scientific name: Tuber melanosporum
Common name: Black, Queen, or Perigord truffle
Family: Tuberaceae (Class Ascomycetes)
Description: Known by the French as the "diamond of the kitchen", truffles hold high status in French culinary culture. In fact an old saying goes, 'Ta femme, tes truffes et ton jardin, garde-les bien de ton voisin,' which means 'Your wife, your truffles and your garden; guard them well from your neighbor.' There are yearly truffle festivals in northern Italy. Prices at markets can reach up to $60 for a fist sized truffle. Prices for a kilogram can be as great as $1000 (Kendrick)!
Morels
Scientific name: Morchella sp.
Common name: Land fish mushrooms
Family: Morchellaceae (Class Ascomycetes)
Description: Considered my many to be the supreme edible fungi. In mid may, half a million people descend on the hills of Michigan to hunt for M. angusticeps and M. esculenta. Michigan also holds many morel festivals (Kendrick).
zhu-Sun
Scientific name: Dictyophora duplicata (syn. Phallus indusiatus)
Common name: Bamboo sprouts
Family: Phallaceae
Description: This edible stinkhorn is rare and can fetch prices from $400-1,000/kg. It is considered to have medicinal value in reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol (Kendrick).
Yin-er
Scientific name: Tremella fuciformis
Common name: Silver ear
Family: Tremellaceae
Description: Another jelly fungus used by the Chinese, yin-er is used in soups and as a tonic (Kendrick).
Ustilago
Scientific name: Ustilago esculenta
Common name: rice smut
Family: Ustilaginaceae (Class Teliomycetes, the "smut fungi")
Description: This plant pathogen is eaten China after infected the wild rice Zizania caduciflora. It is eaten as a vegetable and holds folk medicinal value as a curative for fever, conjunctivits, and kidney and bladder problems.

(c) 2007-2009. Frank Mandarino. Return to Goa-Shoom.net