Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms
Inventory, lb : 14.50
This item was last sold on : 05/28/22
|Food Buzz: History of Mushrooms|
Dried Wood Ear mushrooms are small in size and have a folded, shriveled, and compact appearance curled tightly into themselves. The dried mushroom is hard, brittle, and thin, showcasing a white-brown underside against the cap’s upper black-brown surface. Dried Wood Ear mushrooms are inedible when raw and need to be rehydrated and cooked. When reconstituted, Wood Ear mushrooms can expand 3 to 4 times their dried size and develop a wavy and floppy, cup-like to ear-like shape, averaging 3 to 8 centimeters in diameter. The mushrooms bear a slippery, smooth, elastic, and gelatinous texture and range in color from dark brown, brown-black, to grey-black. Wood Ear mushrooms are known for their crunchy and chewy consistency and have a very mild flavor with earthy, musty, and woodsy nuances. The mushrooms readily absorb accompanying flavors and are favored for their texture more than their flavor.
Dried Wood Ear mushrooms are available year-round.
Wood Ear mushrooms, botanically classified as Auricularia auricula-judae, are an edible jelly fungus belonging to the Auriculariaceae family. The unusually shaped mushrooms have a distinct appearance and a snappy, subtly chewy consistency, highly favored in Asia as a textural element in culinary dishes. Wood Ear mushrooms are also known as Jelly Ear, Wood Ear, Black fungus, Jelly fungus, and Tree Ear fungus, and earned their “ear” moniker from their similarity in appearance to the shape of an ear growing from the side of a tree. Wood Ear mushrooms are commonly found throughout Asia and are sold dried in local markets to prolong the mushroom’s shelf life. Drying the mushrooms also allows the fungi to be quickly shipped and transported. It is important to note that Wood Ear mushrooms are not typically utilized for their flavor, as they are generally very mild, but the mushrooms are widely favored in Asia for their medicinal value and textural enhancement in culinary preparations.
Wood Ear mushrooms are a good source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract and iron to develop the protein hemoglobin for oxygen transport through the bloodstream. The mushrooms are also a source of vitamins B1 and B2, copper, magnesium, zinc, and contain lower amounts of potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Wood Ear mushrooms are believed to reduce sore throats, increase circulation, lessen fevers, and detoxify the bloodstream. The mushrooms are cooked and consumed, often in soups, to absorb the nutrients, or they are brewed into a tea. After childbirth, women also consume Wood Ear mushrooms in a soup composed of jujubes, mushrooms, ginger, and poultry. This soup is believed to help blood flow, reduce the possibility of blood clots, and help replenish red blood cells.
Wood Ear mushrooms have a mild, woodsy, and earthy flavor well suited for cooked applications, including boiling, stir-frying, and sautéing. The mushrooms are primarily added to dishes for enhanced texture and color, and the rehydrated mushrooms readily absorb accompanying flavors by trapping sauces and spices in the folds on the mushroom’s surface. Dried Wood Ear mushrooms need to be reconstituted before use and can be soaked in water, broth, or wine for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. The mushrooms can also be soaked in cold water overnight for a softer texture. Once rehydrated, Wood Ear mushrooms should be cleaned and trimmed, and the soaking liquid can be discarded as it does not absorb any umami flavoring. The mushrooms contribute a chewy texture to soups and stews and are popularly cooked in ramen and hot pot meals. Wood Ear mushrooms can also be finely chopped into omelets and scrambles, cooked into pasta and risotto, or folded into savory crepes. Throughout China, the jelly fungi are incorporated into salads, five-spice chicken, moo shu pork, and stir-fries. Wood Ear mushrooms pair well with tofu, meats such as pork, poultry, and beef, seafood including fish, crab, and shrimp, potatoes, cucumber, bamboo shoots, green peas, fermented black beans, aromatics such as green onions, onions, ginger, and garlic, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sesame oil, and herbs including cilantro, parsley, and bay leaves. Dried Wood Ear mushrooms will keep 1 to 2 years when stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry, and dark location away from direct sunlight.
In China, Wood Ear mushrooms are known as Hei Mu-er and are viewed as a yin or cooling ingredient utilized to reduce irritation in the body. The mushrooms are a staple ingredient found throughout China and are famously used as an added texture in hot and sour soup. The tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet thick broth was created in the Sichuan Province, located in the Southwestern region of China. Sichuan cuisine is one of the most widespread cooking styles in China and is favored for its complex mix of spices, fresh ingredients, and rich, umami flavors. Hot and sour soup was believed to have been developed sometime during the Warring States period, and the recipe quickly spread, being made in Hebei, Northern China, Henan, and Shandong. Many adaptations of hot and sour soup have evolved over time with different ingredients, soup viscosity, and flavors, but Wood Ear mushrooms are often thinly sliced into the soup for an added, chewy texture. The mushrooms are also used in mapo tofu, another signature Sichuan dish comprised of tofu in a thin and oily, spicy sauce, served with vegetables, Wood Ear mushrooms, and meat.
Wood Ear mushrooms are believed by experts to be native to Asia, specifically mountainous regions of China, and have been growing wild since ancient times. The mushrooms grow on dead or decaying deciduous trees, especially elder, and can also be found on spindle, ash, and beech. In the Early Ages, Wood Ear mushrooms were also found growing in humid forests on islands in Southeast Asia. The mushrooms were first cultivated as early as 600 BCE in China and were later classified in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus in his book Species Plantarum. Today Wood Ear mushrooms are primarily grown in Asia, harvested wild or cultivated on sawdust, and are sold domestically and exported. Wood Ear mushrooms can be found fresh and dried at local markets in Asia and dried in Europe, Indonesia, the South Pacific, Australia, Africa, North America, and South America. The mushrooms are also grown on a small scale in Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the early spring and are dried for extended use.
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Recipes that include Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
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