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|Food Buzz: History of Mushrooms|
Maitake mushrooms range in size from small to very large, averaging 3-15 pounds, but can grow up to 100 pounds. The fruiting body has an underground, inedible base that transitions into a single branched stem with many clustered caps that resemble leaf-like fronds or rosettes. Each cap is smooth, velvety, and soft with wavy edges, and their color varies from pure white, tan, to brown depending on how much sunlight they receive prior to harvest. Underneath the caps, there are many small grey pores that release spores into the air to propagate. When cooked, Maitake mushrooms are succulent, semi-firm, and chewy with a woodsy, earthy, and spicy flavor.
Wild Maitake mushrooms are available in the late summer through late fall, while the cultivated versions are available year-round.
Maitake mushrooms, botanically classified as Grifola frondosa, are edible mushrooms that are both foraged and cultivated for culinary and medicinal use. Also known as Hen of the Woods mushrooms for its similarity in appearance to the feathers of a chicken, Maitake mushrooms have many names including Klapperschwamm, Laubporling, Polypore en touffe, Kumotake mushroom, Ram's head, and Sheep's head. Maitake mushrooms thrive in temperate hardwood forests and are commonly found growing off of the dead roots of oak, elm, and maple trees. These mushrooms are used around the world in many different culinary applications and are also used in traditional medicines for their high nutritional content.
Maitake mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium, fiber, copper, amino acids, beta-glucans, antioxidants, and vitamins B and C.
Maitake mushrooms are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, grilling, baking, frying, sautéing, and stir-frying. When used fresh, Maitake mushrooms can be crumbled and tossed into leafy green salads or sprinkled over soups. hen cooked, Maitake mushrooms are mixed into stir-fries with other fall vegetables, boiled in stews and soups, tossed into pasta, sprinkled over pizza, or cooked into omelets. They can also be sautéed in butter and served as a stand-alone side dish or bked into a mushroom thyme cheesecake. In addition to cooking, Maitake mushrooms can be frozen, cooked or raw, and can be dried and ground into a powder used to flavor meatloaf, Italian dishes, and sauces such as béchamel, cream, or marinara. The tough base of the mushrooms can also be cooked to make a flavorful stock. Maitake mushrooms pair well with other wild mushrooms, bitter greens, shallot, garlic, thyme, potatoes, cheese such as parmesan and gruyere, eggs, bacon, shellfish, beef, anchovies, vinegar, and cream. They will keep for a couple of days when stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator and can be frozen for extended use.
Maitake mushrooms are known as the “dancing mushroom” in Japan. Legend has it that when the mushroom was discovered by Buddhist nuns and woodcutters in the forest, they danced in the joy of finding a new and flavorful variety. Maitake mushrooms are still highly valued in Japanese culture, and even today the Japanese guard their mushroom hunting grounds by marking trees to keep other hunters out. These foragers hunt alone and never reveal the location of the mushrooms, not even to their family. In addition to folklore, Maitake mushrooms are used medicinally as an immune system booster and are used in tea, taken in capsule form, or are consumed in a liquid concentrate.
Maitake mushrooms are native to the mountain forests of Northeastern Japan, where they received the name, Phantom mushroom, because of their rare presence. Today, Maitake mushrooms can also be found east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and are cultivated to increase consistent production and availability to meet demand in the supplement and health food sector. They can be found fresh at farmers markets and specialty grocers or in capsule and liquid form at health food stores in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and China.
Recipes that include Maitake Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
People have shared Maitake Mushrooms using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
Produce Sharing allows you to share your produce discoveries with your neighbors and the world! Is your market carrying green dragon apples? Is a chef doing things with shaved fennel that are out of this world? Pinpoint your location annonymously through the Specialty Produce App and let others know about unique flavors that are around them.
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Sharer's comments : Lovely local foraged shrooms :)