Velvet Pioppini Mushrooms
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Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are small to medium in size with convex to flattened caps connecting to thin, elongated stems. The firm, soft, and silky caps average 3-10 centimeters in diameter and range in color from dark brown to light brown-grey growing darker towards the center. Underneath the cap, there are small, grey-brown gills containing dark spores and the gills connect to the fibrous cream-colored stem that has a texture similar to asparagus. When cooked, Velvet Pioppini mushrooms have a faint floral aroma and are meaty and crunchy with a nutty, slightly sweet, peppery, and earthy flavor.
Wild Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are available in the summer through fall, while the cultivated versions are available year-round.
Velvet Pioppini mushrooms, botanically classified as Agrocybe aegerita, are wild, edible mushrooms that belong to the Strophariaceae family. Also known as the Black Poplar mushroom, Poplar mushroom, Tea Tree mushroom, Yanagi-matsutake, Cha Shu Gu, Zhuzhuang-tiantougu, and Pholiote du Peuplier, Velvet Piopinni mushrooms form large clusters on deciduous wood logs, stumps, and in holes around poplar trees, chestnut trees, tea-oil trees, willows, cottonwoods, box elders, trident maple trees, and elm trees. Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are highly favored for their firm texture and are commonly added to pasta, soups, and stews.
Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are rich in copper, fiber, and vitamin B5, and also contain potassium, biotin, folate, iron, selenium, and vitamins B2 and B3. Additionally, they have anti-fungal and antibiotic properties.
Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are best suited for cooked applications such as sautéing, pan-roasting, braising, stewing, or roasting. Before cooking, the mushrooms should be sliced from the hard base and brushed or wiped with a damp towel to remove excess debris. It is not recommended to wash the variety as the water will change the texture of the mushroom. The caps of the mushroom are soft, but the stems are tough and may require boiling prior to stir-frying or sautéing to soften the texture. When cooked, Velvet Pioppini mushrooms can be added to salads, soups, stews, baked potatoes, marinated meat dishes, stir-fries, tempura, hot pot, gravies, and white sauces. They can also be cooked in quiches, omelets, and casseroles. In Italy, this mushroom is often used in “pasta con funghi,” and also works beautifully in risotto. Velvet Pioppini mushrooms pair well with potatoes, arugula, radicchio, spinach, carrots, prosciutto, red meats, game, oregano, marjoram, mint, parsley, tarragon, chives, fennel, garlic, goat’s cheese, parmesan, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, rice, millet, quinoa, and polenta. They will keep up to 3-5 days when stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator and can also be dried and stored for up to six months.
In China, Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are used in traditional medicine to help reduce symptoms of nausea, fevers, and headache. They are also used for their anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties to help keep the kidneys healthy and to protect the overall well-being of the digestive system.
Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are native to Asia, especially to Japan and China, and have been growing since ancient times. Today Velvet Pioppini mushrooms are widely cultivated and are found at local markets and specialty grocers in Asia, the southeastern United States, southern Europe, and Australia.
Recipes that include Velvet Pioppini Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.