It’s easy to look around these days and think to yourself, “Humanity is screwed”. The earth is getting hotter, the planet’s drowning in plastic, and we’re on the brink of a global energy crisis. The human population is growing faster than we can feed and accommodate it, and we’re entering an era of pandemic viruses, the most dangerous of which seems to be stupidity. Things look bleak, but before you start washing your Prozac down with hemlock, there is hope on the horizon. Because a growing body of research is revealing that a weird, ancient and freely occurring life form could help us solve many of the problems we face as a species today. And that life form is fungus. Now, when you hear the word ‘fungus’ you probably think of mouldy bread or that stuff growing on your big toe you’re too afraid to see the doctor about. But, thankfully, fungi are more diverse than that. Depending on who you speak to, there are between 2.2 and 5 million different species of fungi in the world today, and together they form an entirely separate kingdom, making them neither plant nor animal nor bacteria. And though most of us tend to think of plants and fungi as broadly similar, weirdly enough fungi are actually more closely related to us humans than they are to plants. That really does help explain some people, doesn’t it? Fungi also include microorganisms like yeasts and moulds, which are pretty much everywhere. They exist in the ocean, on land and in every natural environment. They’re on your coffee mug, they’re on the International Space Station. They’re all over you and inside you right now. You have my permission to freak out a little bit. The fungal element most people are familiar with is the mushroom, which is essentially the fruit of a fungus. We’ve identified about 20 000 species of fungi that produce mushrooms and, as we shall see later, these vary from the deadly to the delicious to the magical. But the mushroom is only the tip of the fungal iceberg. Below lies a mysterious and often unseen web of fibrous threads that weave over, in and through organic matter. This is mycelium, the vegetative part of fungus. Mycelia help serve fungi’s number one role in the natural ecosystem: eating all the dead stuff. Fungi can’t photosynthesise like plants do because they don’t contain chlorophyll. So, like humans, they need to get their nutrients from other organisms. They do this by decomposing organic compounds: animals, wood, plants, basically anything made from carbon. But, unlike humans and other beasts who eat their food and then digest it, the mycelium likes to do things the other way around, secreting enzymes into or onto whatever it’s having for dinner , to break it down into smaller biological units before absorbing the nutrients. As if decomposing the world’s organic material wasn’t enough of a responsibility, mycelium plays another extraordinary role in natural systems. Spreading throughout the soil, mycelia connect with each other and the roots of plants and trees to form complex communication and distribution networks. When a fungus colonises the roots of a plant, it sets up a win-win relationship known as a “mycorrhiza” By connecting with plant root systems, fungi receive carbohydrates, while in return the plants receive extra water and nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen via the fungi’s mycelium. About 90% of land plants take advantage of this set up, which also helps plants build up their immune systems, making them stronger and encouraging growth. When mycelium first connects to a plant’s root system, it triggers a defensive chemical response in the plant. This process, called priming, makes plants’ immunity reactions faster and more efficient. But the mycelia impact goes far beyond single plants. We now know mycelium networks join up, connecting plants with each other in a subterranean information superhighway. Trees use the mycelium network to transfer carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus between them, helping maintain nutrient balance across many different plants. It appears older trees even help younger ones to grow – a study of seedlings growing in the shade where they are more likely to be short of nutrients revealed they received carbon from donor trees around them via mycelium. And though these discoveries are still pretty new, it seems plants can even use the mycelium net to communicate. Studies have shown that when a single plant is infected with a harmful fungus or attacked by pests, it sends out a warning via the mycelium network, with plants connected to that network showing a more potent immune resistance. Plants that aren’t connected never get the message and show weaker immune responses. By studying these stange and complex interactions, scientists believe we may be able to dramatically improve farming techniques that have traditionally destroyed these precious mycelium networks, which – along with the rise in cultivation of edible mushrooms in third world countries, could help in the fight against world hunger. But it’s not all holding hands and “love thy neighbour”. Some plants turn the mycelium internet into the dark web by using it for nefarious purposes. Some orchids, for example, have little or no ability to photosynthesise, so they hack into surrounding plants via mycelium to steal the carbon they need. Other plants are even more mercenary. When competing for resources like water and light, they use mycelium to release chemicals into the soil that harm rivals or deter them from growing. This process, called “allelopathy”, is known to happen via tree leaves and roots, but the discovery that fungi are helping to amplify the effect is new. As a reminder of why they weren’t invited to the cool parties at college, many biologists have started calling this dense communication network the “wood wide web”, and some estimate there to be three hundred miles of mycelium under every footstep you take through the forest. Nicknamed the humongous fungus, the largest living organism on the planet is proof of this. Growing in ancient woodland in Oregon is a single giant fungus estimated to be 2,400 years old. The mycelium of this armillaria ostoyae, popularly known as the honey mushroom, covers an area as big as 1,600 football fields and is more than 5 kilometres across. It extends an average of one metre into the earth, but above ground the only evidence of its existence are clumps of honey mushrooms that sporadically bloom after it’s rained. For human beings, mycelium has other uses which may be critical to getting out of the mess we’ve created for ourselves. The fantastic qualities of different fungi, especially their ability to break down carbon-based substances, promise potential miracle solutions to many of the environmental problems we’re facing. And it’s impossible to talk about these possibilities without mentioning Paul Stamets. Paul is a mushroom hunter, mushroom cultivator, and mycologist – someone who loves mushrooms so much they study them as a job. He even wears a hat made of mushrooms, and that should tell you all you need to know. Paul and his team have grown rare strains of fungi which have seemingly mystical medicinal properties while also discovering new potential for well-known mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms, for example, could help clean up oil spills. Stamets has developed a strain that is saltwater resistant and eats hydrocarbons, the organic compounds in petroleum and natural gas. One trial showed an oyster mushroom strain could reduce diesel contaminants in soil from 10,000 parts per million to just 200 parts per million in about four months. The mycelium of the whimsically-named stump fairy helmet mushroom can break down PCBs, cancer-causing chemicals once used in the manufacture of various electronic equipment. In fact, fungi could be the solution to one of the biggest environmental contaminants we have: plastic. There are estimated to be more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans, and by 2050 there might be more plastic than fish. The problem with plastic is it takes forever to break down and usually creates toxic pollution in the process. But in the last few years, scientists around the world have discovered more than 50 types of fungus that can eat plastic. The fungus pestalotiopsis microspora is capable of surviving entirely on polyurethane – the main ingredient in plastic – and can even break plastics down into new, safe fungal tissues. Mycelium isn’t just getting rid of the plastic we’ve already produced, either – it’s also being used to create alternatives to plastic packaging, which can take thousands of years to biodegrade. Beyond packaging, mycelium is a surprisingly versatile and durable material in general – the mouldy spores that grow on agricultural waste, or on old cardboard, are being converted into faux leather, textiles, furniture, and even coffins. Mycelium composites can also be made strong enough for use as a building material in the form of bricks, meaning there are implications for the construction industry too. Whether mycelium building materials could offer a solution to some of the estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide who live without adequate housing remains to be seen, but they certainly have the potential to dramatically improve the sustainability of an industry that uses over 400 million tons of building materials in the UK alone each year as well as creating an additional 100 million tons of waste. Fungi can do all of this because their cell walls are made of a molecule called chitin, which is bendy and tough. Fungi are so tough, in fact, that they help break down rock into soil. They may also be able to help reverse the soil damage caused by mass commercial agriculture, since they’re good at decomposing organic compounds and can break down some contaminants in soil, like pesticides. Pollutants may also be removed from water using mycofiltration, a process of harnessing cultivated mycelium to filter water. If cleaning up the planet and replacing high-environmental impact materials wasn’t enough, fungi may also be playing a far greater role in preventing climate change than was previously realised by helping trees absorb CO2 more quickly and slowing the process of decomposition that releases carbon from forest soils. These fung-tastic solutions to environmental problems are exciting and relatively new, but fungi have been powerful sources of medicine for thousands of years, particularly in the east. There’s the Reishi mushroom, which supports the immune system, promotes weight loss, encourages better sleep, and eases depression. Lion’s mane mushroom is excellent for the mind. It may even prevent Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis by stimulating the development of nerve growth factor, the stuff that helps grow new neurons in the brain. Turkey tail mushroom contains a compound called polysaccharide-K that stimulates the immune system. This compound is so effective in treating cancer it’s an approved prescription drug in Japan. Turkey tail has been linked with resistance to leukaemia cells, improving survival rates for people with certain other cancers, and improved immune systems for people receiving chemotherapy. There are many more examples of fungi medicine, but Western medical science only really cottoned on to this fairly recently. In 1928, medical physician and scientist Alexander Fleming returned from vacation to find an unusual bacteria-munching mould growing on a petri dish in his lab. This fluffy white mass would become penicillin, the world’s first commercially-produced antibiotic. Fungus is also behind the drug cyclosporine, which helps prevent rejection of transplanted organs. An ancient and near-extinct mushroom known as agarikon was first documented in 65 AD in Materia Medica, the first known manual of herbal medicine, and is possibly the longest-living mushroom on earth. It’s also the focus of intense medical study for its potential in helping us fight viruses which, as you may have noticed, have been a bit of an issue recently. Agarikon contains antiviral molecules new to science, and initial studies show impressive activity against viruses such as pox, swine flu, bird flu, and herpes. The fungus also has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. In ancient Greece, it was recommended in the treatment of consumption – now known as tuberculosis – and it might prove to be a game-changer in the fight against multidrug-resistant TB. Beyond physical health, though, mushrooms are increasingly being shown to have mental health benefits. Of the tens of thousands of varieties in existence, just a few hundred of them are known to be psychoactive, which is science-speak for: eat one and you’ll trip your balls off. And most of these species have this effect thanks to an active ingredient called psilocybin. I am, of course, referring to the fabled magic mushroom. Rock paintings in Australia suggest eating these special fungi goes back to at least 10,000 BC, while more rock paintings, this time in Spain, show prehistoric people in present-day Europe were blowing their minds in at least 4,000 years BC. Mushroom mythology among the Mayans goes back to 1,500 BC, and. in the 16th century, a Spanish priest called Bernardino de Sahagun wrote about the use of magic mushrooms among the Aztec people. But, when the Spanish conquered much of central and south America, many religious rituals were outlawed and magic mushrooms were forced to go into cultural hiding. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that they resurfaced in western countries. In 1939, two ethnobotanists named Schultes and Reko published a paper in Harvard University Botanical Museum leaflets detailing the use of psilocybin mushrooms by practitioners in Mexico. Just under twenty years later, two mycologists named Wasson and Heim travelled to Mexico to check the story out for themselves. They ate mushrooms under the guidance of a local shaman and then wrote about the experience in Life Magazine in 1957. An editor named the piece “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” and psychoactive mushrooms have been ‘magic’ in popular culture ever since. The article was picked up by Timothy Leary, a Harvard psychologist and big fan of hallucinogenic drugs, who began to experiment with psilocybin. You might know his name from the 1968 Moody Blues hit Legend of a Mind – apparently advocating the use of psychedelic drugs is a good way to win brownie points with rock and roll types. Psilocybin was soon a favourite of hippies everywhere and strongly linked with the growing counterculture of the 60s and 70s. But it wasn’t all free love and psychedelic dream catchers. Around this time, psilocybin was isolated and synthesised by Albert Hofman, the same guy who invented LSD, and used in hundreds of clinical trials. Psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals saw promising results for patients with conditions like depression, anxiety, alcoholism and OCD. But the 70s saw a ban placed on the use of psilocybin for anything other than medical research. Studies ground to a halt, and nothing happened for about thirty years until research started up again in the 2000s. A research group at John Hopkins University was the first to obtain regulatory approval in the US to study psilocybin, though by then it was, in the US and many countries, a Schedule 1 substance, making it as illegal as heroin or crack .But, last year, the University launched the Johns Hopkins’s Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research dedicated to uncovering the medical potential of substances like psilocybin. Using better science, more sophisticated technology and improved methods, more and more academic studies are confirming the hypothesis from 50 years ago: that the active ingredient in magic mushrooms can be a powerful treatment for multiple mental health disorders. So, next time you sneer at a piece of mouldy bread, just remember fungus could help the environment, your body and your mind, and the whole of humanity d. But then throw it away anyway, because saviour of humanity or not, mouldy bread is gross.
Month: March 2022
PREVIEW Hi! welcome to my another video 🙂 today’s cooking ingredients! enoki mushrooms 🙌 this dish is quite delicious! I’ll tell you the recipe check it out 👀 cut the bottom a little (If you cut it too much, the mushrooms will be scattered!) look like a sponge cut it into bite-sized pieces enoki mushroom’s friend 1 this friend is short wow! who likes this sound? cut it into bite-sized pieces enoki mushroom’s friend 2 this friend has a big head who’s cleaning the glass now? enoki mushroom’s friend 3 this friend looks yummy let’s make the sauce! red chili paste (Gochujang) 3 Tbsp red pepper powder 2 Tbsp fish sauce 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce 1 Tbsp cooking syrup (or sugar) 3 Tbsp MSG 1 pinch crushed garlic 1 Tbsp do you want extra spicy? then add Korean fire sauce! add some water to mix well cooking oil I like this sound 🎵 1- bake mushrooms in an oiled frying pan (1 minute each on both sides) 2- pour the sauce with the right amount of water and coat it with mushrooms 3- boil it for 2~3 minutes while watching the concentration 4- grind the pepper and finish the sound of today’s coke is awesome! 😲 are you wearing earphones? and are you ready for the popping sound?! hey wait let’s get started after a cold coke 🤗 today, I will measure the time so that I feel I am challenging start! what a popping! crunch sound!! It’s a little loud today, so you can adjust the volume 🔊🔉 and you know? this dish is really delicious! you should try it too 👍 maybe it’ll taste better with rice one bad thing is that I get stuck a lot between my teeth every time I eat mushrooms If the video skips while I’m eating it’s just cleaning my teeth you don’t have to imagine! so let’s enjoy it with me until the end 🙌
As humans, we have an innate attraction to nature. A childlike curiosity. But beware of what you find in the shadows. In Northern California, something deadly is popping up in the forest. This poisonous mushroom is known as the “death cap.” Donna Davis: The forest was just damp. Perfect. Donna Davis went collecting mushrooms one day in 2014. Donna: It’s very magical when you’re there. It really is quite like a treasure hunt. I felt confident enough that I knew what I was doing. But she didn’t recognize the telltale cup-shaped tissue that grows on the bottom of the deadly mushroom. And she mistook young, egg-shaped death caps for something she could eat. Donna: And I made mushroom soup. It was amazingly delicious. One cap has enough toxin to kill a human being. Donna: The next morning I felt really tired and I took a little nap. For the first six to 12 hours you feel OK. But meanwhile, the toxin is quietly destroying your liver cells. Donna: The next thing I knew I was in emergency care. Death caps spread the same way other mushrooms do. Just like this harmless oyster mushroom, a death cap shoots hundreds of thousands of spores into the air. The spores drift into the shadow of California live oaks, where they grow filaments that attach to the trees’ roots. Each fungus filament is about the width of a human hair. Under the microscope, you can see how the white fungus envelops the tree’s pink root tips. This is called a mycorrhizal relationship. The fungus feeds on the trees’ sugars and gives it nutrients in exchange. It’s good for the fungus and for the tree. And that’s how the death cap snuck into California from Europe on the roots of a decorative shrub, in the 1930s. Researchers aren’t sure why the death cap has evolved to be so lethal. What exactly is it protecting itself from? Humans — we’re just collateral damage in some battle that we don’t understand. Scientists like Anne Pringle, from the University of Wisconsin, are doing genetic testing on death caps to see how long they live. If death caps have a short lifespan, it might be enough to pluck them from the ground so the spores can’t spread. Less opportunity for people to eat them. Donna: I remember closing my eyes and seeing like this beautiful path. And all of a sudden everything got really dark. And I thought, “Oh, I’m not supposed to go down this path.” Donna survived. But death caps killed two people in California that year. Donna: It is really brutal. Nature has its own rules. Do you love seeing weird and wonderful scenes from the natural world? Subscribe! It’s a great way to tell us if you think we’re doing it right. Thanks for watching!
Narrator: Farmers grow, harvest, and pack nearly 400 million mushrooms a year in this small Pennsylvania town. Chris: This is Kennett Square, the mushroom capital of the world. Narrator: Here, they cultivate everything from white button and portobello to specialty mushrooms like shiitake and lion’s mane. But the industry’s facing a major problem. There aren’t enough mushroom pickers. Sonya: Demand is starting to rise, but it’s hard to meet that demand if there’s not enough labor. Narrator: One big reason for that is America’s strict immigration laws that are keeping workers away. Without the extra hands, many farmers have been forced to kill off entire crops. It’s estimated more than a million mushrooms every week are getting destroyed. Sonya: You’re are steaming off rooms with mushrooms that could be harvested that just had nowhere to go. Chris: And that’s not just my farm. That’s farms in California and Texas and all over the country. Narrator: And it’s left businesses like this one on the brink. Chris: We’re losing about $50,000 to $100,000 of revenue per month. Narrator: So why is the industry struggling to find workers? And how can it recover? We went to Pennsylvania to find out. All of mushroom life starts here, with compost. Glenn: The mushrooms here are very picky eaters. Narrator: The mushrooms eat a strict diet of recycled mulch, hay, wheat, straw, poultry litter, and corncob. Glenn: So this is the material near the end of the composting process. It’s dark, caramelized. It’s soft. It has a lot of water. Narrator: The mushroom spores, or seeds, are added in. Then it’s aged, pasteurized, and trucked to farms across the county, like this one. Chris: I’m Chris, and I’m a third-generation mushroom farmer. Narrator: Chris’ family has been growing white button and cremini mushrooms since 1938. Chris: Mushrooms are grown indoors so that we can control the environment. Narrator: It all happens on vertical shelves. Workers use this machine to lay the compost down. Then comes the layer called casing, with peat moss, limestone, and water. Chris: This equipment allows us to have the machine do the heavy work. Narrator: It helps get a perfect 1.75-inch layer, so the mushrooms don’t grow unevenly or come up dirty. This panel controls the growing conditions. They want a perfect combination of carbon dioxide, humidity, and temperature. Chris: After 16 days, we’re ready to harvest. Narrator: But it’s harvesters who are hardest to find. Chris: We’re always harvesting. The only day we don’t work is Christmas. That did not stop because of the pandemic. Our workers were considered essential. Now that the economy started to pick back up, we’re down 20% on our workforce, and it’s been a major impact on our business. Narrator: The mushrooms are grown and harvested in three breaks, or phases, meaning each room will get picked from three times, starting with the biggest mushrooms. Then they’ll wait for the little ones to mature. Narrator: Mushrooms double in size every 24 hours, so pickers have to move quickly. Each armed with a knife, a cart, and tons of boxes. They harvest every mushroom by hand. Daniel: You kind of twist the mushrooms, you don’t put no dirt. Sonya: 220 mushrooms to fill up a 10-pound box. Daniel: 10 an hour. That can give you a good prospect. Some people, they do more than 15, 16 an hour. They’re fast. Narrator: Daniel Beltran and his daughter, Sonya, run Masda Farms, just up the road. Daniel: I’m the second Mexican to grow mushrooms in the whole United States. Narrator: Daniel worked as a mushroom picker for over 12 years. Daniel: And I was thinking on my mind, I said, “I hope one day I get a farm.” Narrator: Today, he and Sonya own 25 mushroom houses. Daniel: We probably need close to what, 80 harvesters every day, and we have 60. Narrator: Today, harvesters work up to 12-hour days to pick as many mushrooms as they can. Narrator: But they still can’t keep up. Chris: We should be harvesting 10 rooms of mushrooms every day, and we usually only can get to seven or eight rooms. Narrator: In the leftover rooms, the mushrooms will be steamed off, meaning they’ll be destroyed. It’s a race against time, because mushrooms grow so quickly. Waiting even one day means … Narrator: And customers don’t like that, so the value decreases. Chris: We’re about $0.35 a pound instead of a dollar a pound. Sonya: It kind of like, hurts a little bit, thinking of — seriously, there’s nowhere that you could probably put this, and there really isn’t. There’s nothing you can do. Narrator: It gets even worse for specialty mushrooms that require even more labor. Like these shiitakes at Phillips Mushroom Farms. Pete: It usually takes three days to pick the whole house. That’s still all done by hand, so it’s still labor-intensive. Narrator: Or these maitakes. Pete: Each one of these logs has to be moved by hand. Put them on a shelf to spawn-run, then we take them off the shelf and bring them down here, put them on this shelf to pick, and then we have to pick them. And then we also have to throw it away. There’s six touches in the course of this thing’s life cycle. Every touch is a person, which are hard to come by nowadays. Narrator: But the labor issues don’t just stop at harvest. They can also be felt at the packing level. Meghan is the third-generation of her family to run Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms. Meghan: This pallet of mushrooms was just brought in from our farms, and then we get it in to one of our two coolers. Everything is labeled so that we know exactly what farm it came from, the date it came in, and how many pounds are brought in, and it’s all in our system so we can easily trace back all of our product. Narrator: Meghan has machines to wash and cut the mushrooms, and even to wrap and label the boxes. But everything in between, from topping off a box to tracking and weighing, is done by hand. Meghan: And then it’ll get put in a flat at the end and get palletized to go out to the customer. Narrator: Mother Earth delivers mushrooms as far as Denver, Texas, and Boston. But getting them there is tough with so few workers. Meghan: So, it used to just be harvesters that were harder to get. Now it’s at our harvesting level, at our supervisor level, at our quality assurance level, even our office staff level. Truck drivers have been really hard to find, as well. The problem is, is that they can’t get them harvested at the farms, that means we don’t have the mushrooms for the packing facility. It’s a complete ripple effect. Narrator: So how did the industry’s labor problem become so dire? Well, it starts with Kennet Square’s history of immigration. Quakers, a Protestant Christian group, were the first to grow mushrooms here in 1885. As the story goes … Chris: Originally, a Quaker farmer who grew carnations tried to grow mushrooms under the beds of the carnations, and he was successful. Narrator: The Quakers then hired Italian immigrants to do the hard manual labor. The Italians then started hundreds of mushroom farms of their own in the area. From the 1950s to the 70s, former sugar cane workers from Puerto Rico settled into Kennett Square and took over picking the mushrooms. But when they began asking for higher wages and better working conditions, farm owners fired them and hired Mexican immigrants instead. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed an immigration bill that gave legal status to certain undocumented agricultural workers who came into the country before 1982. Daniel: That really, really helped for all the Mexican workers. Most Mexicans work in the mushroom industry for, I would say, at least 40 years. Narrator: They built Kennett Square into America’s mushroom capital. It now produces 60% of the country’s product. But that population of Mexican immigrants is aging out of this work, and their kids have chosen other career paths. Daniel: We started getting people from Central America now. Narrator: Even before the pandemic, these new workers began leaving for other industries. Leo: There’s people that say, “Oh, like, you go to construction or you go to landscaping, make more money.” Narrator: To make things worse, strict immigration laws in the US have suffocated the legal flow of Central and Latin American workers. Because mushrooms are a year-round crop, the industry doesn’t qualify for the H-2A temorary worker program, which allows immigrants to come into the US and work in seasonal agriculture. The labor crunch is affecting every mushroom farm, both small and large. To entice the few pickers left, farm owners are offering perks: higher pay, housing, and transportation to and from work. Chris: Our harvesters work on a piece rate, we pay them per box. My average harvester earns over $14 an hour, but I have some harvesters that make over $20 an hour. I would like to pay them more. The company just can’t afford to yet. Agriculture in general, and mushroom farms specifically, work on very thin margins. So when we can’t harvest 10% of our product, we’re definitely losing money. Narrator: Chris is losing $40,000 in revenue a week. Glenn: For this current year, we probably have lost somewhere in the middle of $250,000. Daniel: It’s millions around. Sonya: Yes. Daniel: It’s not thousands. It’s millions, realistic. It is painful. Chris: If this happens, farms will either have to reduce their scale and fill less growing rooms, or they eventually would have to shut down. Narrator: All together, Chester County’s mushroom farmers lost $168 million in 2020. And that has a significant effect on the market, which is booming in popularity. Chris: For the last 10 years, we’re seeing a demand increase of 3% to 5% every year. Narrator: Sales in grocery stores have gone up by 15% in 2021. Chris: Customers are asking every day to fill their orders, and we just don’t have enough mushrooms to do that. So it’s difficult to want to expand, want to provide all the orders that they want, and then see mushrooms just go to waste. Narrator: The solution for the labor issue isn’t an easy one. Farmers have already automated much of the process. Some have turned to growing bigger mushrooms. Meghan: If you grow a larger mushroom, it actually makes it a lot faster for the harvesters to pick them, so we can get them quicker here, and get them out to our customers and do it with less labor. Narrator: The American Mushroom Institute is pushing the Senate to pass the Farmworker Modernization Act. The bill would extend the H-2A temporary program to the mushroom industry. That way, immigrants could get an agricultural worker visa to pick mushrooms. Chris: We need more migrant workers, we need more ability to bring people up to the country. Just like our grandparents did — they came up and worked two jobs and worked hard to make a better life for ourselves. And we need to continue to have America do that for new immigrant populations. Narrator: Others in the industry are considering robot pickers, though not everyone thinks they’re the best option. Leo: You can’t really get a machine to be as delicate as a person’s hand to choose exactly which mushroom. You also have to have, like, the eye to see which one is ready to pick. Narrator: Robots like this are still three years away. Until then, farmers will keep putting out the call for anybody to come help pick mushrooms. Daniel: Every mushroom gives you an extra day of life. So if you eat 20, 20 extra days. Leo: Actually, I don’t even like eating mushrooms. I don’t like the taste. I don’t like any of that. But like, I like seeing how they grow, you know?
Narrator: Every year, Gihei Fujiwara goes into the mountains hunting for this: a matsutake mushroom. If the harvest is low, wholesale matsutake can cost over $500 per kilogram. And over the past 70 years, Japan’s harvest has declined by over 95%. Now the mushroom’s future is unclear. So, what makes these mushrooms so expensive? And why have they almost disappeared? Matsutake can’t exist without trees. They grow connected to the roots of red pine trees in a symbiotic relationship. Matsutake grow in several countries, including China and South Korea. But Japan’s fetch the highest price. In 2021, the season’s first matsutake were auctioned off for over $7,000. They’re harvested once a year, from around September to November. But because the domestic harvest in Japan has plummeted, the price is volatile. Unlike other prized foods, it’s not a problem of overharvesting. It’s a problem of changing habitat. Matsutake can’t be grown on farms; they have to be foraged by hand. But foraging is no easy task. Gihei Fujiwara has been foraging matsutake for over 60 years. There’s a lot of anticipation leading up to each harvest season. Narrator: Gihei forages from dawn till dusk, returning home around midday to empty out his baskets. Even for someone with his experience, it can be hard to predict the quality of a harvest. Narrator: Even with a good harvest, these mushrooms are difficult to find. They blend in with the forest floor and often don’t grow at the base of a tree. Knowing where to look is a result of decades of foraging on this mountain. Narrator: It’s exhausting work, but today, Gihei is rewarded, filling several baskets each trip. But his work isn’t over when the harvest ends. In the off season, Gihei goes back to the mountain and tries to cultivate matsutake. Narrator: Gihei also tries to spread the spores of matsutake to help them grow. But cultivating matsutake this way takes around five years, and success isn’t guaranteed. Even though this year was a big harvest, the long-term trend is in decline. In 1953, Japan harvested around 6,400 metric tons of matsutake. But in 2019, it harvested only 14 metric tons. One of the biggest reasons for this decline is a change in how forests are maintained. Narrator: Matsutake also grows best with red pine trees that are a few decades old. But over the past century, an invasive pest called pinewood nematode has been hurting the growth of red pine trees throughout Japan. Without the trees, matsutake won’t be able to survive. The mushrooms also need ample rainfall and cool temperatures early in the season. All of these factors create a delicate balance for matsutake. Harvests vary widely each year, which causes big changes in price. In 2018, prices were 20% to 50% lower than the year before because of a good harvest. But in 2019, when there was a period of dry weather, prices almost doubled, reaching over $800 per kilogram in some parts of Japan. Narrator: Today, Japan imports over 90% of its matsutake from places like China and South Korea. In 2019, only around 14 of the 1,000 metric tons consumed were harvested domestically. Imported matsutake are more affordable compared to the ones grown in Japan. But some people consider these mushrooms to be less fresh and not as flavorful. Matsutake with a closed cap are often considered to be the most valuable. But different sizes are used in different types of dishes. Narrator: A full-course meal at this inn costs around $130. Narrator: Due to the declining harvests, matsutake mushrooms were listed as “vulnerable” in 2020. But the species isn’t gone yet. Narrator: But if its growth and environment aren’t sustained, this legendary mushroom likely won’t get cheaper anytime soon.
(phone ringing) – Hi, it’s Doug! Have you ever found a mushroom growing in the wild? Well, this guy in the country of Zambia found what might be one of the biggest mushrooms in the world. And best of all, it’s one that’s not poisonous. He could eat it. Someone named Isaiah has a question about mushrooms. Let’s give him a call now. (phone ringing) – Hi, Doug. – Hey, Isaiah. – I have a question for you. How do you know if a mushroom is poisonous or not? – Ooo, that is a great question. Mushrooms aren’t just something you can find at the grocery store. They grow in the wild too. And if you pay attention to the world around you, sometimes you can find some really interesting ones. Like one time, I remember walking out into the yard behind my house. I was going to mow the grass like I did every week when suddenly, I noticed something that looked just like this. It was one of the weirdest mushrooms I’ve ever seen. You can see, it’s not a single mushroom at all. It’s an entire ring of mushrooms. There were dozens of them. This ring of mushrooms had popped up overnight in my back yard. It was so interesting that I couldn’t bring myself to mow it down. I let the grass stay long that week. I learned it’s what’s called a fairy ring. In ancient times, some people believed that this ring of mushrooms marked the spot where a fairy had been dancing in the night. Today, scientists have a different reason for thinking why they grow like this. We know it has to do with a circle-shaped pattern of the part of these mushrooms growing under the ground. But I love that we still call them fairy rings. Or here’s another one of my favorites. I remember in about fifth grade, I was walking along the edge of a field behind my school when I saw what looked like this weird deflated soccer ball sitting there in the grass. When I went to kick it, it gave off like a cloud of smoke. Or so I thought. I found out later that this deflated soccer ball thing was actually a type of mushroom called a puffball. And by the way, that cloud of smoke was actually millions of microscopic particles called spores. They’re the seeds of the mushrooms. By kicking a puffball, you’re actually helping it to spread its seeds into the wind. Fairy rings and puffballs are just two fun examples of interesting mushrooms you can find growing in the wild. But are these mushrooms you could eat? You might’ve heard that certain wild mushrooms are poisonous, even deadly. Is it true? And if it is, is there any way you can tell? What do you think? Before I say anything more, now would be a good time to pause the video and discuss. Okay, you ready? Well, I wish I could tell you there was an easy way to tell whether a mushroom is poisonous or not. Like, if only the poisonous mushrooms were always a certain color. Or if they always had a certain shape or something. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that at all. In fact, one of the deadliest mushrooms in North America looks like this. By comparison, here’s the kind of mushroom that we put on pizza. You can hardly tell these apart. The mushroom on the left is called a Destroying Angel. A single bite of Destroying Angel is enough to kill a human being. But now check this out. Here’s a mushroom that looks really weird. You might think, oh, this one’s gotta be poisonous. But guess what, this one is called a Morel. And not only is it not poisonous, lots of people consider it to be one of the best tasting mushrooms in the world. One pound of these mushrooms sells for as much as $40 or $50. But even Morel mushrooms aren’t always easy to tell from poisonous ones. You see this one here? It looks like a Morel, but it’s not quite the same. It’s what’s called a False Morel or a brain mushroom. And it will make you really sick if you eat one. So how can anyone ever tell a poisonous mushroom from the kinds of mushrooms that we can eat? The answer: you have to become a mushroom expert. Mushroom experts are people who get really good at identifying mushrooms, knowing what each of the different kinds of mushrooms look like. They learn that each kind of mushroom has its own special traits, which can help tell it apart from other mushrooms. For example, there are a few mushrooms that actually turn blue when you cut them. Isn’t that weird? Some of these are poisonous and will make you sick. Others are safe to eat. So knowing if it turns blue isn’t enough. But using this trait helps a mushroom expert narrow down the list of possible kinds of mushrooms it might be. Or here’s another amazing trait. There are some mushrooms that actually glow in the dark. Here in North America where I live, one of the more common ones is this, called the Jack O’Lantern. Jack O’Lantern mushrooms are poisonous, so the fact that it glows in the dark can help a mushroom expert know what it is. Or check out this kind of mushroom. It’s called Chicken of the Woods. These are always bright yellow-orange and they grow in this unusual clump of one on top of another. Chicken of the Woods is a good example of a wild mushroom that’s not poisonous. And it doesn’t have any poisonous lookalikes. But some people do get sick if they eat it raw, so mushroom collectors always cook it really well before eating. As for that funny sounding name, that’s because they say once you do cook it, it tastes like chicken. So in summary, there’s no one way to tell whether a mushroom is poisonous or not. There are thousands of different kinds of mushrooms. So if you wanna eat a wild mushroom, you need to get the help of a mushroom expert. But if you’re interested, you can learn to become one. There are mushroom hunting clubs, where you can meet some of these experts and lots of books about all the different kinds of mushrooms. That’s all for this week’s question. Thanks, Isaiah, for asking it. Now, for the next episode, I reached into my question jar and picked out three questions submitted to me that I’m thinking about answering. When this video’s done playing, you’ll get to vote on one. You can choose from: How does a car measure the gas in its tank? Where do minerals come from? Or, why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore? So submit your vote when the video’s over. I wanna hear from all of you watching. There are mysteries all around us. Stay curious, and see you next week.
Welcome to Top10Archive! Foraging for food was our ancestors way of survival and although throughout the years we’ve learned what and what not to eat, there are still those times where misclassification or contamination occurs – and sometimes, the results can be deadly. From Angel Wings to Death Caps, we’re counting down the top 10 deadliest mushrooms… Gyromitra esculenta (False Morel) Also known as false morels and brain mushrooms, this North American fungi is often mistaken to be that of the edible morel, which is a highly sought after delicacy. Though unlike the morel, the false morel is poisonous, and potentially deadly, especially when eaten raw. Appearing to have fleshy, wrinkled caps much like that of the morel, the easiest way to tell the difference is to cut them in half length wise, a false morel will be solid where as the edible delicacy you’d be after is hollow from stem to tip. Podostroma Cornu-damae Like something out of an alien movie, the podostroma cornu-damae is as toxic as it is strangely beautiful; with reports saying consuming 1 gram can be deadly. The podostroma is red, long and cylindrical with no distinct caps. Several cases of poisoning have been reported throughout the world, causing organ failure, liver necrosis as well as a variety of other ailments. They say after 3 days or so, symptoms will seemingly clear up, though it isn’t the case; like most mushrooms, that is a part of the symptoms, almost as if nature is lulling us into a false sense of security. Symptoms always reappear a few days later, usually resulting in death. Pholiotina Rugosa (Conocybe Filaris) This fungus is a common lawn mushroom found throughout the Pacific Northwest, growing on compost and soil. These standard looking brown mushrooms, with a wide inner ribbed cap are packed with amatoxins. This toxin starts with its primary exposure to the liver, then moves on to the kidneys. It is capable of causing anything from headaches and dizziness to severe organ failure or even death if it’s ingested. Amanitin can even cause burning and severe pain if absorbed through the skin. Pleurocybella porrigens (Angel Wings) Known more commonly as the angel wing mushroom, the deadly fungi makes their home on moss covered coniferous woodlands, mostly in the Scottish woodlands, where they originate. Though once considered to be an edible delicacy, much like the poisonous puffer fish; it is considered to be deadly by today’s standards, with numerous reports of death have occurred from the mushroom in Japan, Europe and North America. It is commonly mistaken to be that of the oyster mushroom. You can differentiate the two primarily from their color; angel wings are white, whereas the oyster is a shade of brown. Galerina marginata (Autumn Skullcap) With a common name like the autumn skullcap, it’s pretty safe to assume that you should not be eating this mushroom. They grow from spring to fall, and found primarily in clusters on rotting deciduous and coniferous trees. It is an extremely deadly shroom, with symptoms occurring as soon as 10-hours after consumption; starting with vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. Eventually symptoms will subside, giving the illusion of recovery, but eventually, kidney and/or liver failure will occur, with death shortly thereafter. Lepiota brunneoincarnata (Deadly Dapperling) Mushroom poisoning is a common occourence throughout Europe, with France alone having an estimated 8 to 10 thousand cases a year. Called the deadly dapperling, and an obviously deadly fungus, especially for younger children, with most of the reported fatalities being that of children between the ages of 8 and 16. Looking like a standard everyday mushroom, with brown caps, and gilled undersides, the deadly dapperling gets its killing power from the large amounts of amatoxins within it, as with most deadly mushrooms, there is no safe way to remove them. The toxins are insoluble in water and can’t be destroyed via drying. Cortinarius Rubellus (Deadly Webcap) Mushrooms can kill, and they can be very tricky to decipher the differences, even experts can slip up and make fatal mistakes. The Cortinarius Robellus, better known as a deadly webcap, is one of the biggest mushroom related killers throughout North America and Europe. Easily identified by the rusty brown color, with a paler, thicker stem and convexed, shield shaped caps. The amatoxins in this mushroom are capable of causing renal failure in as little as 2 days after ingesting this variety of LBM, as well as symptoms such as severe dehydration, and massive pain throughout the entire body. Amanita Verna (Fool’s Mushroom) Notably lacking any particular or pungent odor, Amanita Verna, or fool’s mushroom, is incredibly poisonous and it’s highly advised that you just don’t eat wild mushrooms, and leave it to an expert. If you think it’s safe enough to try, then beware of the fool’s mushroom, this pure white, gilled mushroom, as well as the other death angels on the list, can be determined by the bulbous volva, white, convex cap and the gills underneath are free, and unattached to the stalk of the fungi. A variant of the amanitin toxins, α-amanitin, begins its effects with severe cramps and diarrhea, followed by liver and kidney failure, and ultimately breaking down the central nervous system. Amanita Virosa (Destroying Angel) Named with a stroke of poetic justice, the Amanita Virosa, has come to be called the European springtime destroying angel. One of the three mushrooms, that together, are known as the “death angels”. The three are difficult to tell apart without the aid of a microscope. They’re all white, with yellowish patches, convex capped mushrooms. More common throughout Europe and parts of North America, and packed full of α-amanitin, an unnamed survivor of the mushroom would go on to say; “Often times it is far worse than death, and I found, that if it was not for my kids, I would of much rather die.” Amanita phalloides (Death Cap) Responsible for the most mushroom based poisonings and deaths in the world, this fungus will kill most people within 10 days of consumption. The mushroom, known as the death cap, appears to have a greenish-brown cap, cup-like volva, white gills and a membranous skirt along its stem, and is often described as being sticky to the touch. The toxins within are 100% stable, and there is no way of removing them, and every last portion of the mushroom is deadly upon consumption, only taking 1 cap to kill.
– A day and a half ago, this thing was the size of the tip of my pinky. There’s been stories of toxic waste clean up by mushrooms. Without mushrooms, we would be overrun with waste, there would not be any life on earth. (upbeat music) Ganoderma lucidum sensu stricto is known as the mushroom of immortality. They’re anti-viral, anti-bacterial. It’s been shown to shrink and terminate tumor growth. And we do about 180 bags per cycle and we do that three times a week. Yeah, this used to be done in my house. (light music) We have some shiitake mushrooms right here that are ready to go. – There’s thousands of ways that these guys can save our world and make our environment that much better to live in. – Cultivating fungi and mushrooms is like a balance between science and art. I’m gonna be taking a look inside of my– This is the spawn incubation/culture media room. And I’m just gonna select our some cultures for today and take a look at some of my spawn. Today I will be taking little pieces of tissue from these plates and dropping them into nutrient media broths to basically expand the mycelium. Yeah, my name’s Michael Crowe and I own Southwest Mushrooms. Here we cultivate a wide variety of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. (light music) Yeah, we just dropped a couple chunks of mycelium tissue of Cordyceps. Mycology is the study of fungi and basically a growth of different fungi. People don’t realize that there is such a wide array of different mushrooms out there. Molds and fungi starts from spores rather than seed. Two compatible spores will mate and form mycelium. Mycelium starts out, we plant it on a Petri dish and from there we transfer healthy sectors of mycelium into bags of sterilized grain. Here we have organic wheat berries that we use. From there, mycelium will spread and devour whatever food source that it’s working with. Full colonization occurs, you’ll se a big, nice, healthy bag of white mycelium. This can get broken up and utilized to inoculate any where from 20 to 30 of our production blocks. Without good spawn, you don’t have mushrooms. A lot of people that will try to get into growing mushrooms because they’ve grown a lot of plants before think that it’ll be basically kind of similar, but it’s definitely totally different. You’re germinating spores of Petri dishes, you’re growing out the mycelium, you’re doing transfers into sterilized grain substrates as opposed to soils. Yeah, this is our production area, this is where our substrate gets made. We use a blend of oak hardwood sawdust plus added supplements like organic wheat brand and certain seed wholes to basically form our substrate to get the maximum efficiency from our mushrooms. Bags are filled up to approximately 10 to 12 pounds and then from there, we make our way into the sterilization area, where the substrate will be sterilized for a prolonged period of time, to make sure we kill of any microorganisms or competitor molds or fungi. Nothing’s needed, it’s all sterile, so you don’t need to use any kind of pesticides or any kind of fertilizers or additives. You have to really take a lot of care into make sure that you’re only growing the fungi that you desire. This is the sterilization room. This is where we sterilize all of our substrate. In here, we can sterilize up to 1600 pounds of fresh substrate at a time. And basically, steam comes through and sterilizes at a high temperature. About 212 degrees. If it’s not sterilized properly, you’ll take it in to inoculate and you’ll run into a lot of contamination problems and molds outgrowing your mycelium. We have our spawn right here, this is California reishi. So we’ll take our spawn and just kind of break it up, separate each individual grain. And allow that to become a vehicle for our mycelium. So I’ll take a scalpel and then I’ll heat sterilize it. The HEPA filter right here is basically providing us just a clean workspace to perform our inoculations. So we’re getting a stream of sterile air. It’s eyeballed. I’m pretty good at eyeballing it, so that’s what I do. (chuckles) So the bags are placed in front of the flow hood, inflated with a little bit of that sterile air, and then sealed. All right, so now our bag’s inoculated. And we’re just gonna wanna shake it up. (rustling) All right, that bag’s done. People think that all mushrooms are grown in the dark on manure. We have wood-loving mushrooms, mushrooms that can grow on insects, and mycorrhizal species of mushrooms that can connect with different plants. This area is our shiitake incubation area. The shiitake generally takes eight weeks before we can get it into the fruiting room. We can see the mushrooms at this stage beginning to popcorn. As the mushroom begins to mature, you let the blocks ripen and they begin to turn brown. And this is a block that’s ready to go into our fruiting room. It’s ripe and ready. Generally, a lot of people, a lot of new growers will mistake the brown for contamination, but that’s actually just the mycelium ripening and getting ready to produce a good crop of mushrooms. And yeah, over here we have some freshly inoculated blocks, we can see the mycelium starting to jump off from the grain that is was inoculated with, and looking for sawdust to basically break down and utilize as a food source. In nature, you find oyster mushrooms growing off of the sides of trees, so here we kind of try to simulate that way of growth with this block. Inside is oak hardwood sawdust, and the bag kind of acts as an artificial tree bark. So when we give it an incision, it kind of just acts as in nature, when mycelium starts poking out at the right points and receiving the right O2 levels that sends mushrooms out. Once it completely devours all of it’s food source, the mycelium signals to produce mushrooms. Basically, the mushrooms will start pinning within a few days. You’ll start to see a bunch of little baby mushrooms forming all over the block. Usually, they’ll have like a stem and a cap. Underneath the cap will be the gills and the gills are responsible for producing all the spores that the mushroom will utilize to continue the life cycle. We grow mushrooms, that in nature, you’d find them growing right in the forest, right off of the sides of different trees. So we try to give these mushrooms a little bit of light stimulation. Kind of similar to what you’d get in a shaded part of the forest. What we do is as our blocks are ready to go in the grow room, we slap our blocks with our hands to basically simulate the tree falling in nature to shock the mycelium into growing. Once the tree or branch would hit the floor, the mycelium would be shocked into producing the mushrooms, because it’s basically thinking that it’s life cycle is coming to an end. That’s what mushrooms do, they’re basically nature’s grand decomposers. Their job is to break things down and turn it into organic material that can be reused by the environment. There’s been stories of toxic waste clean up by mushrooms. Mushrooms being able to break down oils. Kind of like the immune system for the planet. Also plastics in the environment. Without mushrooms, we would be overrun with waste. Basically, there would not be any life on earth. Mushrooms are very crucial to the environment and ecosystem. I started when I was about 15, I just got interested in mushrooms. Picked up a couple books and was just really fascinated by the whole process. How something can just start from spores, something that we really can’t see with the naked eye into just being able to devour things at such a fast rate and produce these mushrooms. And by the time I was 16, I was growing mushrooms as a hobby and just became really hooked on the process. So I started this business after selling some stocks and cashing out my 401K, so I wanted to continue working with mushrooms for life, I guess, and kind of make it a career path. So now I’ll just harvest the mushrooms just by simple cutting as close to the base of the block as possible. And then from there, we can go ahead pack everything in the next warehouse and get everything to the desired weights. Creminis, and button mushrooms, and portobellos, those are secondary decomposing mushrooms, so those mushrooms desire manure or compost based substrates. You wouldn’t wanna keep that stuff under the same roof, just because you don’t want any kind of cross contamination getting into your grows. So yeah, we’re just specializing in wood-loving species, so species that basically decompose hardwood in nature. You’ll find them growing off like fresh trees or basically recently fallen trees. Most strains are like shiitake, oyster mushrooms, more of the medicinal species such as reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane. You’ll find maitake growing on oak or in certain hardwoods. Also the medicinal benefits that they offer are far greater than what you’d find in like a portobello or cremini mushroom. These are the mushrooms that contain those anti-cancer, anti-tumor benefits, those amino-modulating, immune system enhancing benefits. They’re anti-viral, anti-bacterial. Like, reishi specifically is used in chemotherapy and cancer treatments. It’s been shown to shrink and terminate tumor growth. A lot of people that have compromised immune systems are able to utilize certain mushrooms, like shiitake for instance, has been shown to dramatically increase production of necessary T-helper cells to help fight off infection and keep your body safe. This is called Ganoderma sessile, this is a reishi species from Palmer Woods near Michigan. And this mushroom’s mainly used for the medicinal benefits. You can take it and brew it into a tea or make tinctures out of it and utilize it for the health properties. A lot of mushrooms have their own unique healthy benefits that you can only get from that mushroom. It’s been used by eastern medicine for about 4,000 years. Shiitake, for instance, produces polysaccharide called lentinan. That’s something that you can only get from shiitake. Oyster mushrooms produce a compound called lovastatin which naturally reduces blood pressure. Lion’s mane produces hericenones and erinacines, which is able to stimulate nerve growth factor in the brain. Here’s our lion’s mane also called hericenones erinacines. It is a wonderful teeth fungi. The mushroom is a medicinal mushroom as well as a culinary delight, known for the fact that it can enhance cognitive function, boost your memory. Basically enabling people to recover from traumatic brain injuries, helping people deal with Alzheimer’s, dementia. We’ve got some regulars out there that love our lion’s mane powder and all of our products, really. It just started with the farmer’s markets and everybody just being really amazed by our quality of mushrooms. And from there, chefs started asking us about mushrooms, so we started dealing chefs, and then now our mushrooms are making it to grocery stores and restaurants all over the state. The reishi is definitely an intensive harvest. So we’ll just cut each antler off at the base of the block. It’s kind of like a forest or reishi down there. But patience and time. And there we have the cut right there, and we have a little bit of sawdust attached, so I’ll just trim this off. It shows that it really breaks down the substrate into almost a pulp-like matter ready to begin composting into soil. Yeah, this is the most aggressive reishi that we have. Cultivating fungi and mushrooms is like a balance between science and art. One, you’ve got to understand the science of it, and two, the art of it is basically being able to execute your crop the right way. If you have a passion and you wanna turn it into a business then don’t let anything stop you. (light music)
– There are over 14,000 identified varieties of mushrooms. Today, we’re gonna go over some of the most commonly found, rare, and delicious edible mushrooms. We’re gonna be slicing dicing, frying, and tasting. Oh, my God! Over 15 types of mushrooms. [upbeat music] Okay, since there is so much to consider, we’re going break it down into chapters, to try to keep things simple. In chapters one and two, we’re going to break down some of the most common edible mushrooms, like the ones that you’re most likely to encounter in your market. We’ll take a look into what makes each category unique, and cook some delicious dishes to show you the best ways to utilize them. In chapter three, we’ll be looking at even more mushrooms, and compare them to some that I’ve been growing at home. We’ll also talk about mushrooms as a meat substitute, and make some delicious king trumpet steaks. And in our final chapter, we’ll talk about some specialty mushrooms, like this black truffle. Chapter one, The Big Three. Here we have three of the most common mushrooms, white button, cremini and portobello. Combined, these three mushrooms account for over 90% of mushroom consumption, but that’s not all. The secret truth about these mushrooms is that they are all the same mushroom. [crowd gasps] That’s right, portobellos are just mature criminis, and white buttons are just the young, white version of criminis. Even though these three mushrooms are technically the same species, they can have different uses. So let’s get into what makes them each unique. White button aka champignon. He’s so cute. It’s one of the most cultivated varieties in the world, and has been grown for centuries. These grow in the dark, and they were believed to have first been grown in the catacombs beneath Paris. So when you’re buying white buttons in the store, you’ll probably find them in a package like this. If you’re not cooking with them right away, take them out of the package and put them in a paper bag. This will help them breathe and get ventilation. Man down! So when you put them in the refrigerator, you can even leave the paperback open, so that the air flow can circulate, and that they don’t get slimy and mushy. If you leave them in an airtight container for a few days, like I did, they start to get slimy, and they’ll also bruise. They’ll get brown spots from where the moisture is starting to come out. It’ll just accelerate them breaking down and rotting. So you wanna let them breathe and have plenty of space. It is very common as a topping on pizza, where you’ll just see it sliced and then scattered over the top, and baked on top of the pizza. They can be eaten raw, as long as they’re clean, and they don’t really taste like much, but they have a very spongy kind of texture, that’s kind of firm, has a little crunch to it, but not a ton of flavor. So these are white buttons that have just been roasted, with a little oil and salt. You can see the color deepens as the moisture content starts to come out and they shrivel up a little bit. Mm. It does concentrate their flavor, a lot more of that, kind of like deep caramelized flavor, but still on the milder side. Cremino aka Baby Bella. So these are crimini. This is a cremino, kind of like octopus and octopi. I don’t think that’s a thing. [elevator music] When purchasing these mushrooms, check under the cap to see if the gills are covered. Typically, covered gills means that they’ll have a more delicate flavor. The gills are these thin structures just underneath the cap. The purpose of the gills is to create and release spores for reproduction. As you cook white buttons, they start to get darker and turn brown anyway, when the water starts to leech out. So, unless you need that white color shaved raw on a salad, feel free to use crimini for any use that you would use white buttons for, that’s cooked anyway. It tastes just like a white button, spongy texture, firm, a little crunch to it, but still very mild. And look, without the outer layer, it even looks like a white button. These are portobello or portobella. The name means beautiful door in Italian. No one’s really sure where it came from. Some people say it was a marketing gimmick that came about in the ’80s, to make it sell better, because it wasn’t as popular as its smaller siblings. And it worked. Nowadays, these are incredibly popular. Compared to the crimini, these gills are much longer and very well-defined. You always wanna check the gills on mushrooms like this, to make sure that they’re not holding any dirt, or particles of sand, or twigs in between, because that can really get caught in there. Because of this shape and size, they’re great to use as buns, as a bread replacement, or you can do what I’m about to do and make mini pizzas. [bright music] So we’re gonna make some mini portobello pizzas, using the mushroom cap instead of a pizza crust. So, first thing we’re going to do is just pop off the stem here. We’re just gonna scrape these out, using a spoon. It’s like a drum. Instead of washing these in the sink, we’re just gonna wipe them off with a damp cloth, just to remove any dirt that might be on the outside of the cap. Now we’re ready to cook. So we’re just gonna start with a little bit of oil, and we’re gonna sear the mushroom gills side down first. We’re gonna let it soften, and as it cooks, then we’ll start pressing on the mushroom to press out any of the excess moisture. As it loses water, it’ll start to shrink a little bit. And this you definitely want to do on high heat, because you want the moisture to evaporate as soon as it comes out of the mushroom. It’s kind of like searing a piece of meat. This is like the size of one of those, like Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas from back in the day. See all that liquid? That’s probably about half of the volume that it was before, maybe a little bit more than that. All right, we are ready to top it. So we’re gonna start with our tomato sauce, add a little bit of fresh basil. This is freshly grated mozzarella. We’re gonna grate a little bit of Parmesan, then we’re gonna bake it in the oven, until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. [bright music] Nice. So this was in the oven for about 10 or 15 minutes at 375, just until the cheese is melted and bubbling and golden on top. And now we’re gonna top it with a little bit of fresh basil and a little bit of grated Parmesan. Come on, what could be better than that? Mm, even though the mushroom is tender, it still has some bite to it. So you get a little bit of texture on the bottom, and it has this like, rich earthiness, that really compliments the Parmesan and the cheese. I’m a huge fan of pizza crust, but I think this is absolutely delicious. And I think that you will love it. Chapter two, Woody Mushrooms. I’m calling these woody mushrooms, because in the wild they grow on the sides of trees and out of groundwood. These mushrooms are very commonly used in Asian cuisines. And in America, we refer to them by their Japanese names, maitake, enoki, and shiitakes. There are two types of shiitakes. This one, which is probably more common here, in the US, is the regular shiitake mushroom, and this one, in Japan is referred to as the dongo, it’s much more rare and a lot more aromatic. These both have a similar flavor, although they look very, very different. The typical shiitake that we see in the US has a flatter cap, with a slight curl at the bottom. The dongo has a bigger curl and a fatter cap. It also has a crackly texture on the top, that looks kind of like a loaf of bread, after it’s been baked. So these are great for pickling, and it’s something very quick that you can keep in your fridge for a long time. You just wanna slice them straight across, leaving a little bit of the stem. We’re just gonna add them straight to our jar. And then we’re just gonna throw some aromatics in the jar. Couple of dried chili peppers, bay leaves, black peppercorns. You can add whatever flavorings you want. They’re just a nice addition to pretty much anything that you want a little bit of tanginess. And if you put your chili peppers in, anything that you wanna add a little spice. Just gonna cover this up and keep it in your fridge. It’s best to let it sit for a day or two before you start eating, and it can last for up to three months. This is the enoki mushroom. In the wild, this mushroom has a dark brown color and a shorter thicker stem, but this is a cultivated version of enoki, that is grown in the dark, which prevents it from developing any color, much like the white button. They hold up great in soups and stews, and make a great addition to salads, because of their crisp texture. And here we have a little cluster of roasted. All they need is oil and salt. You’re not tryna cover it up. You just really wanna roast them to intensify the flavor. Mm. I really love mushrooms, if you can’t tell. [elevator music] Maitake mushrooms. The name means dancing mushroom in Japanese. I’m not 100% sure why they’re called dancing mushroom, but I think it’s because if you’re lucky enough to find one, you’ll do a little happy dance. Cause these are definitely my favorite mushrooms. [serene music] Maitakes are known as polypores, because unlike some of the other mushrooms that we’ve seen, they don’t have gills. They release their spores through small pores on the back. They smell kind of like beer or kombucha. They have that kind of fermented, yeasty quality. It’s very heady and earthy and aromatic. It’s kind of like a damp forest floor, like a forest floor that you wanna lick. [soft music] Although you can eat them raw, they do have a little bit of a bitter aftertaste, so they’re much better roasted or cooked. I love to take advantage of the unique shape of maitakes whenever I cook them. So I’m going to show you my whole fried maitake, kind of like a blooming onion, but it’s a maitake. [bright music] So first, we’re going to dust our mushroom with Wondra flour, because it’s a pre gelatinized flour, that you will never get lumps from. That way, the petals and the stems can stay nice and separate, after we hit them with the batter. And we’ll let this guy hang out while we make our batter. Again, we’re gonna use Wondra flour for this, about two tablespoons of corn starch, and we’re gonna use a couple pinches of salt. We’re gonna make a beer batter. You don’t want your batter to be too thick, so gently whisk it as you pour your beer in. You want it to be kind of the consistency of heavy cream. Now we have a beautiful, smooth batter, no lumps. We’re gonna get our oil hot and get this cooking. So now we have some oil that is heating up, to be able to fry. We’ve got our batter, and we’ve got our dusted mushroom ready to go. First thing we’re gonna do is dip our dusted mushroom in the batter. Just twirl it. And this beautiful batter, because it is on the thinner side, it’ll just make a nice thin coat on all of the petals, and now it’s time to fry. Just carefully lower it into the oil. Sometimes it’s hard, but you have to leave it alone and let it cook, and not mess with it all the time. So be patient. Just hold this guy still, he’s tryna run away. All right. So, for our dipping sauce we’re just gonna do two of my favorite things, mayonnaise and Sriracha, without the bottle fart. And you can do ponzu, you can do soy sauce, whatever you want is great. I just want a little bit of kick and a little bit of creaminess. All right. Our mushroom is looking GBD, golden, brown, and delicious. So our maitake is fresh out of the oil, just gonna hit it with a little salt, and now we’re gonna trim the base, to make it nice and flat. Oh, you can hear how crunchy that is. And now just to make it look a little pretty, we’re just gonna dust a little bit of paprika over the top. This is what I’ve been waiting for all day. The actual eating of it. Oh, my God, do you hear that? It is so crunchy. Mm, okay. If you have not tried a fried maitake mushroom, you have not lived. This is so [beep] good. Oh, sorry. This is so damn good. You get all of that concentrated maitake flavor, all that earthiness and woodiness, a little bit of yeasty-ness, and just a super light crisp from the batter, but you don’t lose the identity of the mushroom. You taste the mushroom first and foremost, in all of its delicious glory. Oh, my God. Chapter three, Oysters, Trumpets and Lion’s Mane, Oh My! So we’re gonna break down all of these mushrooms, compare them to some homegrown ones, might even throw in a couple of bonuses, and then we’re gonna make some king trumpet steaks. So these are oyster mushrooms. They come in a lot of different colors, including silver, yellow, and blue, although they don’t really look very blue, they are called blue oyster mushrooms. They also come in hot pink, which I was unable to find today, sorry. Oyster mushrooms have decurrent gills, which unlike the shiitakes and portobellos, start at the back of the cap, and run all the way down the stem. They have a pretty strong smell. Some say that it’s similar to anise, but to me it’s more like black licorice, mixed with like wet woodchips. It’s almost got a meaty kind of flavor to it, like not iron-y. Ooh, ooh, it comes on strong, too. Whoa. Hmm. Cooked, very pleasant. Raw, not so much, but the flavor’s nice. It’s kind of earthy and kinda woody, not as yeasty and fermented as the maitakes, but it has a very pleasant kind of like umami flavor and feel in the mouth. Umami is referred to as the fifth taste. It mainly refers to the feeling that you get when you’re eating something like roasted mushrooms, that provides depth and aroma, that kind of hits you more in the back of your tongue and your palate. You’re kind of breathing it. It’s like all encompassing, more than just like a distinct taste on your tongue. Oyster mushrooms are said to have first been cultivated in Germany, during World War I, as a subsidence measure, probably because they’re relatively cheap and quite easy to grow, evidenced by the fact that I was able to grow some at home, over this past week. Check it out. Oww. Look at my baby. Everybody, meet Pearl, Pearl, meet everybody. Pearl is part of a grow kit that we got from our friends, over at Smallhold. What’s great about these grow kits, is that they make an easy process, even easier. Cut a few openings in the bag, spritz it with water, and a few days later, these guys started sprouting out. [upbeat music] This is the lion’s mane. The other mushroom that we grew. Leo, meet everybody, everybody, this is Leo. You’ll notice that this is a very unique looking mushroom. It doesn’t have gills or pores, like the other mushrooms that we looked at. Instead, it uses these teeth for its spore delivery. Smells a little bit like the white button. Like it’s very mild, but it’s so dense in the center, it almost looks like a cauliflower floret. It’s a really good stand in for lobster or crab, very chewy, but very tender. It’s a little earthier than shellfish is, but it still has that same sweetness, that is really pleasant, and really, really great flavor. Lion’s mane has been used in traditional medicine for a really long time. And today, it is a super popular nutritional supplement. Actually, many mushrooms have uses outside of just tasting delicious and being a good substitute for meat. There are even some mushrooms that may work great as a supplement, but aren’t very delicious on their own. And if you’ve been wondering what that is, that’s one of the ones I’m talking about. This is the reishi mushroom. It can come in a more traditional mushroom shape, with a cap, or it can come in a shape like this, which is referred to as an antler reishi. So reishi is another mushroom that’s been used for years in traditional medicine. It’s said to boost immune function, but it is super bitter to eat on its own. So, a lot of times it’s boiled down to create an extract, or you can just buy it in powder form. Some people swear by mushroom powders and extracts these days. I personally have not tried them yet, but I’m going to see what all the fuss is about. Oh, and it just tastes like very light mushroom stock. It’s not bad. I don’t know why I was so scared, maybe cause the smell was a little off-putting, but I’m actually kind of a fan, okay. The king trumpet, which is related to the oyster mushroom, that we just talked about, except it has a more tree-like shape, and a much thicker stem. Its meaty texture and flavor with all that umami, makes it a great meat substitute. So now we are gonna make some king trumpet steaks. [bright music] So the first thing I’m gonna do is just trim the bottom, where the stem starts to come in. It’s not tough, but it is a little woody, and then cut the mushroom in half lengthwise, so you have the beautiful interior of the stem exposed, and now we’re just gonna score it. So we have a beautiful diamond crosshatch pattern. It just takes something simple, like a mushroom, and just kind of makes it look really fancy, which is always fun. Season our mushroom lightly, maybe not too lightly. And we’re just gonna dust a little bit of Wondra flour, to create a nice, thin crust, that’ll brown evenly in our saute pan. So we’re starting with a nice hot cast iron skillet. You hear that sizzle, which is great, because mushrooms have such a high water content, that you really want them to sear and evaporate that liquid as soon as it starts to come out. We just wanna try to get nice, even browning, just like you would get on a steak. We’re gonna go ahead and add some thyme, garlic, shallot, and a little bit of butter. We’re gonna let the butter melt and infuse all these aromatics into that fat. And then we’re just gonna baste the top of the mushroom, to finish cooking it, and get that flavor inside. Just like you would do a steak, the butter is gonna brown and bubble, and you’re just gonna keep basting. We’re also gonna add our sage. Unlike the thyme, the sage can burn if it cooks for too long, so that’s something that you just wanna add right before the end and let it crisp up in that butter. Hey, so our mushrooms smell amazing. They’re tender and ready to go. So we’re just gonna plate them here, with a little bit of polenta, that is delicious and seasoned with love and Parmesan. And we’re just gonna put our king trumpets right on top. We’re gonna put our crispy sage with that. I love caramelized shallots, so feel free to add as many as you want. And we’re also gonna spoon a little bit of our browned butter, right over the top, because why not? And we’re gonna hit it with a little bit of freshly grated Parmesan. Damn! That is like the most comforting thing that you would ever wanna eat. The texture of the mushrooms is so dense and rich, that it is almost like eating a slice of chicken breast or steak. It’s tender. You get all this deep woodsy flavor. Mm. I have nothing to say. That is just too good for words. Chapter four, Specialty Mushrooms. We have dried chanterelles, black truffle, hedgehog, dried porcini, and fresh morels. For the most part, these mushrooms can only be found in the wild, and are not successfully cultivated on a commercial scale. They usually have short growing seasons that lasts from anywhere from a few weeks to just a few months. This little guy here is the hedgehog mushroom. It is actually really cute. He looks like a little umbrella. Similar to the lion’s mane, hedgehog mushrooms have teeth instead of gills or pores, like some of the other mushrooms we looked at. For amateur foragers, the hedgehog is a great mushroom to start looking for, because of its distinct shape and size and teeth. It’s harder to confuse with some of the mushroom varieties that have deadly lookalikes out there. Disclaimer, do your own research before foraging. This is only a video about cooking. Thank you. [bright music] Hmm. Very earthy, slightly sweet, slightly nutty, almost like an almond flavor to it. Very faint though. Hedgehogs, I would probably just saute with a little bit of garlic and shallot, and I would serve them probably with something very simple, like a piece of fish, or something that has a mild flavor, where the taste of the mushroom won’t be covered up. So chanterelle and porcini mushrooms are two mushrooms that are very hard to find. They’re very seasonal and very expensive. So that’s why we have them here in dried form, which is much more common than finding them fresh. Let’s talk about the chanterelle first. Eating raw chanterelles can be upsetting to your stomach. So maybe just stick with smelling them, when you come across them fresh. It’s kind of like a woodsy caramel smell. In restaurants, a lot of times you’ll see these just simply sauteed and paired with things that don’t cover up their flavor, because they are so delicious and so fleeting during the year, that you really wanna enjoy them for what they are. Sometimes we would saute them in a little bit of foie gras fat, and finish them with garlic and thyme, and they are absolutely delicious, served over ricotta and toast. Porcini means piglet in Italian. I don’t know why, it doesn’t look like a piglet but either way, porcinis are some of the most sought after mushrooms for their flavor and texture. The stems are hearty, and woody, and absolutely delicious, and the caps are tender and delicate, and have a strong flavor, that is amazing with everything from foie gras to chicken, to just served on its own. And I really can’t wait until the season comes around and I can get my hands on some fresh ones. Morel mushrooms are another variety of mushroom that are notoriously difficult to cultivate. Because these mushrooms have such a short growing season and are in such high demand, it really drives the price up and the demand up on these. They have a very distinct honeycomb pattern, with ribs running up and down, and a few smaller ones connecting laterally. So morels can be prepared in a variety of ways. Sometimes you’ll see them sliced thinly into beautiful little rings, that are sauteed and used as garnish on top of a piece of meat. You will also sometimes see larger ones trimmed and stuffed. That is a classic preparation called Morilles Farcies, and it just creates this incredibly delicious, earthy, umami, full dish, that just wraps your whole head in joy. Black truffles. So I’m sure you’ve seen shelves full of products, of truffle varieties, truffle oils, truffle salts, about 90% of them don’t actually contain any truffle at all. They just use synthetic compounds that are made to mimic the aroma and flavor of truffles. I [beep] hate truffle oil. The first time I ever saw truffle was when I was working in a three Michelin star restaurant, in one year, another chef from another fine dining restaurant, gifted us about a half a pound of white truffles, just for the kitchen staff, to use for family meal, because we had just retained our three Michelin stars. And our chef de cuisine made a huge batch of soft scrambled eggs, and just shaved white truffle over, I mean a pan about this size. So I’m gonna share with you the dish that made me fall in love with truffles, and that is soft scrambled eggs with thinly shaved truffle. Although we’re not in white truffle season, so we’ll be using these beautiful black summer truffles. [bright music] So the key to really creamy, soft scrambled eggs is starting it at a low temperature. If you put them into a hot pan, they’re gonna start to cook immediately, and then you’ll get harder, dryer parts of the egg. It takes a little bit longer than starting in a warmer pan, but the resulting texture is so creamy, and rich, and decadent, it is totally worth it. And also an egg pan is like gold. When I used to work brunch service or breakfast, any cook who was doing egg station, would keep the pans in their locker, so that they would always have them available, and other people wouldn’t scratch ’em. Keep ’em moving almost the entire time. They will stay super duper soft, because you’re constantly breaking them up and mixing them into each other. So it’ll be very luxurious, and rich, and yummy. They should be like the texture of risotto, which, look at that, they are. Yay! So I’m gonna give ’em a tiny pinch more salt and a little crack of pepper at the end. And now the shaving of the summer truffle. Winter truffles are gonna be black throughout with white veins. Summer truffles are more of a white color on the inside, with some veining, but it’s more of like a gray on white, instead of black and white. You wanna shave them super thinly, so that you can release as much of that aroma and those essential oils as you can. So even though this looks super simple, it is incredible. I highly recommend taking the time to make a beautiful soft scramble if you’re so inclined, no pressure, but it is very rewarding. It’s just eggs and mushrooms, two of the best things on earth. So that was mushrooms. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I hope you learned a lot, and I hope that you go and try some of these dishes that we made here today. Feel free to leave a comment, and let us know what you wanna see next time, on The Big Guide. I’m Adrienne Cheatham, and I hope to see you again.