The Whole Story of Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms have a delicious flavor and are also nutritious. These mushrooms are an essential component of many Asian cuisines.
They are less prevalent in North America than portobello or button mushrooms, though. If you’ve never tried them, you might not know how to prepare them. Even where you can get them can be unclear to you.
We’ll go over all there is to know about shiitake mushrooms in this comprehensive guide. Includes how they seem, how to prepare and store them, how nutritious they are, and more.
Shiitake Mushrooms: What Are They?
Shiitake mushrooms, which are pronounced “shee-ta-kay,” are a common ingredient in stir-fries, risotto, soups, and other dishes. Shiitake mushrooms are not only delicious, but they may also improve your health by decreasing cholesterol and increasing your immune system.
Shii refers to the kind of oak tree that these mushrooms frequently grow around, and také is the term for mushroom in Japanese.
Shiitake mushrooms are available in stores both fresh and dried. The cost of shiitake mushrooms is typically higher than that of button or oyster mushrooms. Nonetheless, their flavor is unmatched and rich like flesh.
How Shiitake Mushrooms Appear
Shiitake mushrooms have broad, dark-brown tops in the style of an umbrella. Some may even have a dark appearance. They have cream-colored, considerably thinner, stiffer stems than a cremini or portobello mushroom.
Shiitake mushrooms have a very unique appearance. Once you’ve seen them, they are simple to identify and challenging to confuse with the majority of other mushroom varieties you’ll find in stores.
Growing Shiitake Mushrooms: A Guide
It can be a little trickier to grow shiitake mushrooms than more common varieties like oyster mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are most frequently cultivated outdoors on logs, though they can also be grown from bags of inoculated sawdust.
It can also be more labor-intensive and takes a lot longer than producing oyster mushrooms for them to be ready for harvest.
See our post How To Grow Shiitake Mushrooms: The Definitive Guide for a detailed explanation of how to cultivate shiitake mushrooms yourself.
Throughout the majority of Southeast Asia, wild shiitake mushrooms grow all year round. They thrive on the dead wood of deciduous trees such as shii, oak, maple, beech, chestnut, poplar, mulberry, and several other species.
Shiitake mushrooms have also been cultivated as far back as the 1200s in China.
Today they are grown all around the world, including in Europe and North America. They account for about a quarter of all mushrooms commercially produced each year.
Shiitakes should be well cleaned before cooking and eating, just like any other species of mushroom. They develop near to the ground and might gather an unexpected quantity of dirt and debris. along with the occasional bug.
You should also avoid immersing them in water since they will absorb it and become spongy, just like other types of mushrooms. Instead, clean the caps with a moist paper towel or briefly rinse them under cool running water. After that, shake or spin them dry to get rid of extra moisture.
Is it possible to consume a whole shiitake mushroom? The rough and chewy stems of shiitake mushrooms. In most other dishes, they aren’t worth retaining but are useful for making soup bases.
If you’d like, remove them with a little knife and store them to use for making stock in the future. The stems of shiitake mushrooms are difficult to twist off, so be sure to cut them to avoid breaking the cap.
Shiitake Mushrooms: Supplements
Shiitake mushrooms are not only delicious but also rich in vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. The following nutrients are provided by eating four dried shiitake mushrooms:
11 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of fiber
1 gram of protein
2 mg of calcium
11% of the Daily Value for riboflavin (DV)
1% niacin DV
39% DV for copper
33% DV for vitamin B5
10% Selenium DV
9% manganese DV
15% potassium DV
8% DV of zinc
7% of vitamin B6 DV
6% DV for folate
6% DV of vitamin D
Linoleic acid, an important fatty acid, and all eight essential amino acids are present in these mushrooms, which makes them special. They are one of the few foods (along with a lot of seafood) that naturally contain vitamin D. (primarily vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol). It is understandable why the shiitake mushroom has a history of use in herbalism given these advantageous ingredients.
Benefits of Shiitake Mushroom Supplements
Shiitake mushrooms were grown in central China around the 12th century and were referred to as “an elixir of life” in ancient documents in China.
In recent investigations, shiitake mushroom extract and dried shiitake were found to include compounds that enhance immunological health, skin health, and other conditions. Customers frequently ponder whether to purchase tinctures or powdered mushrooms. While both offer several advantages, powders are often more concentrated and bioavailable.
The active chemicals found in mushrooms have sparked investigations and additional investigation into their potential health advantages. Clinical studies have found anecdotal evidence that a 10:1 ratio of the mushroom fruiting body to the mushroom mycelium yields the best benefit in mushroom complex adaptogens and mushroom extract supplements.
Promote Immune Health* Shiitake has many advantages, one of which is that it supports immune health. The beta-glucan polysaccharides are mostly to blame for this. These polysaccharides support immunological function, general health, and regular, healthy cell growth and turnover, according to studies.
Also, it’s critical to keep in mind the connection between gut health and a strong immune system. Preliminary evidence suggests that mushrooms may support healthy immune and inflammatory responses through interaction with the gut microbiota, supporting the development of adaptive immunity, and immune cell functionality, according to the authors of an article titled “Mushrooms and Health Summit Proceedings.” * 1
Shiitake mushroom consumption led to healthy immunity, as demonstrated by cell proliferation and activation, according to a study done with 52 healthy persons.
* 2 We are encouraged by these encouraging findings, even if more investigation and clinical trials are required.
These mushrooms naturally contain less salt and no saturated fats, supporting heart health. They are a fantastic addition to a heart-healthy diet because they include substances called eritadenine, sterols, and beta-glucans that may help maintain lower cholesterol levels.
According to one study, shiitake powder may help maintain normal blood pressure. 4 When taken in levels of five to twenty percent, shiitake was shown in another study on rats on a high-fat diet to prevent fatty liver and arterial plaque. 5 The next stage is to confirm these assertions through additional study and clinical studies.
Shiitake Mushrooms: Recipe
When using dried shiitake mushrooms, they must first be rehydrated before being added to recipes. The best way to do this is to soak them for 15 to 20 minutes in water that has just begun to boil.
When the mushrooms soak, use a plate or other small weight to help keep them completely submerged. For maximum effects, some even advocate letting them soak in cold water all night.
After soaking dried shiitake mushrooms, you can drain them in a colander or sieve. However, don’t discard the liquid! You can utilize this to assist in making a broth or soup foundation, just like you can with the stems.
Shiitake mushrooms should be chopped into small slices for recipes that cook fast, such as a sauté or stir-fry, to save cooking time.
Leave your shiitake caps intact or simply cut them in half if your recipe calls for roasts or soaps that require a longer cooking time. In this manner, they will cook more thoroughly than if you sliced them into small pieces.
Uncertain about the best shiitake mushroom recipes? Visit our Resource Portal to see 25 of the best vegan mushroom recipe ideas.
Shiitake mushrooms baked
The cooking technique that allows you to set it and forget it is baking. Here is how you do it:
Step 1: Set the oven to 350°F (177 C). Shiitake mushrooms are positioned in the middle of a sheet of aluminum foil that has been spread out. You should leave enough space on the edges so you can fold it into a sealed package.
Step 2: Before you close the foil, drizzle a little butter or olive oil over your mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms can be prepared either by themselves or creatively with the addition of additional ingredients.
You might want to think about including some sliced vegetables, such as tomatoes or onions, or a piece of fish. Salt and pepper can also be used to season food to taste.
Step 3: Bring all four corners of the foil together and pinch them to form a sealed package whenever you’re ready to fold it.
Step 4: After that, just bake them for 15 minutes. You might need to increase the cooking time if you combined your mushrooms with other ingredients. To avoid scorching, check on your mushrooms every few minutes.
Step 5: Carefully open the foil packet when it has finished cooking. Hot steam will be pouring out of it. When you open it, keep your hands out of the way and avoid standing directly on top of it.
Shiitake mushrooms are sautéed
Use a medium-sized pan to sauté the shiitake mushrooms.
Then, warm two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over a medium-high heat.
Step 2: When the oil in the pan is hot to the touch, add the mushrooms and toss them about to coat all surfaces with oil. They should be dispersed such that they are only one layer thick. You might need to prepare several batches of mushrooms if you’re cooking a lot of them.
The mushroom will release too much water and become soggy if you add too many at once.
Sauté your mushrooms for roughly 10 minutes in step three. To ensure even cooking, mix them occasionally. When they turn a golden brown tint, they are finished.
Cooking shiitake mushrooms in a pan
Mushrooms in a stir-fry are traditional for a reason. Here’s a quick method for doing it:
Step 1 : A wok should first be heated on high until it barely starts to smoke.
Step 2 : Add a few teaspoons of your preferred vegetable oil in step two. At this point, you can also include thinly sliced onions, ginger, and garlic.
Step 3: Add your sliced shiitake mushrooms to the wok after cooking for approximately 30 seconds. Your shiitakes will be ready in just one or two minutes, when they are golden brown in color.
What Flavor Does a Shiitake Mushroom Have?
If you’ve only ever had button or portobello mushrooms, you’ll discover that shiitakes have a considerably richer and more potent flavor. They have a flavor that is almost meaty and delicious, known as umami in the culinary world.
In fact, they’re a fantastic alternative to meat in vegetarian dishes. (Read this first if you want to use shiitake mushrooms in a vegan dish.) They can replace the ground beef in lasagna or be used to make veggie burgers. Shiitake mushrooms are reputed to have an even stronger flavor when dried than when they are fresh.
The best places to buy shiitake mushrooms
Compared to button mushrooms, which are typically available in the produce area of most supermarkets, shiitake mushrooms are a little less prevalent.
Shiitake mushrooms are still available in the majority of big-box stores. Find an Asian supermarket in your region if you’re having problems finding them.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms are often sold whole or sliced. Sliced mushrooms won’t remain fresh as long as whole ones do. Moreover, dried shiitake mushrooms might be sold on an international foods aisle or the vegetable department of your neighborhood supermarket.
Shiitake Mushroom Storage
When buying shiitake mushrooms at the shop, they frequently arrive on a tray or in plastic packaging. When you arrive home, take them out of this package and put them in a paper bag.
Your shiitake mushrooms can keep longer if you wrap them in a paper towel to absorb some extra moisture.
In the refrigerator, fresh shiitake mushrooms should keep for approximately a week when packaged in a paper bag. They may spoil considerably faster if you leave them covered in plastic since it might trap moisture.
There are occasions when dried shiitake mushrooms are packaged in an airtight plastic bag. Sometimes they simply arrive in a non-resealable plastic bag. If the latter is the case, you should move them to a glass jar with a cover or another container to keep them dry.
Your dried shiitake mushrooms will last for up to a year if you store them in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight. Your mushrooms will remain edible for even longer if you add a desiccant or oxygen absorber to the jar to cope with any extra moisture that accumulates there over time.
The Best Way to Cook Shiitake Mushrooms (Dried)
Shiitake mushrooms are softer when they are fresh as opposed to dried. Fresh mushrooms are preferable if your dish depends on their texture. But shiitake mushrooms that have been dried are a wonderful complement to soups and other dishes.
You can make sure you always have shiitake mushrooms on hand without having to worry about them spoiling quickly like their fresh counterparts by purchasing some dried shiitake mushrooms for your cupboard.
Before using dried shiitake mushrooms in your dishes, there is a little extra labor needed.
You can remove the stems from the dried mushrooms while they are still drying if you only intend to utilize the caps. The stems should only be used to flavor sauces or soups because they are hard and woody.
The quickest method for rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms is as follows:
Step 1: Arrange your dried shiitake mushrooms gill-down in a bowl or other container.
Step 2: To rehydrate them, cover them with hot (near-boiling) water and let them sit for about 20 minutes.
Or, you might submerge them in cold water and let them to soak over night.
Step 3: After your shiitake mushrooms have hydrated completely, we advise giving them a small push to release any extra water that they may have absorbed. As stated previously, preserve the liquid if you intend to use it as a vegetable stock or soup foundation.
Your dried shiitake mushrooms cannot be dried again once they have been rehydrated. But, if you cooked more than you needed, you can store any leftovers for two or three days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Although we like to dry our shiitake mushrooms, they can also be frozen. For a comprehensive, step-by-step tutorial, see our article Can You Freeze Mushrooms?
Advantages of Shiitake Mushrooms in Terms of Nutrition and Health
What are the benefits of shitake mushrooms? Shiitake mushrooms are not only flavorful, but they also have a lot of nutritional and health advantages.
Since hundreds of years—possibly for thousands of years—shiitake mushrooms have been employed in traditional Chinese medicine and other medicinal practices.
Regarding nutrition, they include a lot of vitamins and minerals. Four dried shiitake mushrooms provide a significant portion of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B5, selenium, zinc, folate, and other nutrients.
Moreover, shiitake mushrooms can be a fantastic source of vitamin D. Unbelievably, placing your mushrooms in the sun for a couple of days will increase their vitamin D level by as much as 460 times! The body needs vitamin D to develop strong bones, but very few foods really contain it.
Shiitake mushrooms are low in salt, fat, cholesterol, and sodium and high in fiber. The soluble fiber beta-glucan, which is unique to these mushrooms, has been shown to help lower cholesterol naturally and support heart health.
Moreover, they are rich in antioxidants, which protect cells from oxidative damage, and they have anti-inflammatory qualities.
However more research must be done, scientists are even investigating a potential connection between eating mushrooms and a decreased incidence of prostate cancer.
The nutritional value of your shiitake mushrooms will be greatly influenced by how they are cultivated, kept, and prepared, just like any other sort of food. So, it is best to purchase from reputable vendors that you are confident are giving you the best possible mushrooms.
What Distinguishes Shiitake and Porcini Mushrooms?
The availability and cost of shiitake and porcini mushrooms are their key distinctions.
Shiitake mushrooms are much easier to find for sale because they are grown all over the world. Particularly new.
As they are so difficult to cultivate commercially, porcini mushrooms are virtually always taken from the wild. Hence, fresh porcinis are only available annually for a brief period of time when the climate is favorable for their growth.
Even when comparing the cost of dried shiitake mushrooms to dried porcinis, the former are typically roughly half as expensive.
While some claim the exact reverse, some claim that porcini mushrooms have a meatier and more wild flavor than shiitake mushrooms. So, it is undoubtedly a subject that is debatable.
We believe both types of mushrooms to be delectable, and we wouldn’t hesitate to use shiitakes in place of porcini in a recipe (or vice versa).
Shiitake mushrooms still have that delightful wild mushroom flavor even if they are grown. They taste earthy and slightly garlicky.
Where and How to Find Shiitake Mushrooms
As shiitake mushrooms are a native of Asia, neither North America nor Europe will ever see them growing in the wild.
Fortunately, they are one of the mushrooms that are farmed the most frequently worldwide, making them simple to locate. Shiitake mushrooms ought to be available in your city’s grocery shop or supermarket, both fresh and dried.
On logs, you may also try growing them yourself. Traditionally, logs have been used to grow shiitake mushrooms outside. Wooden dowels that have been injected with shiitake spawn are inserted into holes that have been bored into logs.
Shiitake Harvest Techniques
When the veil behind the cap is just beginning to separate from the mushroom and the top is still slightly curled, shiitake mushrooms are ready to be harvested. The mushrooms won’t store as well and won’t have as pleasant a texture to eat after the cap gets flat or inverted.
Shiitake mushrooms may take longer to establish themselves than other species, such as oysters, especially if you’re growing them on logs. But, once the mushrooms begin to grow, they do so quite swiftly. Therefore you’ll need to keep a close check on everything.
An immature mushroom and one that is past its peak can differ by just one day of growth.
To carefully cut the stems off of shiitake mushrooms, use a pair of scissors or a knife that is very sharp. They might be torn off or twisted, which could harm the mycelium underneath.
Future flushes (or batches) of mushrooms from the same log or bag of sawdust may suffer as a result. The risk of contamination is decreased and less disruption is caused by carefully clipping the mushrooms off.
Mushrooms should be kept cool as soon as they are collected. Unless they will be promptly dried, keep them at a temperature of around 2 degrees C (36 F).
Drying Shiitake Mushrooms: A Guide
If you won’t be using shiitake mushrooms within a week, drying them is the easiest way to store them. They may be kept for a year with this.
When it comes time to harvest your shiitake mushrooms, there is a good chance that you will have more than you can eat.
Especially if all of your mushrooms decide to sprout at once in the fall. Hence, finding a long-term storage solution for them is essential, and drying them does just that.
Shiitake mushrooms can be dried most easily by just setting them out in the sun. As we already indicated, this also has the additional benefit of significantly increasing the amount of vitamin D present in the mushrooms.
Use a food dehydrator if it’s gloomy or raining outside or if you want a more reliable method. Shiitake mushrooms should be dehydrated overnight at 110 to 120 degrees F (43 to 49 C).
When your shiitake mushrooms are light, brittle, and crispy like a potato chip, they are sufficiently dry.
The Best Way to Choose Shiitakes
Pre-packaged shiitake mushrooms should ideally be avoided if at all possible. You can evaluate each mushroom and determine its quality by poring over a loose jar of mushrooms.
In a prepared container, one poor mushroom can swiftly cause the spoilage of every other mushroom it comes into touch with.
Choose shiitake mushrooms with thick tops if you can. Any dish you prepare them in will have a good meaty taste to it. If the mushrooms will be cooked whole, this is very crucial.
Shiitake mushrooms can be purchased for less by choosing ones with thin or short stems. The stems are too rough and woody to consume. The stems are simply thrown away if you aren’t going to use them to create soup or stock. Hence, you are paying for extra weight that is unnecessary. Shiitake mushrooms can still be chosen so that you pay for the least amount of stem even though it is considered impolite to remove all of the stems before purchasing them.
The origin of your mushrooms will affect how good they are. Shiitake mushrooms cultivated in Japan are more expensive than those grown in China but are of superior quality and are farmed with greater care.
Be certain the shiitake mushrooms you are purchasing appear to be fresh. Avoid mushrooms that are sticky or mushy. They shouldn’t smell unpleasant either. Shiitake mushrooms that are truly fresh will have powdered white spots on their caps.
Finally, resist the impulse to purchase shiitake mushrooms that have been pre-sliced. Both whole and sliced mushrooms can be available in your market. To avoid doing more effort in the kitchen, it can be tempting to buy them already sliced.
The quality of sliced mushrooms is typically inferior. When they’re sliced up, it’s impossible to determine whether a rotting piece was removed or if they were already broken. Moreover, slicing mushrooms in advance makes them dry out more, giving you more chewy and rough mushroom.
Shiitake Season Starts When?
Shiitake mushrooms sold commercially are always accessible at markets.
Between six to twelve months after your logs are inoculated, if you’re producing your own shiitakes, the mushrooms should start to develop.
In the spring, summer, or fall, they can grow. Nonetheless, following a day of intense rain, fresh mushrooms typically emerge. The mushrooms begin to grow as a result of the added moisture and humidity.
Once your shiitake logs have established, you can harvest for up to eight years straight from the same log!
Shiitake Mushroom Varieties
Most of the time, you won’t have a choice in the kind of shiitake mushrooms you purchase. Typically, stores only list “shiitake” on their shelves with no other information. Chefs primarily utilize the grading systems listed below in Japan.
Shiitake mushrooms can be divided into several categories by chefs. Shiitake mushrooms with thicker meat and a broken appearance on their caps are typically regarded as being of greater quality. The caps might sometimes appear to be a small loaf of bread due to the stark contrast between the black and white flesh.
The top grade of shiitake mushrooms is known as Tenpaku Donko. Because they can only be grown in the winter, the top of the mushroom naturally breaks due to the extreme cold.
Another coveted shiitake grade that is only produced throughout the winter is Chabana Donko. They have thicker flesh than mushrooms of lower quality, and the cracking on their top has the appearance of a flower.
The cap of a Donko shiitake is big, thick, and spherical. They are quite chewy and have a strong beef flavor, but they aren’t thought to be as good as the grades above.
Shiitake mushrooms with a more open cap are of the Yori grade. They are frequently utilized in recipes at this time of year since they are connected to the Japanese New Year.
Shiitake mushrooms of the Koshin grade are harvested after the cap has fully opened and have a thinner cap. The scent of any shiitake type is strongest in koshin grade mushrooms. Often, they are diced up and used to soups or rice meals.
Similar to Shiitake Mushrooms
It’s uncommon to come across mushrooms with a similar appearance because the shiitake mushrooms you consume will either be produced on logs you purposely infected yourself or by commercial growers. Nevertheless, there is one thing you need to watch out for.
In some cases, natural logs in woods throughout North America, Europe, and even Australia will sprout Galerina marginata mushrooms. The fatal skullcap and funeral bell are further names for these mushrooms. They are extremely poisonous, as their name suggests, and ought to be avoided.
During some phases of their lives, their yellow-brown crowns can resemble shiitake mushrooms. Despite the fact that shiitake mushrooms have more brownish caps, theirs tend to be more orangish.
Galerina mushrooms typically have a ring around the stem, however as the mushroom ages, this ring may disintegrate.
Taking a spore print is the most reliable method for telling a shiitake mushroom from a galerina. Shiitake spore prints are white, whereas galerina mushroom spore prints are always reddish brown.
Cut a mushroom off at the stem, then set it gills-down on some paper to create a spore print. After that, leave it alone for the night while keeping it moist with a dish.
There is a very slim chance that inoculated shiitake logs will produce mushrooms with a similar appearance. To be on the safe side, keep an eye out for other kinds of “small brown mushrooms” that can also sprout from logs.
Interesting Facts about Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake is referred to as the “black forest mushroom” in China.
Shiitake mushrooms are thought to have been on earth since the Cretaceous period, more than 100 million years ago.
Shiitake mushroom spores are said to have first traveled throughout Asia on the winds of powerful storms during typhoon season.
Although shiitake mushrooms have been farmed for at least 600 years in China, it wasn’t until 1972 that they were allowed to be imported live shiitake cultures that they were first grown in the United States.
One of the most well-liked edible mushroom kinds worldwide is the shiitake. This is particularly true in Asia, however they have gained a sizable following in North America and Europe as well.
Shiitake mushrooms are generally available fresh or dried year-round since they are relatively simple to grow.
If you’ve only ever eaten button or portobello mushrooms, you need to sample shiitake mushrooms in order to really appreciate their flavor. They provide a chewy texture and a flavor that is as near to meat as a mushroom or vegetable can deliver. Whether in mushroom extract form , or eaten, there are numerous health benefits to the shiitake mushroom.