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White mushrooms and enoki mushrooms are some of the most common edible mushrooms, commonly sold in stores.

Edible mushrooms are the fleshy fruit bodies of several species of macrofungi (fungi that bear fruiting structures large enough to be seen with the naked eye). Edibility may be defined by criteria including the absence of poisonous effects on humans and desirable taste and aroma. Mushrooms that have a particularly desirable taste are described as "choice". Edible mushrooms are consumed for their nutritional and culinary value. Mushrooms, especially dried shiitake, are sources of umami flavor.

To ensure safety, wild mushrooms must be correctly identified before their edibility can be assumed. Deadly poisonous mushrooms that are frequently confused with edible mushrooms include several species of the genus Amanita, particularly A. phalloides, the death cap. Some mushrooms that are edible for most people can cause allergic reactions in others; old or improperly stored specimens can go rancid and cause food poisoning.[1] Additionally, mushrooms can absorb chemicals within polluted locations, accumulating pollutants and heavy metals including arsenic and iron—sometimes in lethal concentrations.

Several varieties of fungi contain psychedelic compounds—the magic mushrooms—while variously resembling non-psychoactive species. The most commonly consumed for recreational use are Amanita muscaria (the fly agaric) and Psilocybe cubensis, with the former containing alkaloids such as muscimol and the latter predominately psilocybin.

Edible mushrooms include many fungal species that are either harvested wild or cultivated. Easily cultivated and common wild mushrooms are often available in markets; those that are more difficult to obtain (such as the prized truffle, matsutake, and morel) may be collected on a smaller scale and are sometimes available at farmers' markets or other local grocers. Despite long-term use in folk medicine, there is no scientific evidence that consuming "medicinal mushrooms" cures or lowers the risk of human diseases.

Description

Assorted wild edible mushrooms

Mushrooms can appear either below ground (hypogeous) or above ground (epigeous) and can be picked by hand.[2] Edibility may be defined by criteria including the absence of poisonous effects on humans and desirable taste and aroma.[3] Edible mushrooms are consumed for their nutritional and culinary value. Mushrooms, especially dried shiitake, are sources of umami flavor.[4][5]

List of edible mushrooms

Commercially cultivated

Commercially harvested wild fungi

Commercially cultivated Japanese edible mushroom species (clockwise from left): enokitake, buna-shimeji, bunapi-shimeji, king oyster mushroom and shiitake

Other edible wild species

Auricularia auricula-judae
Lactarius salmonicolor

Conditionally edible species

A. muscaria, a conditionally-edible species

Cultivation

Mushroom cultivation has a long history, with over twenty species commercially cultivated. Mushrooms are cultivated in at least 60 countries.[23] A fraction of the many fungi consumed by humans are currently cultivated and sold commercially. Commercial cultivation is important ecologically, as there have been concerns of the depletion of larger fungi such as chanterelles in Europe, possibly because the group has grown popular, yet remains a challenge to cultivate.

Some mushrooms, particularly mycorrhizal species, have not yet been successfully cultivated.

In 2019, world production of commercial mushrooms and recorded truffle collection reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization was 11.9 million tonnes, led by China with 75% of the total:

Mushroom and truffle production – 2019
Country (millions of tonnes)
 China 8.94
 Japan 0.47
 United States 0.38
 Poland 0.36
 Netherlands 0.30
World 11.90
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations[24]

Safety concerns

Some wild species are toxic, or at least indigestible, when raw.[25] Failure to identify poisonous mushrooms and confusing them with edible ones has resulted in death.[25][26][27] Although in the 21st century primitive digital applications exist to aid with identification (some bolstered by artificial intelligence), these are unreliable and some inexperienced hunters relying upon them have been seriously poisoned.[28]

Deadly poisonous mushrooms that are frequently confused with edible mushrooms and responsible for many fatal poisonings include several species of the genus Amanita, particularly Amanita phalloides, the death cap. Some mushrooms that are edible for most people can cause allergic reactions in some individuals with no prior knowledge of an allergy; old or improperly stored specimens can go rancid quickly and cause food poisoning. Great care should therefore be taken when eating any fungus for the first time, and only small quantities should be consumed in case of individual allergies or reactions. Even normally edible species of mushrooms may be dangerous, as certain mushrooms growing in polluted locations can act as chemical-absorbers, accumulating pollutants and heavy metals, including arsenic and iron, sometimes in lethal concentrations.[29] On the other hand, some cooking preparations may reduce the toxicity of slightly poisonous mushrooms enough to be consumed as survival food.[citation needed]

Additionally, several varieties of fungi are known and documented to contain psychedelic drugs—the so-called magic mushrooms—yet resemble perfectly edible, non-psychoactive species. While not necessarily lethal to consume, to the uninitiated, an accidentally induced psychedelic experience can run the gamut from benign to terrifying, even depressing or psychotic. The most commonly consumed for recreational psychoactive use are Amanita muscaria (the fly agaric) and Psilocybe cubensis, with the former containing alkaloids such as muscimol and the latter predominately psilocybin. Both have the potential to induce in the user feelings of awe, wonder with nature, interesting visual hallucinations and inner peace (even in mild doses), but excessive or accidental consumption can create feelings of insanity, helplessness and fear, usually persisting for a few hours.

Nutrition

White mushrooms, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy117 kJ (28 kcal)
5.3 g
0.5 g
2.2 g
VitaminsQuantity
%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
0%
0 μg
Thiamine (B1)
8%
0.1 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
23%
0.3 mg
Niacin (B3)
28%
4.5 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
44%
2.2 mg
Vitamin B6
6%
0.1 mg
Folate (B9)
5%
18 μg
Vitamin B12
0%
0 μg
Choline
4%
19.9 mg
Vitamin D
3%
21 IU
Vitamin E
0%
0 mg
Vitamin K
0%
0 μg
MineralsQuantity
%DV
Calcium
0%
6 mg
Copper
56%
0.5 mg
Iron
9%
1.7 mg
Magnesium
3%
12 mg
Manganese
4%
0.1 mg
Phosphorus
7%
87 mg
Potassium
12%
356 mg
Selenium
24%
13.4 μg
Zinc
8%
0.9 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water91.1 g

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[30] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[31]

Higher mushroom consumption has been associated with lower risk of breast cancer.[32] As of 2021, mushroom consumption has not been shown to conclusively affect risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.[33]

A commonly eaten mushroom is the white mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). In a 100-gram (3+12-ounce) reference serving, Agaricus mushrooms provide 92 kilojoules (22 kilocalories) of food energy and are 92% water, 3% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and 0.3% fat. They contain high levels of riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, with moderate content of phosphorus (see table). Otherwise, raw white mushrooms generally have low amounts of essential nutrients. Although cooking by boiling lowers mushroom water content only 1%, the contents per 100 grams for several nutrients increase appreciably, especially for dietary minerals.

The content of vitamin D is absent or low unless mushrooms are exposed to sunlight or purposely treated with artificial ultraviolet light, even after harvesting and processed into dry powder.[34][35]

Vitamin D

Name Chemical composition Structure
Vitamin D1 ergocalciferol with lumisterol, 1:1[36]
Vitamin D2 ergocalciferol (made from ergosterol) Note double bond at top center.
Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol (made from 7-Dehydrocholesterol in the skin).

When exposed to UV light before or after harvest, mushrooms convert their large concentrations of ergosterol into vitamin D2.[34][35] This is similar to the reaction in humans, where vitamin D3 is synthesized after exposure to sunlight.

Testing showed an hour of UV light exposure before harvesting made a serving of mushrooms contain twice the FDA's daily recommendation of vitamin D. With 5 minutes of artificial UV light exposure after harvesting, a serving of mushrooms contained four times as much.[34] Analysis also demonstrated that natural sunlight produced vitamin D2.[35]

The form of vitamin D found in UV-irradiated mushrooms is ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2. This is not the same as cholecalciferol, called vitamin D3, which is produced by UV-irradiation of human or animal skin, fur, and feathers. Although vitamin D2 has vitamin-D activity in humans, and is widely used in food fortification and nutritional supplements, vitamin D3 is more commonly used in dairy and cereal products.

Uses

Edible mushrooms include many fungal species that are either harvested wild or cultivated. Easily cultivated and common wild mushrooms are often available in markets; those that are more difficult to obtain (such as the prized truffle, matsutake, and morel) may be collected on a smaller scale by private gatherers, and are sometimes available at farmers' markets or other local grocers. Mushrooms can be purchased fresh when in season, and many species are also sold dried.

Before assuming that any wild mushroom is edible, it should be correctly identified. Accurate determination of and proper identification of a species is the only safe way to ensure edibility, and the only safeguard against possible poisoning. Some edible species cannot be identified without the use of advanced techniques such as chemistry or microscopy.

History

Mycophagy /mˈkɒfəi/, the act of consuming mushrooms, dates back to ancient times. Edible mushroom species have been found in association with 13,000-year-old archaeological sites in Chile. Ötzi, the mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE in Europe, was found with two types of mushroom. The Chinese value mushrooms for their supposed medicinal properties as well as for food. Ancient Romans and Greeks, particularly the upper classes, used mushrooms for culinary purposes. Food tasters were employed by Roman emperors to ensure that mushrooms were safe to eat.[37] The Forme of Cury, a 14th-century compilation of medieval English recipes, features a recipe of mushrooms and leeks cooked in broth.[38]

Culinary

See also: List of mushroom dishes

Cooking

Mushrooms may be cooked before consumption to improve texture and lower trace levels of toxic hydrazines. Frying, roasting, baking, and microwaving are all used to prepare mushrooms. Cooking lowers the amount of water present in the food. Mushrooms do not go mushy with long term cooking because the chitin that gives most of the structure to a mushroom does not break down until 380 °C (716 °F) which is not reached in any normal cooking.[39][40]

Storage

Mushrooms will usually last a few days, longer if refrigerated. Mushrooms can be frozen, but are best cooked first. They can also be dried or pickled.

In traditional medicine

Main article: Medicinal fungi

Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms or extracts from mushrooms that are thought to be treatments for diseases, yet remain unconfirmed in mainstream science and medicine, and so are not approved as drugs or medical treatments.[41] Such use of mushrooms therefore falls into the domain of traditional medicine[42] for which there is no direct high-quality clinical evidence of efficacy.[43][44]

Preliminary research on mushroom extracts has been conducted to determine if anti-disease properties exist, such as for polysaccharide-K[45] or lentinan.[46] Some extracts have widespread use in Japan, Korea and China, as potential adjuvants for radiation treatments and chemotherapy.[47][48]

See also

References

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