White mushrooms – while common, they are just one of the many types of mushrooms cultivated and eaten
White mushrooms – while common, they are just one of the many types of mushrooms cultivated and eaten

Edible mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several species of macrofungi (fungi which bear fruiting structures that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye). They can appear either below ground (hypogeous) or above ground (epigeous) where they may be picked by hand.[1] Edibility may be defined by criteria that include absence of poisonous effects on humans and desirable taste and aroma.[2] Edible mushrooms are consumed for their nutritional and culinary value. Mushrooms, especially dried shiitake, are sources of umami flavor.[3]: 11, 52, 110 [4]

Edible mushrooms include many fungal species that are either harvested wild or cultivated. Easily cultivated and common wild mushrooms are often available in markets, and 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. Some preparations may render certain poisonous mushrooms fit for consumption.

Before assuming that any wild mushroom is edible, it should be identified. Accurate determination and proper identification of a species is the only safe way to ensure edibility, and the only safeguard against possible accidents. Some mushrooms that are edible for most people can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, and old or improperly stored specimens can 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. 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. Even normally edible species of mushrooms may be dangerous, as mushrooms growing in polluted locations can accumulate pollutants, such as heavy metals.[5]

Despite long-term use in folk medicine, there is no scientific evidence that consuming "medicinal mushrooms" cures or lowers the risk of human diseases.[6][7]

Assorted wild edible mushrooms in a basket
Assorted wild edible mushrooms in a basket

History of mushroom use

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.[8]

Production

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[9]

Culinary uses

See also: List of mushroom dishes

Cooking

Mushrooms are nearly always cooked before consumption. Frying, roasting, baking, and microwaving are all used to prepare mushrooms.

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.

Health and nutrition

White mushrooms, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy93 kJ (22 kcal)
3.3 g
0.3 g
3.1 g
VitaminsQuantity
%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
0%
0 μg
Thiamine (B1)
7%
0.08 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
33%
0.4 mg
Niacin (B3)
24%
3.6 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
30%
1.5 mg
Vitamin B6
8%
0.1 mg
Folate (B9)
4%
17 μg
Vitamin B12
0%
0 μg
Choline
4%
17.3 mg
Vitamin D
1%
7 IU
Vitamin E
0%
0 mg
Vitamin K
0%
0 μg
MineralsQuantity
%DV
Calcium
0%
3 mg
Copper
16%
0.32 mg
Iron
4%
0.5 mg
Magnesium
3%
9 mg
Manganese
2%
0.05 mg
Phosphorus
12%
86 mg
Potassium
7%
318 mg
Selenium
13%
9.3 μg
Zinc
5%
0.52 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water92 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
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)
9%
0.1 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
25%
0.3 mg
Niacin (B3)
30%
4.5 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
44%
2.2 mg
Vitamin B6
8%
0.1 mg
Folate (B9)
5%
18 μg
Vitamin B12
0%
0 μg
Choline
4%
19.9 mg
Vitamin D
4%
21 IU
Vitamin E
0%
0 mg
Vitamin K
0%
0 μg
MineralsQuantity
%DV
Calcium
1%
6 mg
Copper
25%
0.5 mg
Iron
13%
1.7 mg
Magnesium
3%
12 mg
Manganese
5%
0.1 mg
Phosphorus
12%
87 mg
Potassium
8%
356 mg
Selenium
19%
13.4 μg
Zinc
9%
0.9 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water91.1 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Higher mushroom consumption has been associated with lower risk of breast cancer.[10] As of 2021, mushroom consumption has not been shown to conclusively affect risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.[11]

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.[12][13]

Vitamin D

When exposed to UV light before or after harvest, mushrooms convert their large concentrations of ergosterol into vitamin D2.[12][13] 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.[12] Analysis also demonstrated that natural sunlight produced vitamin D2.[13]

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.

Name Chemical composition Structure
Vitamin D1 ergocalciferol with lumisterol, 1:1[14]
Vitamin D2 ergocalciferol (made from ergosterol)
Note double bond at top center.
Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol (made from 7-Dehydrocholesterol in the skin).
Cholecalciferol.svg
The photochemistry of Vitamin D biosynthesis
The photochemistry of Vitamin D biosynthesis

Use 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.[15] Such use of mushrooms therefore falls into the domain of traditional medicine[16] for which there is no direct high-quality clinical evidence of efficacy.[6][7]

Preliminary research on mushroom extracts has been conducted to determine if anti-disease properties exist, such as for polysaccharide-K[17] or lentinan.[18] Some extracts have widespread use in Japan, Korea and China, as potential adjuvants for radiation treatments and chemotherapy.[19][20]

Safety concerns

Some wild species are toxic, or at least indigestible, when raw.[21] The safety of consuming Reishi mushrooms has not been adequately demonstrated, as of 2019.[6] Reishi mushrooms may cause side effects including dryness of the mouth or throat, itchiness, rash, stomach upset, diarrhea, headache, or allergic reactions.[6] Failure to identify poisonous mushrooms and confusing them with edible ones has resulted in death.[21][22][23]

List of edible mushrooms

Commercially cultivated

Mushroom cultivation has a long history, with over twenty species commercially cultivated. Mushrooms are cultivated in at least 60 countries.[24] 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.

Commercially harvested wild fungi

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

Some species are difficult to cultivate; others (particularly mycorrhizal species) have not yet been successfully cultivated. Some of these species are harvested from the wild and can be found in markets. When in the season they can be purchased fresh, and many species are sold dried as well. The following species are commonly harvested from the wild:

Other edible wild species

Many wild species are consumed around the world. The species which can be identified "in the field" (without use of special chemistry or a microscope) and therefore safely eaten vary widely from country to country, even from region to region. This list is a sampling of lesser-known species that are reported as edible.

Auricularia auricula-judae
Lactarius salmonicolor

Conditionally-edible species

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Edible mushroom" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (November 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A. muscaria, a conditionally-edible species
A. muscaria, a conditionally-edible species

See also

References

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