Edible mushroom

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File:White mushrooms on board.jpg
White mushrooms being prepared for cooking. While common, they are just one of the many types of mushrooms cultivated and eaten.

An edible mushroom is a mushroom that can potentially be safely eaten, including thousands of types of mushrooms that are regularly harvested. Some species that cannot be easily cultivated, such as the truffle or matsutake, are highly prized. On the other hand, some edible mushrooms may have extremely bad taste, such as the Bitter bolete mushroom.

Before assuming that any wild mushroom is edible, check safety rules and be sure of its identification.


History of mushroom use

The pharaohs of Egypt enjoyed mushrooms so much, that they decreed mushrooms could only be eaten by royalty and that no commoner could even touch them, thus giving the royal family the entire available supply. In some parts of Eurasia, especially in Russia and Nordic countries, mushrooms are an important part of the diet. Several mushrooms are especially tasty and many are rich on nutrients. Mushrooms are also easily preserved, and historically have provided additional nutrition over winter.

Many prehistoric and a few modern cultures around the world used psychedelic mushrooms for ritualistic purposes. Before 10,000 BCE while people were still hunting and gathering as a part of every day life, women did the gathering. Women were said to be blessed with the ability to see in the dim light so they were successful in foraging for mushrooms and fungi amongst other things[citation needed]. Mushroom cultivation reached the United States in the late 1800s with imported spores from Mexico. Some species such as death cap are extremely poisonous and have been deliberately used as instruments of assassination.[citation needed]

Mycophagy (my-CAH-fa-jee)(mai'kɒfədʑi), the act of consuming mushrooms, dates back to the times of ancient Roman Caesars. They would have a food taster taste the mushrooms before the Caesar to make sure they were safe.

Current culinary use

A fraction of the many fungi consumed by humans are currently cultivated and sold commercially. Pioneers such as Paul Stamets are introducing more into cultivation. Commercial cultivation is important ecologically, as there have been concerns of depletion of larger fungi such as chanterelles in Europe, possibly because the group has grown so popular yet remains a challenge to cultivate.

Commercially cultivated fungi

File:Shiitake growing s.jpg
Home cultivated shiitake developing over approximately 24 hours.

Other edible fungi

Wild fungi commonly picked and consumed include:

File:Aa black and white fungi 1.jpg
Black fungi, white fungi

Conditionally edible species

There are treatments to reduce or eliminate the toxicity of certain species to the point that they can be edible. This can be done even with fungi that are widely regarded as toxic.

See also

References

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