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Shiitaki, the Mushroom of the Black Forrest

What Japan is to the Miataki China is to the Shiitaki, its home although both crossed the borders thousands of years ago. Also like the Miataki, the Shiitaki mushroom has been a food staple for almost 4,000 years. The biggest difference might be that Shiitaki is more consumed in food but that might just be because more Chinese food is eaten world wide than Japanese. The big exception there is that Shiitaki mushrooms are part of Japans most famous soup, Miso.

General background

Now the Shiitaki mushroom is grown all over the world, prized for its meaty caps. Infact, because of a lot of vegetarians use Shiitaki mushrooms in the place of meat, especially when grilled and then added to a sandwich. In Russia Shiitaki are pickled and eaten as a snack.

They are cultivated just like Miataki and for the same reason: The herbal Shiitaki is grown on a biomass to prevent contamination but it also grows on wood or wood type product. The Chinese used to cut down fruit trees to provide a home. Now oak is the wood of choice. magic mushrooms sale Shiitaki mushrooms are the ones you want for cooking. To give you a little difference in the price, Shiitaki grown on an artificial media will sell for $4 per pound whereas those grown on oak will go for almost ten times that and yes, there is that big of a difference in taste.

A little tip for those who cook with Shiitaki: you most likely discard the stems because they are tougher than the caps and take longer to cook. Don’t. Save them and boil them in water to start a mushroom broth.

Herbal use

When it comes to herbal uses the Shiitaki must wear blue tights and a cape. The list of its attributes goes on an on. First it is an anti-inflammatory so it is used to treat swollen joints. It strengthens the immune system, particularly with all the influenza types, west Nile encephalitis, bacterial infections and some infectious agents. Its antiviral properties makes it a natural HIV drug. Its most promising leads though, are for treating hepatocellular carcinoma. There are already several clinical studies on that right now as well as on it being given intravenously to some patients. Only time will tell what else this mighty mushroom, Shiitaki, can do.

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