Lentinula edodes, also known as the shiitake mushroom or oak mushroom is said to be the favourite mushroom in Japan. The other names for these mushrooms are black mushroom, golden oak mushroom, sawtooth oak mushroom, and black forest mushroom. The shiitake mushroom is valuable for their culinary and medicinal properties. This mushrooms have been enjoyed widely for centuries in Asian countries and in small quantities by Native American. It is the third most widely produced mushroom in the world and American. Manufacture of shiitake has increased faster than any other specialty mushroom. The shiitake can be described as a large, umbrella-shaped mushroom which is dark brown in color.
It comes with a convex to flat pileus (cap) supported by a fibrous stipe. Lentinula species characteristically produce white spores. In comparison with milk, eggs, soy beans, and meat, shiitake contains high vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B,l B12, C, D and niacin. Its medicinal properties include antifungal, antiviral, and contains lentinan, a polysaccharide that has anti-tumor effects, which also protects your liver, relieves stomach ailments, anemia, and pleural effusion. The consumption of shiitake mushrooms can lower blood cholesterol levels and is reported to lower high blood pressure because of the eritadenine content.
Shiitake also helpful for blood sugar stabilization, reduced platelet aggregation, and reduced atherosclerosis. In addition, shiitake mushrooms are a major diet essential in China, source of protein in Japan, and other parts of the world. Lentinula edodes produce basidia. Basidium, a club- shaped and responsible for spore production whereas spores produced are referred to as basidiospores. Basidia are where both karyogamy and meiosis take place.
Basidia form on gills and therefore the mushroom cap itself serves as protection for this important reproductive structure. Once spores are dispersed from the gills and germinate, they form haploid hyphae. Next, the haploid hyphae find a mating pair, undergo plasmogamy, and are then dikaryotic mycelium. When conditions are right, the fruiting body of Lentinula edodes will form. When the two nuclei fuse together, karyogamy occurs.
The nucleus, which is then diploid goes through meiosis. The haploid spores are then in the basidia and can be dispelled by the wind. From there, the life cycle starts all over again.
The history of shiitake cultivation is compiled by He Zhan in 1209 in the Records of Longquan County during the Southern Song dynasty. The description of shiitake cultivation from that literature was later crossed-referenced many times and finally modified in the first book on shiitake cultivation by a Japanese horticulturist, Sat? Ch?ry? in 1796. Shiitake mushrooms feed saprobically on hardwood logs including American beech, sugar maple, oak, and hophornbeam in the Northeast. Softwood should not be used as a growing substrate to cultivate shiitake mushrooms because he resin of softwoods will frequently inhibit the growth of the shiitake mushroom. Shiitake grows under forest shed condition on warm and moist climates in southeast Asia and on the decaying wood of deciduous trees, particularly shii, chestnut, oak, maple, beech, sweetgum, mulberry, poplar, hornbeam, ironwood, and chinquapin (Castanopsis spp.
). Lentinus edodes is largely produced in Japan, China and South Korea. It accounts for 10% of world production of cultivated mushrooms. It is also common in Australia and North America. Cultivated shi’itake is exported as it is an important commercial species with contribution about 30% of total yearly production of mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms have been commercially grown in the United States for over 20 years and are now well accepted by American gourmet markets. Shiitake may be used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes and is valued for its full-bodied flavor, dark color and meaty texture.
Hardwood logs are inoculated with the mycelium of the shiitake fungus in order to produce shiitake mushrooms. Next, holes are drilled in the hardwood logs, and it is filled with cultured shiitake mycelium or inoculum and the filled holes are sealed with hot wax to complete the inoculation. The logs are placed under the closed canopy of a coniferous stand and are left to incubate for 12 to 15 months after the inoculation proces. Once incubation is complete, the logs are soaked in water for 24 hours. Shiitake mushrooms will begin to fruit and can be harvested once fully ripe 7 to 10 days after soaking. There are many uses of fresh and dried mushroom in the East Asia cuisines. They are often sautéed in vegetarian dishes in China and served in miso soup in Japan.
It acts as a flavour in many steamed and simmered cuisine. A basic research to evaluate whether consumption of shiitake mushrooms affects disease properties is continuously being done although no effect has been proven with adequate research until now. Rarely, consumption of slightly cooked or raw shiitake mushrooms may cause an allergic reaction called “shiitake dermatitis”, including a micro-papular rash that occurs all over the body. This effect is more common in Asia but the occurrence in Europes may be increasing as shiitake consumption increases. To get rid of the allergenicity, complete cooking may be done. There is also a research investigating the use of shiitake mushrooms in production of organic fertilizer and compost from hardwood.
To summarize, the beneficial properties of shiitake mushrooms have been appreciated in traditional medicine for over 6,000 years. This fungi were mentioned in some of the earliest medical texts known for their health benefits. They do not grow wild in the US, and are native only to parts of Asia, but have been cultivated in the US extensively in the past few decades. They are cultivated by drilling holes in cut wood and they have since become the second most cultivated mushroom in the world. They have grown more popular in cooking, particularly Asian cuisines, and their popularity in providing numbers of health benefits has only been proved by research and by medical reports.