Did you know that wood ear mushrooms actually look like ears? Or that they have both edible and medicinal qualities? Read on to learn more about these and other wood ear mushroom key facts!
Quick Facts About Wood Ear Mushrooms
|Scientific Name:||Auricularia auricula-judae|
|Common Names:||Black fungus, jelly ear, cloud ear|
|Type of Organism:||Fungus: mushroom|
|Physical Description:||Cup-shaped jelly mushrooms, light to dark brown in color. Stemless and gill-less with a white to yellow spore print. These mushrooms grow on dead and decaying deciduous wood, becoming darker and more shriveled as they age. The cups face downward and have crinkles and ruffles, making them look like human ears. They have a rubbery, jelly-like texture with a faint velvety surface.|
|Distribution:||Found in temperate and subtropical regions throughout the world, especially in Asia and North America.|
|Habitat:||Temperate and subtropical deciduous forests; moist, shady, cool environments.|
|Size:||1 to 6 inches across|
|Season:||Typically late summer through early winter; sometimes early spring as well.|
|Uses:||– Food: added to soups, stews, stir-fries, salads and other recipes. |
– Health: Thought to have some health benefits, including the ability to lower cholesterol, kill cancer cells, and improve overall health with high antioxidant levels.
What Are Wood Ear Mushrooms?
Wood ear mushrooms are a type of flexible, gelatinous mushroom that grow on dead and decaying wood. They are found primarily in temperate deciduous forests growing on elder and ash trees that are either dying or already dead.
These mushrooms can also be cultivated. They are most commonly found in Asia, but they grow well throughout the world as long as they have a moist, temperate environment.
The mushrooms are light to dark brown in color and shaped much like a human ear. They are rubbery and flexible with a soft, velvety layer on the surface.
They have neither stems nor gills, and they typically grow in clusters. They are both edible and highly nutritious, and many people believe they benefit heart health, block the growth of bacteria, and even kill cancer cells.
Wood ear mushrooms grow primarily between May and November, though they may appear for a short period of time in the early spring as well. They can be cultivated year-round as long as they have the proper growing conditions.
What is the Wood Ear Mushroom Good For?
Wood ear mushrooms are a healthy, nutritious food. They have a mild, non-distinct flavor that absorbs the flavors of whatever spices or sauces they are cooked with.
They are primarily enjoyed for their texture, which is soft and jelly-like inside while being crispy on the outside. Because of their mild flavor, they can be used in many different kinds of recipes, such as soups, sauces, salads, stir-fries, and many more.
So, they are excellently versatile mushrooms that even many non-mushroom-lovers enjoy eating (see how to tell if they gone bad). What’s more, they are high in protein, low in fat and carbs, and packed with vitamins and nutrients.
Thanks to their high nutrition content, they are also thought to have health benefits. Studies have shown that they encourage heart health by lowering cholesterol; that they help to destroy cancer cells; and that they improve overall health due to a large amount of antioxidants.
They have also been shown to discourage bacterial growth and activity even from such strains as E. coli and staphylococcus aureus.
To learn more about the health benefits of wood ear mushrooms, check out the video below:
Wood ears are edible mushrooms that grow on dead and decaying wood. They have a jelly-like texture and a mild flavor, making them a popular food among mushroom enthusiasts and those who enjoy Asian cuisine. Find our more information on how to clean and dry them properly.
Read also about other forest mushrooms – here are our guides about Black Trumpets, Boletes, Death Caps.