Saturday, December 2, 2023

13 Most Expensive Mushrooms: Can You Afford To Buy These in 2021?

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In this article, we take a look at the most expensive mushrooms, why they are priced so high, their characteristics, how to eat them, and some cool interesting facts about these fungi that we call food! If you’ve come here to check out growing mushrooms for profit or are just dying to know if you can afford them, we’ve got everything you need to know starting with the most expensive mushrooms and decreasing their cost as you scroll down! 

What Are The Most Expensive Mushrooms? 

1. Yartsa Gunbu (Costs $50,000 Per Pound)

These pricey pieces of fungi are considered the most expensive mushrooms in the world. 

Nickname: The Viagra Of The Himalayas. The best quality Yartsa ranges for about $2,000 an ounce. Being able to afford it is considered a symbol of status! They are prized throughout the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau in the altitudes between the 3,000 to 5,000-meter marks. 

Parasitic: They sprout from the bodies of ghost moth caterpillars and are called a parasitic fungus. This is because they infect the caterpillar bodies with tiny spores which are air-borne. After penetrating the caterpillars, the fungus eats its host alive. Their host, the caterpillars start to die in a mummified position in an upright position “standing” upright in the dirt near the earth’s surface. The next stage happens during the early spring when the fungus emerges from the dead caterpillar and pokes right through its head (creepy) to reach the top of the soil. 

Shape: The long thin mushrooms with round tops are easy to harvest under the soil, and is long and skinny, with an appearance something like a knobby carrot

Aphrodisiac: The story behind these mushrooms is not very appetizing, but Tibetan men believe ancient texts which identify the fungus as an aphrodisiac. 

2. European White Truffle (Costs $3,600 Per Pound)

As a mushroom lover, you probably already heard of these edible fungi or at least the term truffle. European White Truffles are considered the second most expensive mushrooms in the world. 

Though many believe truffles are different from mushrooms, they are both forms of fungi. 

Scarce and Rare: What makes truffles so very expensive is that they are difficult to harvest so there are fewer of them to go around. Truffles have traditionally been treasured in Europe and are among the rarest food products available! These unique white truffle is stubborn and resisted efforts at cultivation, and that’s why the price is consistently high

Hunting: Truffle hunters search through countries like Italy and France seeking the prized delicacy. Moreover, the more familiar black truffle is being cultivated in more European locations and is easily available to chefs and mushroom lovers in other countries. For example, the Italian white Alba still holds the crown for the most expensive well-known mushroom.

Features: The truffle hunters take time to find the wild truffles and plenty of expertise, as they grow underground but this is a sight that is relatively commonplace throughout Europe. Still, they are stubborn to harvest. The assistance of truffle-sniffing female pigs or trained truffle dogs helps to detect the strong odor of the ripe mushroom.

Thievery: They are so scarce that a black market for them has emerged for truffle thieves and those who also steal the truffle-sniffing dogs! Imports of poor truffles from China have been peddled, and these are considered not as high quality as the European versions. Then there are also reports of these expensive mushrooms being stolen from restaurants. 

Cost: Usually $1,500 to $4,000 per pound, depending on the harvest, and the market.

3. Matsutake (Costs $1,000 – $2,000 Per Pound) 

These mushrooms are considered the third most expensive mushrooms of the world. For many Japanese,The Matsutake mushroom is a form of fungi which traditionally signaled the coming of autumn. 

Features: In Japan, these pricey pieces of fungi are a delicacy. 

The Japanese Matsutake is an easily-recognizable-looking mushroom thanks to its smallish, pale colour with a well-formed cap and short stem. It has distinctive gills on the underside of the cap, and is treasured for its spicy, slightly fruity flavor and aroma.

Endangered: Typically it grows under red pine trees in the Tamba region of Japan, near Kyoto. There are fewer trees, so there are fewer mushrooms underneath them. Unfortunately, methods for cultivating these mushrooms have not been developed yet, and this makes the Matsutake an endangered species.

4. Black Truffles (Costs $800 – $900 Per Pound)

Our fourth pricey pieces of fungi are the black truffle price because they are so highly prized in Europe, and challenging to harvest.

Thievery: A kind of “black market” for truffles continues to exist in some areas.

Hunting: The French Black Perigord or tuber melanosporum, is still primarily a European product, harvested in the traditional way with the help of trained animals. Trained dogs have largely replaced the female pigs traditionally used to root out truffles. It seems the pigs devoured too many of the pricey mushrooms when digging them up! However, because of high demand and long shipping delays, commercial cultivation has been initiated in Australia and the United States (in Tennessee, Kentucky, California, and Oregon). New hot markets include Slovenia and Croatia, where truffles and truffle products are highly popular.

Market: In 2017, more than 425 tons of truffles, fresh, dried, and canned, were imported in the United States, an increase of 75% from just seven years earlier, according to USDA statistics. The primary market is for chefs and restaurants. Still, truffles are occasionally available at local markets in the states where they are harvested, just as they are in Europe during the season. 

5. Morels (Costs $254 Per Pound)

Dried Morels actually fetch more per pound vs when they are fresh. This makes them one of the most expensive mushrooms in the markets around the world. Why? The dehydrated ones are  more expensive per pound because the mushrooms are lighter, and it takes much more mass to make up a pound. 

Market: Morels only appear in their own season. In the United States they are found specifically from late March through May. Though they are available in every state, foragers find the delicate mushrooms are most abundant in the states of the Midwest. 

Flavour: Thanks to a nutty flavor that is similar to Shiitake Mushrooms, they offer us a more intense, unique taste. Because they are typically small, they are served as a sort of garnish, or with an accompanying sauce.

Hunting:  Their price tag is high as they are a seasonal delicacy with locations often kept hidden by seasoned Morel hunters. They’re difficult to hunt for because they are surrounded by trees and camouflaged by the leaves and debris typical of the forest floor. 

Features:  The Morel mushrooms have a distinctive ruffled head, which some liken to the appearance of a sponge or a brain. These expensive mushrooms almost like little trolls standing at attention on a forest floor. With a sturdy stem and a ruffled, conical “head,” they also can look slightly comical, even when cooked and served with other foods.  

6. Chanterelles (Costs $224 Per Pound)

Chanterelles are easy to identify beautiful golden mushrooms that grow in coniferous forests and in the grass next to herbs. But these mushrooms are expensive because they need specific growing conditions

Features: The mushrooms come in white, yellow and orange varieties, the golden color is a favorite. A golden Chanterelle almost looks flower-like when it’s spotted on a mossy forest floor.

A heavy rainfall followed by several days of heat and humidity is what helps them grow in huge clusters around the end of spring. Interestingly, they completely disappear when autumn arrives. They have smooth caps and ridges that run down each stem. They must be completely cooked, as they can make people ill when eaten raw.

Flavour: The Chanterelle is prized by gourmands for its spicy flavor. 

Markets: They are typically found in central Europe and Ukraine, where beech trees coexist with pines. The golden variety is highly sought, but other colors are equally tasty. 

7. Wild Guchchi –  (Costs Around $187 Per Pound)

From the Himalayas hails one of the most expensive mushrooms which grows wild on the foothills of the snowy mountains. Yes, they are unique as they grow in the Himalayan region after a period of snowfall. These mushrooms command a huge demand despite their high price tag for their spongy, honeycomb texture and unique flavour. But that’s not the only reason for the luxury pricing. Guchchi mushrooms cannot be cultivated commercially. 

Nickname: The Guchchi mushroom is also known as Morel Mushrooms or Morchella Esculenta scientifically or locally called ‘guchchi’. 

Market: They are stubborn and only grow wild in some regions like the Kangara Valley, Jammu and Kashmir, Manali and other parts of Himachal Pradesh. The villagers start the laborious process of collecting these elusive mushrooms sometime around March which continues till May-end. They start at the crack of the dawn and spend their day their entire day wandering through risky areas and sometimes digging through thick layers of snow to find these hidden treasures.

Hunting: These mushrooms usually grow in clusters on logs of decaying wood or decaying leaves and even in humus soil. They may or not grow in the same spot the next season and they are notoriously unpredictable as they may show up anywhere. The villagers look keenly with close attention to the ground and yet there’s always a possibility that they may miss them. Thus begins the painful process to source them and sometimes farmers may only return with a few grams of guchchi mushrooms. Next, the mushrooms are strewn into a garland and hung over fire to dry. 

Features: These mushrooms are very fragile and a lot of effort is required to retain their beautiful unique, pleated honeycomb texture. 

Flavour: These earthy mushrooms need to be soaked in hot water for at least an hour to moisten them and to remove all the dirt and sand particles that may cling to the porous skin of the mushroom. The best use of fresh guchchi mushrooms is perhaps in pulao where you can enjoy their musky flavour.

“Although many chefs have experimented with Gucchi Kebabs and Tandoori Gucchi in gravy combining it with other expensive ingredients like fragrant spices, saffron, and dried fruits, I prefer making the Guchchi Pulao. Using the water in which the guchchi is soaked for the pulao emanates a nice nutty flavour with a meaty texture that is difficult to resist. It is always better to slice the guchchi and cook as the surface area touching the food increases and thus the flavour is enhanced. Guchchi does not require too much spicing and marination and in fact that may ruin the dish,” shares Chef Vineet Manocha.

Chef Sadaf Hussain, a contestant from MasterChef India 2016,  also stated to one publisher: 

“My first encounter with guchchi was in Kashmir. These mushrooms are very famous there and usually served at weddings. Large morels are often old and are prone to sponginess, they can break down easily. I feel the smaller morels are safer and taste better. The best way to enjoy these amazing mushrooms is to break off the stem, slice them in half and sear them in oil on high heat to give them a nice brown color. This will also make them soft. Then, you can add some minced onions, ginger and garlic and saute nicely. Finally, finish it off with a spoonful of butter. The butter will melt and get soak into all the crevices which will only add to the flavour. You can also squeeze some lemon juice, add salt and pepper and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. You’ll get the most basic but the most amazing guchchi dish to enjoy.”

8. Enoki Mushrooms (Costs $108 Per Pound)

This highly prized fungus has travelled the world most commonly used in stir-fry dishes and soups; the attached ends should be cut off to separate individual strands. Common in Asian cooking, they typically retain their crunch, even when sauteed. 

Features: Cute long stems and tiny caps. Enoki mushrooms are little clumps of edible fungi “fruit” that are fun to use in many dishes and have a mild flavor, somewhat reminiscent of fresh white grape or mild radish. One of the more unique varieties, Enoki Mushrooms call to mind the image of miniature cauliflower, or glossy bean sprouts with cute white button ends. 

Healthy: They have significant nutritional content, with high percentages of niacin and folate, as well as pantothenic acid, phosphorus, thiamin, potassium, and riboflavin.

9. Porcini Mushrooms (Costs Between $55 – $70 Per Pound)

There are several different species —when it comes to The highly prized Boletus Edulis, or “King Bolete” mushrooms. These stubborn mushrooms are found in hardwood forests, typically on the ground among hemlock, spruce chestnut, and pine trees. 

Nicknames: “King Bolete and the Italian word for them (Porcini ) translates to “piglets.”

Market: They are not easily cultivated, and they don’t live everywhere, so they are sometimes difficult to find. Famously grown in Italy, they are also found in other parts of Europe, North America, and in some other countries.

Features: Porcini Mushrooms are famous for their oversized caps, sometimes up to 10 inches in diameter, they also have sturdy, fat stems, and they look heavy. When mature, they can weigh up to a few pounds.

Flavour: They also have a hearty, nutty flavor that is distinctive and can be used in many different dishes. 

10. Lion’s Mane (Costs Between $8 – $36 Per Pound)

These pricey pieces of fungi not only have a cool name, but they are also one of the most other-worldly edible mushrooms,

Shape: Although it has a sprawling, undefined shape with no cap and no stem, Lion’s Mane has the look of a round balloon with long, shaggy “lion mane” or hair spines that give it a furry appearance. When young, it is white, but can age to a yellow or tan hue.

Nicknames: Called pompon or Bearded Tooth Mushroom or scientifically called Hericium erinaceusm. 

Market: These mushrooms are found from late summer to early fall in North America, Europe, and Asia on dead or dying logs (sounds so yummy). 

Healthy: They were once known for its medicinal qualities before it was identified as a particularly interesting edible mushroom. The antioxidant content is exceptionally high, and It is currently studied for its possible ability to regenerate nerve tissue. 

Unique Flavour: The flavor and texture are compared to crab or lobster.

11. Shiitake Mushrooms (Costs Between $12 – $24 Per Pound)

Commonly featured in Ramen dishes, these mushrooms are available worldwide despite once being a staple of Asian cooking. Not only has their popularity has now spread to Western countries thanks to its funny name but their spread has resulted in different varieties of Shiitake, and each has a slightly different texture and taste.

Features: These high-priced mushrooms are tan or brown, with caps that are typically from two to four inches in size. These fungi are sometimes considered a medicinal mushroom, and it is used both fresh and dried in traditional Japanese and Chinese cuisine, and throughout East Asia. 

Flavour: Shiitake Mushrooms have a meaty, chewy texture and a pleasing taste that goes well with other ingredients and is available fresh or dried in many parts of the world.

Very healthy: It’s one of the most expensive mushrooms thanks to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties. 

12. Oyster Mushrooms (Costs Between $5 – $15 Per Pound) 

Typically large, pale grey or pearl white, Oyster Mushrooms are decently priced fungi! 

Nickname: Also called Abalone Mushrooms. 

Features: They have fluted gills on the underside and a firm fairly short stem with an oddly alien look. Also available in a variety of colors like blue, pink, elm, and gold. 

Oyster Mushrooms have a meaty texture and interesting flavor. 

Markets: Traditional in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cooking, they are native to forest habitats in Siberian Asia, Northern Europe, and in much of the United States especially at Farmer’s Markets throughout the nation. Easy to cultivate, they are one of the best mushroom varieties for novices, and kits for home sprouting are available in large cities or through custom mail-order companies.

How To Eat: They are used in recipes by innovative chefs, particularly when used almost immediately after harvesting, but they will last several days, and they are easily dried. 

13. Kalahari Truffles (Costs $4 Per Pound) 

Last on the most expensive mushrooms list are these mushrooms that grow in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. They grow very well  in the sandy landscape and are easily discovered just by looking for cracks in the sand.

Nickname: Locally called African potatoes.

Price: Only about $4 for a pound as they are literally the cheapest way to afford truffles. 

Features: These truffles are lighter brown and have a milder scent and taste than either black or white truffles. Kalahari Truffles can be consumed raw, boiled with spices as a side dish, or used in creative ways to flavor meats and vegetables. Kalahari Truffle butter is full of the unique flavor of mushroom and there is one restaurant in the country’s capital city that features Kalahari Truffle mushroom in ice cream!

Hunting: When it comes to Kalahari, there’s no need for pigs or dogs; just a stick to pry them out of the ground in the vicinity of Camelthorn trees.  During the season, they are widely available at roadside stands and open markets as well as on restaurant menus. 

10 Interesting Facts About Mushrooms:

  1. The most expensive mushrooms cost so because they are rare and hard to cultivate: 

This is because they are sensitive and not easy to mass-produce, therefore driving prices up for consumers. Rare and expensive mushrooms are extremely distinctive.

  1. They are highly nutritious and delicious:

Tens of thousands of varieties of mushrooms have been identified. But fewer edible mushrooms exist, still, they are a “superfood, and modern science is quick to point out their nutritious benefits. Mushrooms consist of minerals, antioxidants, and healthy vitamins, some contain lots of potassium, iron, manganese, Vitamin D, B2, and B6. 

Mushrooms are so low in calories and fat but contain high amounts of fiber and protein. In a sense, mushrooms are the ultimate organic foods, in the scientific sense of “living organisms” that interact in the environment with other organisms. 

  1. Mushrooms are very much a part of delicacy or designer cuisine: 

The most expensive mushrooms are also a growing business investment for artisanal farmers and opportunistic entrepreneurs around the world. Mushrooms flourish in wild habitats across the globe and can be cultivated by individuals or farmers in urban warehouses, isolated basements, caves, and under trees on a forested acreage. The demand for “designer” mushrooms is, well, mushrooming! And some of them fetch very high prices.

  1. Mushrooms are actually the “fruit” of fungi:

This fruit needs certain specific conditions that help them thrive through a fast-growing and adaptable environment. Light and moisture, temperature, oxygen and nitrogen levels, and other physical conditions must be just right for fungi to do their work. Fungi exist in diverse forms and can live in water, soil, air, or on plant material. What we call mushrooms are just one step in the fungal life cycle. 

Certain species of mushrooms play an essential role in the natural world because fungi and bacteria recycle the nutrients of dead or decaying matter. They “feed” on wood and leaves, and occasionally on insects, speeding the process of decomposition.

In addition to their vital role in the environment, they “behave” differently based on where they exist.

  1. Did you know mushrooms are considered “meat-ish”?

Although most people consider mushrooms part of the plant world, scientists believe fungi are actually closely related to animals – sorry vegetarians! 

  1. Medicinal qualities:

There is validity to the claim that mushrooms have medicinal value, including alleviating chronic pain and lowering cholesterol. Controlled tests do confirm that some mushrooms can lower certain symptoms and that they may have an impact on the treatment and/or prevention of some diseases.

  1. Mushroom allergies:

These allergies are relatively rare, but anyone who is sensitive to mold is advised to approach mushrooms with caution. 

Symptoms can arise not only from ingestion but also from simple skin contact. Some get sick through inhaling airborne spores of the fungus. 

Wild mushrooms have other hazards that are highly toxic to humans and some even contain a substance that produces hallucinogenic or psychotropic effects. Therefore, picking up mushrooms in the wild is not recommended for anyone who is not thoroughly trained.

  1. Mushrooms flavours vary: 

Mushrooms are prepared in a wide variety of ways to add flavor or even enhance the taste of other foods. 

Some have a pungent odor; others taste nutty, fruity, woody, or spicy. 

  1. How to choose the best mushroom:

Mushrooms can be consumed as sauteed, fried, raw, steamed, baked, stuffed, or grilled and come in canned, frozen forms and even preserved in oil.

For those looking for gravy and sauces, as well as in stir-fry dishes and casseroles go for the ubiquitous white button mushroom, still known as the “Champignon. 

Even though they go by different names, the three most common varieties are all the same. The only difference between the well-known White Button and Cremini Mushrooms is the age gap between these mushrooms. The little white ones are babies that turn a darker tan or light brown as they age and grow larger. Both have a firm texture, and the older Cremini have a hearty, meaty flavor.

  1. Historically, mushrooms have been around as early as 400 B.C: 

They have been used in numerous ways by diverse cultures throughout history. 

Hippocrates once wrote of their medicinal value. 

After this, they were noticed in outdoor environments by chance, but not mentioned as cultivated until 1652. 

Scary and poisonous, mushrooms weren’t eaten – they were used as compresses and in various natural medicines throughout the world. 

The first mushroom market was introduced in Paris restaurants in the mid-1600s, but it was not until later that actual mushroom cultivation started. Starting properly from the early 20th century, Dutch growers developed highly effective methods of cultivation and the shrooms market took off both in Europe and in the United States.

It wasn’t until 1894 that the first mushroom growing structure (like factories) was designed and built in Chester County, Pennsylvania-now known as the world’s mushroom capital.

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