Honey mushrooms are found all over the world, but they are most commonly seen in temperate climates. They grow from stems up to 2 feet long and 1/2 inch wide. Their color ranges from light tan or pale yellowish brown to dark purple or black with white spots. Some have small dots on their cap surface while others do not.
The flesh of these mushrooms contain no discernible taste. However, some species produce a sweet odor when crushed.
There are many different types of honey fungi and each one has its own unique appearance and flavor. These include:
1) Ringless Honey Mushroom (Galerina tabescens): This type of honey fungus looks like a round ball with a thin rim around it.
Its shape is similar to a miniature version of a jelly bean.
Ringless honey mushrooms are usually found growing along streams, rivers, lakes and ponds. They prefer moist soil and prefer shady locations where they can hide out from predators such as birds, frogs and insects.
They reproduce through spores which release tiny spores into the air during rainstorms or other moisture sources such as dew or sweat. These types of mushrooms have no rings. They are either tan to whitish in color and may or may not have spots on the top.
This type of honey fungus is a favorite of many mushroom collectors who enjoy the unique flavor that is released when it is cooked.
2) Bluing Honey Fungus (Auricularia Cyanea): This type of honey fungus looks somewhat like a brain or netting in color.
It usually contains small “ears” or lobes and bluish green in color.
The bluing honey mushroom is also called the “vegetable brain” because it somewhat resembles one. These types of mushrooms contain a blue pigment that can be extracted and mixed with water or alcohol to create a colorless solution.
The flavor of this type of honey fungus is bitter to taste and benefits people who have high blood pressure when consumed on a regular basis.
These are the most popular type of honey fungus in China and often found at Asian markets there as well as markets that sell products for natural health remedies.
3) Yellow Morel (Morchella Esculenta): This type of honey mushroom is also known as the “true morel.
” It is usually yellow or yellowish brown during the early stage of development and has a honeycomb appearance.
The cap of the morel contains pits and ridges and the stem is thinner than most types of honey mush rooms. These types of mushrooms are usually found in hardwood forests and sometimes near trees that have recently been damaged by extreme weather such as heavy winds.
These types of mushrooms have a unique nutty flavor and considered by some to be a true gourmet delight.
These types of honey mushrooms are usually hard to find and are mostly available at specialty grocers or grown in farms.
Health Benefits of Honey Mushrooms:
1) Rich in Antioxidants:
The honey mushroom contains antioxidants, which helps protect the cells from damage. This may help prevent certain types of cancers and lower the risk of heart disease.
2) High in Selenium:
This vegetable is high in selenium, which is a trace mineral that plays an important role in eye health, immune function and DNA synthesis. Just three mushrooms provide more than 100% of the daily recommended value of this nutrient.
3) Low in Fat and Cholesterol:
One of the benefits of honey mushrooms is that they are low in fat and cholesterol. They can be included in a healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and even prescribed by doctors for patients that need to lower their cholesterol levels.
4) Good Source of Dietary Fiber:
Just one mushroom provides nearly 10% of the daily recommended value of fiber, which helps keep you feel full and helps lower cholesterol levels.
5) Vitamin B Complex:
The B vitamins play a critical role in converting food into energy and are needed for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. This vegetable is a great source of eight of the nine B vitamins.
6) Rich in Protein:
This vegetable is a good source of protein. A 3-ounce (85 grams) serving provides nearly 6 grams of protein. Just be sure to remember to remove the tough stems before cooking or eating.
This type of mushroom is a good source of several essential minerals, including potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper.
Interesting Facts About Honey Mushrooms:
The honey mushroom contains small amounts of toxic substances that may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Always try a small amount first before eating a large portion and do not feed these to young children, the elderly or the infirm.
The honey mushroom releases its spores from little slits that are found on the underside of the cap.
3) Growing Time:
The honey mushroom grows very quickly, which is why it’s called a “fast grower.” It can grow up to 4 inches (10 cm) in a single day.
4) Edible Method of Cooking:
Honey mushrooms should always be cooked before eating and are commonly used in soups, stews, casseroles and pasta dishes. It can be fried, sauteed or even roasted over an open fire. They can also be dried and then ground into a powder to add flavor and nutrients to other foods.
5) Edible Method of Preservation:
There is no simple way to preserve honey mushrooms for long-term storage. They do not dry well and there are no known cultures that can be used to ferment them into alcohol. Honey mushrooms can be dried, frozen or pickled.
6) Edible Flowers:
The flowers of this plant are also edible and can be eaten raw, cooked or dried and consumed as a tea. They can also be used to make herbal medicines.
7) Not Edible:
The honey mushroom should not be confused with another edible Agaricus species known as the “death cap” (Agaricus phalloides).
Sources & references used in this article:
Mercury in fruiting bodies of dark honey fungus (Armillaria solidipes) and beneath substratum soils collected from spatially distant areas by J Falandysz, A Mazur, AK Kojta… – Journal of the …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library
Diagnosis and control of Armillaria honey fungus root rot of trees by RTV FOX – Professional horticulture, 1990 – JSTOR
Organization of the honey bee mushroom body: representation of the calyx within the vertical and gamma lobes by NJ Strausfeld – Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2002 – Wiley Online Library
The Armillaria species in Europe: a literature review by F Roll‐Hansen – European journal of forest pathology, 1985 – Wiley Online Library
Larval and pupal development of the mushroom bodies in the honey bee, Apis mellifera by SM Farris, GE Robinson, RL Davis… – Journal of …, 1999 – Wiley Online Library