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April 07, 2022 4 min read
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are known as one of the most delicious functional or superfood mushrooms. Because they grow in North America, they are also one of the easier varieties to get your hands on! Most typically found at farmer’s markets or in higher-end grocery stores, Lion’s Mane mushrooms can open you up to a whole new gourmet experience – if prepared correctly. Read on to learn the best way to prepare and consume Lion’s Mane mushrooms. We have an answer to the question: Can you eat Lion’s Mane mushrooms raw?
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are visually specific and hard to mistake! They’re called Lion’s Mane because of their shaggy appearance. The exterior of the mushroom has “teeth” which can grow to over an inch in length, meaning that Lion’s Mane can resemble a fuzzy snowball or even have a more icicle-like appearance. Lion’s Mane mushrooms are usually white in color, though they can get darker as they age. When cut into, they almost resemble cauliflower.
Aside from a unique appearance, Lion’s Mane mushrooms also have a unique smell. While they will still smell earthy like other mushrooms, the Lion’s Mane smell is much milder and has a seafood undertone. This aroma is also evident in the flavor. Lion’s Mane is a meaty mushroom, and many have compared the taste to crab or lobster.
Lion’s Mane grows on hardwood trees in North America, China, Japan, and Europe. They are most often found on dead or dying trees because these innocuous-looking ‘shrooms kill the trees to sustain themselves. Birch, maple, and oak trees are the most common varieties of trees to play host to Lion’s Mane mushrooms, so if you live in an area with these species, you may be able to forage Lion’s Mane mushrooms yourself!
If you’re not up to forage, you should be on the lookout for Lion’s Mane mushrooms for sale at farmer’s markets in the cooler months of fall, which is their fruiting season. Gourmet grocery stores may be able to import them year-round, so check out your fancy neighborhood grocery store if you’re on the hunt in other seasons.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms pose no serious health risks when consumed raw, but most would agree that Lion’s Mane is better consumed when cooked for a variety of reasons. Firstly, Lion’s Mane mushrooms taste better cooked! They can have a slightly bitter flavor when consumed raw, but when cooked can absolutely act as a fabulous stand-in for meat or seafood as a main dish. Fool your friends with this recipe for “crab cakes”, courtesy of Mindful Glutton, or play up their meaty texture with this light entrée of Lion’s Mane mushrooms with sherried shallots from my recipes. We have also compiled a shortlist of some of our tried and true favorite dishes using Lion’s Mane here.
Secondly, the cell walls of all mushrooms including Lion’s Mane, contain chitin which is an insoluble fiber that makes them difficult to digest. However, when cooked, the chitin is broken down and allows for the release of all the amazing nutrients hiding inside that cell wall.
Lastly, mushrooms are dirty! Think of how many hands have touched them before they get to you. Even if you wash them, they can be difficult to get fully clean, and when you consider that their exterior is fuzzy, you can imagine how difficult it is to get into all the cracks and crevices. Cooking your Lion’s Mane mushroom will help eliminate those unwanted germs.
Long story short, can you eat Lion’s Mane mushrooms raw? Yes, but if you want to ensure you’re getting all of the nutritional benefits you need with nothing you don’t want, we recommend using dried or powdered Lion’s Mane.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain compounds to support cognitive health. Known as a nootropic, Lion’s Mane may help bring focus and mental clarity to a fatigued mind and can support other healthy brain functions, including concentration, recall, creativity, and productivity.* Lion’s Mane mushrooms may also support the nervous system and digestive system.* For a full list of all of the possible health benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms, click here.
We get it. Cooking Lion’s Mane can feel like a bit of a pain, especially because the full health benefits are typically experienced after a few weeks of regular consumption. That’s an awful lot of Lion’s Mane mushrooms, no matter how delicious they are!
If you would rather find a more effective way to get your daily ‘shrooms, we recommend a Lion’s Mane mushroom powder. Mushroom powders are convenient to use because they can be added into almost anything – from the food you are already making to give it an extra depth of flavor, to a mug of warm water or oat milk for a soothing, satisfying drink.
As a bonus, many mushroom powders include ingredients to amplify the benefits of the Lion’s Mane mushroom. For example, Rritual’s Lion’s Mane Focus Elixir features Rhodiola root, which is an herb that is trusted by herbalists today for its ability to maintain peak cognitive performance and support the body’s recovery from stress.* It also includes Bacopa, an Ayurvedic herb consumed for centuries to help support the presence of mind and cognitive longevity.*
When looking for the best mushroom powder for you, be sure to look for certified organic and non-GMO ingredients, with no added sugar, sweetener, artificial flavors, or preservatives of any kind. Read more about lion’s mane mushroom powder here.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease.
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