Varieties 101: Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Varieties 101: Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

This species is a favorite of ours here at Everything Mushrooms. It has just about everything one could ask for in a gourmet mushroom: it is visually striking, delicious, healthy, is easy to grow on a variety of substrates, and is very fast to produce! A winner!

In the wild this species is often found growing from dead spots on living trees, and can indeed be partially parasitic. It is for this reason that when plugging logs with our Lion’s Mane Plug Spawn, one should use the freshest logs available to ensure the best output. Fresh cut living logs are ideal, though whatever you use should be no older than one season.

In cultivation, Lion’s Mane fruits prolifically from five pound bags of sterilized sawdust supplemented up to 20% with bran. One can purchase a 5 lb bag of sawdust spawn used to inoculate either sterilized sawdust bags, or pasteurised straw, here.  For a simpler method utilising hardwood fuel pellets without a steriliser, see here.

When cooked in butter, Lion’s Mane takes on a flavor and texture somewhat akin to lobster. They are also great dried, ground and added to all sorts of recipes, from soups and stews to breads and savory pastries. For recipes and cooking tips, see here.

What Lion’s Mane is probably most known for are its medicinal properties. It is rare that something can be both edible and safe to eat in quantity, while at the same time possessing well-studied medicinal action. In this case the compounds in question are Erinacines, which are complex kappa-opioid receptor agonists that have been shown to be potent neuro-protectors with the potential to treat everything from memory recall in alzheimer’s patients, to neuropathic pain, to addiction and depression. The safety profile of these compounds is incredible, even at high doses, and there are no known negative side-effects.

Hericium is a truly unique and wonderful mushroom that is as much a conversation piece as it is a culinary delight and nutritional powerhouse. You will love it!

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