13 Rarest and Most Expensive Mushrooms

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Mushrooms are not just culinary delights; some varieties are incredibly rare and command astronomical prices. These prized fungi have captivated gourmet chefs and food enthusiasts worldwide. Below is a list of the rarest and most expensive mushrooms, each with its unique characteristics, origins, and values.

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

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Shiitake mushrooms hail from East Asia. They grow on decaying hardwood trees. Wild shiitake mushrooms, rarer and more flavorful than cultivated ones, are highly valued. They are known for their meaty texture and rich, umami flavor, making them popular in many Asian dishes. The price for wild shiitake mushrooms can go up to $50 per pound. They are not only delicious but also offer numerous health benefits. Shiitake mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides, which boost the immune system.

Candy Cap (Lactarius rubidus)

Candy Cap
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Candy Cap mushrooms are found in North America, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. They are small and reddish-brown with a distinctive sweet aroma, reminiscent of maple syrup. Candy Cap mushrooms are often used in desserts and confections. These mushrooms can fetch up to $50 per pound. Their sweet scent intensifies when dried, making them a unique ingredient in sweet dishes.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion’s Mane
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Lion’s Mane mushrooms are recognizable by their white, pom-pom-like appearance. They grow on hardwood trees in North America, Europe, and Asia and have been used in traditional medicine. With prices reaching up to $100 per pound, Lion’s Mane is not just a culinary delight but also revered for its potential neurological benefits. It is believed to enhance brain function and is often used in supplements.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

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Reishi mushrooms grow on decaying hardwood trees, primarily in Asia. They are renowned for their medicinal properties. Reishi mushrooms have a tough, woody texture and a bitter taste, making them more suitable for teas and supplements than culinary use. Reishi mushrooms can cost up to $100 per pound. They are valued for their health benefits, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine. Reishi mushrooms are believed to boost the immune system and improve overall health.

Enoki (Flammulina velutipes)

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Enoki mushrooms are native to East Asia. They have long, thin stems and small caps. Wild enoki mushrooms, found on the stumps of the Chinese hackberry tree, differ in flavor and texture from commercially grown varieties. They are commonly used in soups, salads, and stir-fries. Wild enoki can sell for up to $150 per pound. They have a mild, slightly fruity taste and a crisp texture. Enoki mushrooms are also prized for their nutritional benefits, being rich in antioxidants and vitamins.

Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita caesarea)

Caesar’s Mushroom
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Caesar’s mushrooms are native to Southern Europe. They are known for their striking orange-red caps and yellow gills. These mushrooms were highly prized by Roman emperors, hence their name. They are typically found in oak and chestnut forests. Caesar’s mushrooms can sell for up to $150 per pound. They have a delicate flavor and a smooth texture, often enjoyed raw in salads or lightly cooked.

Porcini (Boletus edulis)

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Porcini mushrooms are found in Europe and North America. They grow in forests, often near pine, chestnut, and spruce trees. These mushrooms have a distinctive nutty flavor and a firm texture. They are a staple in Italian and French cuisine, often used in risottos and pasta dishes. Porcini mushrooms can fetch up to $200 per pound. Their price reflects their seasonal availability and the difficulty of foraging them. Porcini mushrooms are also dried to preserve their flavor, making them a versatile ingredient.

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)

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Chaga is a medicinal mushroom that grows on birch trees in cold climates such as Siberia, Canada, and Northern Europe. It appears as a dark, crusty growth on the tree’s bark. Chaga can be priced up to $400 per pound. It is celebrated for its health benefits, particularly its immune-boosting properties and high antioxidant content. Chaga is typically consumed as a tea or extract.

Morel (Morchella spp.)

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Morels are known for their honeycomb-like appearance and nutty flavor. They are typically found in North America and Europe, thriving in well-drained soils during spring. Morels can fetch up to $500 per pound. They are highly sought after by chefs and foragers alike, as their unique texture and taste make them a versatile ingredient in many gourmet recipes.

Matsutake (Tricholoma matsutake)

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Matsutake mushrooms are highly esteemed in Japan, where they symbolize autumn. These mushrooms grow under red pine trees and are known for their spicy-aromatic scent and firm texture. Priced up to $1,000 per pound, Matsutake mushrooms are celebrated for their unique flavor and are often featured in traditional Japanese dishes. Their rarity and the difficulty of finding them in the wild contribute significantly to their high market value.

Black Truffle (Tuber melanosporum)

Black Truffle
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Black truffles originate from France, Italy, and Spain. They thrive in symbiosis with oak and hazelnut trees. These truffles grow underground and are found using trained dogs or pigs. Black truffles are famous for their intense aroma and earthy flavor, making them a favorite among gourmet chefs. These truffles enhance dishes like pasta, risotto, and even scrambled eggs. Their price can reach up to $1,200 per pound. They are often called “black diamonds” because of their value.

White Truffle (Tuber magnatum)

White Truffle
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White truffles are the pinnacle of gourmet fungi. Found primarily in the forests of Italy and Croatia, these truffles grow underground near the roots of specific trees, like oaks and hazelnuts. They emit a powerful, earthy aroma that is unmistakable. White truffles can sell for up to $4,000 per pound, making them a luxury item in fine dining. They are typically shaved thinly over dishes to add an intense, umami-rich flavor, elevating the culinary experience to new heights.

Yartsa Gunbu (Ophiocordyceps sinensis)

Yartsa Gunbu
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Yartsa Gunbu, also known as “Himalayan Viagra,” is a parasitic fungus that grows on the larvae of ghost moths. Found in the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas, it has been used in traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine for centuries.
Value and Other Information: This mushroom is fetching up to $50,000 per pound. It is renowned for its purported health benefits, including boosting energy and enhancing sexual function, making it one of the most expensive fungi in the world.

This article originally appeared on Rarest.org.

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