The time of mushrooms

We’re definitely into the storms of autumn now; the devil has spat on the blackberries, and it’s not a time for gathering anything except fungi, until the top growth has finally died down and roots and tubers are at their best. But it is a time for giving yourself a boost before winter.
Fungi have always been valued in China and Japan for their tonic properties, and it tends to be the oriental varieties that are most used, both in food and in medicine. Shiitake, Reishi, Maitake and Cordyceps are probably the best known, but the truth is that all edible mushrooms are good for more than just food. Their long-chain polysaccharides are soothing to an irritated gut, and they give up their sugars slowly, making them useful in the management of diabetes. And the anti-inflammatory action that works on your digestion has wider and deeper effects. Other conditions involving inflammation, including auto-immune diseases and some cancers, are being shown to respond well to medicinal fungi.
So don’t be afraid to try them. Just be sure to identify them correctly first; most edible mushrooms are easy to spot, but you can make mistakes, and some mistakes are serious. And occasionally, you can get a tummy upset after eating wild mushrooms; not because they are poisonous, but simply because they are unfamiliar.

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