March 20, 2012
Shiitakes (Lentinula edodes) are mushrooms that have been cultivated culinarily or medicinally for over a thousand years in China, Korea, and Japan.
The Japanese cultivated shiitakes by cutting logs and placing them around trees with actively growing mushrooms. Unbeknownst at the time, they were inoculating newly exposed surfaces with shiitake spores. These days shiitakes are directly inoculated using spawn plugs, spores in chainsaw oil, or nearby active mycelium in sawdust spawn.
Inoculation seems to be most effective in mid fall for this wood-digesting fungus.
Shiitakes have a savory taste when sauteed fresh. They can also be reconstituted after drying and will carry the taste of their hydrating fluid. This notion applies to raw mushrooms too, though there are some subtleties when cooking fresh shiitakes.
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