Lion’s mane is a rock-star in the mushroom foraging realm. It’s easy to spot, easy to cook, there are no poisonous look-a-likes to worry about, and has incredible nutritious and medicinal qualities! What more could you ask for?
Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is also known as bearded tooth, satyr’s beard, bearded hedgehog, pom pom, bearded tooth and yamabushitake. There are other species in the Hericium genus, but they are all tasty and edible, so distinguishing which one you have isn’t of great importance.
It grows on fallen hardwoods, particularly the American Beech tree.
Lion’s mane has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, and recent studies (although limited) have found such good results with it that you can actually buy extracts in pill form.
It is reported to have antioxidant properties, regulate blood lipid levels, and reduce blood glucose levels. It was also reported to decrease stress, and increase mood!
The biggest and most significant medicinal property, however, is it’s ability to stimulate nerve regeneration! Studies have shown members who regularly took lion’s mane could reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia, but only with continued use. When they stopped taking the lion’s mane supplement, their cognitive scores diminished again.
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Lion’s mane is roughly 20% protein, making it a great meat-substitute for vegetarians. It has a mild shellfish flavor and is likened to shrimp or lobster. Lobster, free from the forest with health benefits to boot! Seriously, who could ask for more!?
It tends to soak up liquid like a sponge, so avoid washing to remove the debris. Simply rub with a wet cloth or cut away any particularly dirty spots. There are two good ways to cook this: fast and slow.
Fast Cook Method
Simply slice mushroom into one inch thick steaks, and saute in oil or a combination of oil and butter, 5 minute per side, or until the edges start to become crispy. Salt and pepper to taste.
Slow Cook Method
If you have the time and the butter, slow poach the mushrooms in butter. Slice into one inch thick steaks, again, but melt enough butter to come half way up the steaks. Cover and cook on low for half an hour.