Maitake (Pron. “my-tah-key”) is indigenous to northern part of Japan. The basket-ball sized mushroom, weighing sometimes over 50 pounds, grows on the foot of old Japanese oak trees. For hundreds of years, this rare and tasty mushroom has been prized in traditional Japanese herbology. Maitake literally means “Dancing Mushroom”. People who found the mushroom in deep mountain valleys started dancing with joy since they knew its delicious taste and the health benefits.
Posts Tagged ‘Hen of the woods’
IF YOU FIND THIS ARTICLE HELPFUL SHARE AND HELP OTHERS! Share0 Share 0 Tweet0 Pin0 Maitake Mushroom Grifola Frondosa The word maitake is literally translated from Japanese as “dancing mushroom.” According to herbal folklore, it was so named because in ancient times people who found maitake could exchange it for its weight in silver, leading […]
People started to consume mushrooms as food and medicine more than 2,000 years ago. Besides being a potent anti-inflammatory food, we know that many of the fungi we use today contained active compounds that have anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive, blood sugar-lowering, and other potentially valuable therapeutic properties.
In the northeastern woods of Japan and the United States grows a ruffly-looking, exotic fungus with exciting possibilities, both culinary and nutritional. Called maitake or hen of the woods mushrooms, their woodsy aroma, meaty texture, and rich flavor have long given them special status in Japanese cuisine. Now, research is showing that maitake have potential that goes far beyond the kitchen.
Mushrooms have been valued throughout the world as both food and medicine for thousands of years. In virtually every culture people enjoy hunting for wild mushrooms. Europeans have always appreciated their gastronomic value. In Japan, pushcart vendors on the streets still sell medicinal mushrooms to the average citizen who uses them to maintain health and promote longevity.
Common dietary advice almost always includes some variation of the phrase, “Eat more fruits and vegetables for good health.” Pick up most diet books, talk to the health professionals, and look at the research: fruits and vegetables are nutritional superstars.
Less often do we hear the phrase, “Eat more mushrooms for good health,” and if we look at the research, one may wonder why we neglect to include our fungal friends in the dietary limelight.
In Europe and the United States, this mushroom (Grifola frondosa) is commonly called “hen of the woods,” since its frond-like growths resemble the feathers of a fluffed chicken. Maitake is the name I prefer, in a bow to the Japanese who pioneered its cultivation. Maitake mushrooms are known in Japan as “the dancing mushroom.” According to a Japanese legend, a group of Buddhist nuns and woodcutters met on a mountain trail, where they discovered a fruiting of maitake mushrooms emerging from the forest floor. Rejoicing at their discovery of this delicious mushroom, they danced to celebrate. In Italy, this species is known as signorina, or “the unmarried woman.” Today these two common names, bestowed long ago on the opposite sides of the planet, seem especially deserving and perhaps foretelling recent research findings.
Maitake is a mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. Like other medicinal mushrooms, maitake contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan. In laboratory and human studies, maitake extract was able to stimulate various cells and factors in the immune system. Studies in animals show that it slows the growth of certain tumors and lowers blood sugar levels. More studies are being conducted to determine if maitake has the same effects in humans.