Lion’s mane mushrooms are some of the most easily recognizable mushrooms out there on the market (if you can find them). True to their name, lion’s mane mushrooms look exactly like that, a mane of a lion. They also come in different names like bearded tooth mushroom, hedgehog mushroom, and pom-pom mushroom. While lion’s mane mushrooms are prized by gourmets all over for their seafood-like taste and texture (think of a cross between the taste of lobsters and the texture of diver scallops) they’re also known for their medicinal effects. It has long been believed that lion’s mane mushrooms have nerve regenerating properties which may help in treating many neurological conditions.
Lion's Mane Mushroom Trivia
- Unlike most mushrooms that grow near the roots of trees, the lion’s mane mushroom prefers high places, a common reason why novice mushroom hunters miss them.
- Lion’s mane mushrooms are considered the world’s first “smart mushroom” since it has shown some very promising results in improving cognitive function.
- Lion’s mane mushrooms make for really good vegan “crab cakes.”
- Due to its poor germination and establishment, the lion’s mane mushroom has been red-listed in many European countries, which means that it is just a few steps away from becoming extinct.
Lion's Mane Mushroom Buying Guide
If you’re lucky enough to find wild or cultured lion’s mane mushrooms in your local supermarket or farmers’ market then you’re lucky. They’re quite rare and mushroom hunters that look for wild lion’s mane mushrooms usually keep their finds for themselves. On top of that, due to the many promising studies of the lion’s mane mushroom having many positive neurological benefits, a lot of the cultured lion’s mane mushrooms will go to making supplements.
The supplements come in many forms like powders, extracts, and teas. We’re not going to go over the different types of supplements because they’re not really our forte here at TRF, but if you’re looking to purchase raw lion’s mane mushroom for cooking then you’re in the right place.
Look for lion’s mane mushrooms in specialty gourmet stores and at your local farmers’ market. Another good resource is to ask your local mycological societies (mushroom clubs! But don’t call them that) for leads on local mushroom growers. We also have a directory here on TRF with many local mushroom producers so you can give those listings a try as well. Some of them may not list lion’s mane mushrooms as part of their product lineup, but you never know, they might have some growing at the back of their grow houses, it never hurts to ask.
Remember, if you find lion’s mane mushrooms for sale, make sure that the color is still clean white. Don’t purchase if there’s a brownish wet-dog color or texture to the mushroom as these are already bad, or at the very least on the way to being bad.
Lion's Mane Mushroom Production & Farming in Texas
Wild lion’s mane mushrooms are quite rare in Texas but they can still be found by dedicated mushroom hunters and sold in farmers’ markets. That is if you’re lucky enough to have one in your area. Wild lion’s mane mushroom is usually found in the cooler months of late autumn, winter, and early spring so if it’s that time of the year, be sure to keep an eye out. Cultured lion’s mane mushrooms, on the other hand, are available all year round from mushroom growers.
There are several small family-run mushroom growing businesses in Texas and not all of them produce lion’s mane mushrooms for culinary purposes. Check our listings if you’re interested in asking your local mushroom producers if they carry lion’s mane mushrooms.
Another good option for sourcing lion’s mane mushrooms in Texas is to purchase mushroom growing kits from your local producers. It’s pretty simple, just follow the instructions on the box (or bag) and you should have your own home-grown lion’s mane mushrooms in a couple of weeks.
If you have a couple of hardwood stumps on your property, those will also make for great lion’s mane mushroom growing mediums if inoculated properly. To do this, seek help from your local mycological societies or agriculture extensions.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are usually displayed on boxes so that buyers can pick and choose the ones they want and are only bagged once the sale is made. In specialty gourmet stores, lion’s mane mushrooms are also packed on plastic trays and covered with cling film to preserve freshness.
Eating Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Never consume lion’s mane mushrooms raw. Another thing to take note of when preparing lion’s mane mushrooms is to gently wipe them down with a damp paper towel before cooking them. Do not wash them as they are very absorbent and you might end up with soggy mushrooms.
Our favorite ways of preparing lion’s mane mushrooms is either to pan-fry them as “crab cakes” or to roast them in the oven for a few minutes. They do not work well in stews as stewing them will destroy the tender seafood-like texture of the mushrooms.
Lion’s mane mushrooms can be stored in the fridge, preferably at the vegetable crisper area, for up to a week before they start browning up and spoiling.
Make your own Lion’s Mane “Crab” cakes:
This is probably one of the most common recipes for lion’s mane mushrooms out there and for good reason. Not only can the mushrooms mimic the texture and the taste of crab cakes, but they’re infinitely better for you as well.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, ½ pound diced
Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons
Mayonnaise or Greek Yogurt, 2 tablespoons
Bread crumbs, 1 cup
Egg, 1 piece
Fresh Chopped Parsley, 2-3 tablespoons
Juice of ¼ lime
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the lion’s mane mushrooms in olive oil and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Turn around halfway through to get even browning.
Take out of the oven and give the mushrooms a good pulse or three in a food processor or until you have manageable chunks.
In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and season to taste. Form patties and set aside.
In a shallow pan, heat some oil and pan-fry the patties until golden on each side. Drain on paper towels.
Serve and Enjoy!
When Are Lions Mane Mushroom in Season in Texas?
One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.