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What is a Straw Mushroom?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 June 2014
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The Paddy Straw Mushroom, known simply as a Straw Mushroom and more formally as Volvariella volvacea, is a type of mushroom found widely distributed throughout Asia. The thumb sized mushrooms are heavily cultivated for food and export in Asia, and can be found in canned and dried forms in other parts of the world. Straw Mushrooms are often used in stir fries, and add a distinctive slightly musty flavor to food.

The mushroom takes its name from paddy straw, the straw left over after growing rice, which happens to be the mushroom's favorite habitat. In addition to its traditional growth medium, the Straw Mushroom can also be found growing on many types of vegetable material such as other straws or grasses, compost, and wood piles. Usually the Straw Mushroom is cultivated for consumption on a mixture of cotton fiber and paddy straw. When mature for eating, a Straw Mushroom is approximately thumb sized, and distinguished by its pale pink gills and white spore print. The mushrooms have long white stems with bulbous bases, and drooping yellow to brown caps with a partial veil.

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The Straw Mushroom has not been identified in the wild in North America, although it has been observed in most of Asia and parts of Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, many Asian immigrants mistake the delicious Straw Mushroom with members of the amanita genus, which can be deadly. Amanitas have many superficial resemblances which can confuse amateur mushroom hunters: it is better to avoid veiled mushrooms with bulbed bases or volvas unless you are very experienced with mushrooms.

In Asia, the Straw Mushroom is readily available in fresh, dried, and canned form at most markets. Because they take well to indoor cultivation, fresh specimens are available year-round. In other parts of the world, exported dried and canned Straw Mushrooms can be found at Asian specialty stores and some large markets. Dried Straw Mushrooms can be rehydrated with boiling water, while canned ones should be drained and rinsed before use.

The Straw Mushroom has a delicate, musty, slightly earthy flavor which is quite appealing to some consumers. It takes well to inclusion in stir fries, soups, and stuffings, and retains both shape and flavor through cooking. It figures most prominently in Asian cuisine, and many Westerners are familiar with the shape and taste thanks to a proliferation of Asian-themed restaurants around the world. It can also be included in cuisine from other nations for an unusual injection of flavor and texture.

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anon123619
Post 4

i am doing my undergrad thesis and my subject is the paddy straw mushroom. i am planning to use the press mud, a byproduct of sugar processing. i wonder if it could be possible because several journals had cited sugar bagasse as one of an efficient substrate and how long could it possibly be?

EarlyForest
Post 3

@tunaline -- I've been growing shiitake mushrooms for a few years now, and I got started off of a kit that I got at a gardening store. I really don't know about straw mushrooms, but I would say that your local gardening store should be able to help you out.

Best of luck.

TunaLine
Post 2

How do you grow organic straw mushrooms? Do I need to buy some straw mushroom spores, or what? I've never grown mushrooms before, so I'll take all the advice I can get.

rallenwriter
Post 1

I love straw mushrooms! I really got to like them when I was living in Hong Kong, those and shiitake mushrooms, because we would always use them in hot pot, along with other recipes.

My host family was actually big into mushroom growing, so they had a little patch of straw mushrooms and one of those shiitake mushroom logs in their house.

Although it took me a little while to get used to the fact of mushroom spawn in the house, it was totally worth it to get the end products!

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