Auricularia auricula-judae: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Auricularia auricula-judae Mushroom
Auricularia auricula-judae, is one of the jelly fungi. All of the jelly fungi are Basidiomycota with an unusual jelly-like texture.
When eaten by itself, it is not remarkably flavourful. Nevertheless, he is highly prized in Asia and is commonly used in soups as it takes on the taste of condiments very well.
Jew's Ear is a gelatinous cup fungus, ear-shaped, generally purplish grayish brown to dingy brown and 2-15cm broad. Covered by a medulla of fine hairs. The surface is smooth, wrinkled towards the center.
The common name Judas's ear comes from the legend that Auricularia formed its ear-shaped fruiting bodies as a curse on the tree on which Judas hanged himself. If you don't remember your New Testament (or care about it), Judas was the apostle who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Obviously, someone had an overactive imagination when seeing an ear on a tree and thinking of Judas. However, the intriguing name has stuck, even with the normally stuffy taxonomists. In fact "Auricularia" means ear and the epithet "auricula-judae" means "the ear of Judas."
Since the mushroom is particularly prevalent on menus in Oriental restaurants, more preferred names would be the "wood ear mushroom" or the "cloud ear mushroom," Some would consider other translations of the name perjorative, and hence I have not mentioned them here. Sometimes the scientific name is listed as Hirneola auricula. It seems likely that Auricularia polytricha, cultivated for use in Oriental dishes, is a very close relative or even the same species. However, it certainly can be much larger and tends to grow in subtropical to tropical areas. It is easily available in dried form in almost every oriental food store, in specialty food markets, and even in many large grocery stores.
Auricularia auricula-judae sometimes called the chinese morel, although it is not related to morels.
Cloud Ear Mushroom
Jelly Ear Mushroom
Auricularia auricula-judae Identification
Saprobic on decaying hardwood sticks, logs, and stumps; spring, summer, and fall; distribution in North America uncertain, since the species has previously been folded in with others as "auricula" or "auricula-judae." The illustrated and described collections are from Illinois.
Wavy and irregular; often more or less ear-shaped but sometimes oval, elliptical, fan-shaped, cup-shaped, or irregular in outline; 2–5 cm across; thin; usually gathered together and attached at a central or lateral position; upper, fertile surface brown to reddish-brown, bald, sometimes wrinkled in places; lower, sterile surface finely hairy when fresh and young, creating a whitish bloom over the brown to reddish-brown surface; flesh thin, gelatinous-rubbery; entire fruiting body becoming hard and black when dried out.
Auricularia Auricula-judae Health Benefits
Wood Ear mushrooms have been a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. This species of mushroom has a tough, gelatinous, elastic texture when fresh and the outer surface is a bright reddish-brown with a purplish hint, often covered in tiny, grey downy hairs and unsurprisingly it bears an uncanny resemblance to an ear!
Also extensively used in Asian cuisine, the Wood Ear Mushroom has a crisp texture and mild woody flavor making it a delicious addition to stir-fries, soups, and salads.
Antibacterial properties of Wood ear mushrooms
Active component diazane in Wood ear mushrooms possess antitumor properties
Wood ear mushrooms lower the cholesterol level
Radioprotective properties due to melanin pigments
Polysaccharide Herein of Wood ear mushrooms can be used as an oral drug delivery
Antiviral properties of Wood ear mushrooms due to sulfated polysaccharide
Auricularia Auricula-judae has also been used in herbal medicine. In Europe, the mushroom was used to treat throat and eye ailments.
Modern medicine has found that the mushroom can prevent blood clotting (there have even been some reports of internal bleeding in sensitive people after eating too much of this mushroom), prevent heart attacks, prevent strokes, and lower blood cholesterol.
Apparently, Auricularia Auricula-judae negatively impacts fertility, so people who are trying to conceive and women who are pregnant or lactating may want to avoid this mushroom.
Auricularia Auricula-judae Taxonomic
The Jelly Ear Fungus was described scientifically in 1789 by Jean Baptiste François (Pierre) Bulliard, who named it Tremella auricula-judae. After several changes of genus this fungus was transferred into its present genus in 1897 by Austrian botanist-mycologist Richard Wettstein (1863-1931).
Among the many synonyms that this ubiquitous woodland fungus has gathered are Tremella auricula L., Peziza auricula-judae (Bull.) Bolton, Tremella auricula-judae Bull., Exidia auricula-judae (Bull.) Fr., Hirneola auricula-judae (Bull.) Berk., Auricularia auricula-judae var. lactea Quel., Auricularia auricula (L.) Underw., and Hirneola auricula-judae var. lactea (Quel.) D.A. Reid.
Auricularia Auricula-judae Etymology
Auricula is a Latin word meaning ear. Judae means Judas, the Jew who it is said betrayed Jesus. Older field guides may list this species under the common name Jew's Ear fungus, a derogatory term that I will mention only once in case you see it either online or in an earlier printed publication and wonder which species it refers to. Other, older common names for this species include Wood Ear and Judas' Ear - the latter a reference to the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself on an Elder tree in shame after betraying Jesus Christ to his executioners. The legend, which dates back more than 400 years, suggests that the fulgal 'ears' that emerge from Elder wood are visible residues of Judas' tormented spirit.
Auricularia Auricula-judae Habitat and Cultivation
Judas's Ear mushrooms enjoy growing on the wood of old trees but can be found on younger deciduous species or even shrubs.
There is a false belief that it only grows on elder wood, because in the vast majority of cases it is found on them. Some of the most common trees it can grow on are beech, ash, spindle or Acer pseudoplatanus. However, it has been recently identified in India's Western Ghats in various types of forests: partially evergreen, evergreen and wet evergreen shola.
It grows in a chaotic way, it is sometimes found isolated or in dense clusters. Wood ear mushroom is usually attached to dead or almost dead branches, decayed logs or even the healthy main trunk. It thrives during the monsoon season of Asia when massive basidiomes can form in very wet conditions, with a very intricate structure.
The Auricularia Auricula-judae mushrooms found in wet evergreen and shola forests can have various shapes, colors and sizes. It is also a wild species in Australia, both in rainforests and eucalyptus forests. Huge colonies are common on dead logs in rainforests of the area. The species lives as a saprophyte or minor parasite that causes white rot, depending on the type of wood it grows on.
Auricularia Auricula-judae mushroom is typically found in groups or clusters but single mushrooms are not uncommon either. It is a very prolific species; hundreds of thousands of spores are released every hour from the underside, this massive output continues even when the fruiting bodies have dried up.
Spores are produced in a limited number even when the mushroom is basically dead, with 90% of it being dry. It is usually harvested during the autumn but actually grows all year-round.
Wood ear mushroom lives on all continents, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Australia, in both temperate and sub-tropical climates.
Auricularia Auricula-judae Nutrition Facts
The nutritional content of 100 g (3.5 oz) of dried fungus includes 370 kcal, 10.6 g of protein, 0.2 g of fat, 65 g of carbohydrate, 5.8 g ash, and 0.03% mg of carotene. Fresh mushrooms contain about 90% moisture.
Recipe: Wood Ear Mushroom Salad
4 cups rehydrated wood ears, trimmed and washed
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 fresh red chili peppers, deseeded and chopped (optional)
1½ tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions (and/or cilantro)
In a medium-sized pot, cook the wood ears in boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
Drain and rinse under cold running water to cool them completely. Set aside and let any excess water drain off. You can also use a salad spinner to get rid of the excess water.
In a large bowl, mix together the garlic, peppers, vinegar, light soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil until the sugar dissolves. Next, add the wood ear kmushrooms and mix well. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Make sure to stir and mixture again before serving, as the sauce tends to settle to the bottom. Plate and garnish with the chopped scallion and/or cilantro.
Serve your wood ear mushroom salad as a side dish or appetizer!
Recipe: Vietnamese Egg Meatloaf
20 g wood ear mushrooms (~ a scant 1/2 cup)
500 g ground pork
200 g shrimp minced
5 large eggs (3 whole, 2 separated into yolks and whites)
200 g shallots diced (3-4 medium shallots)
1 medium carrot shredded
2-3 cloves garlic minced
50 g mung bean noodles
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
Soak the wood ear mushrooms in warm water for 15-20 minutes, or until softened and pliable. Once the mushrooms are ready, chop them into thin slices, or mince them.
Soak mung bean noodles in cold water for 10-15 minutes. Once they're soft and flexible, cut them into approx. 5 cm (2 inch) pieces.
Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT FOR the two reserved egg yolks in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, ensuring that the eggs and egg whites are distributed evenly.
Line a large, flat pan with parchment paper. A brownie or cake pan works nicely, but anything that's not too deep and fits in a steamer will work. If you don't have parchment paper you can use aluminum foil or some vegetable oil to line the pan.
Spread the mixture in the pan. Smooth out the surface as much as you can.
Whisk the egg yolks with a pinch of salt. Pour them evenly over the surface of the meatloaf, tipping the pan to get the mixture to the edges if necessary.
Place the meatloaf in a steamer. Cover and steam for 20 minutes. You may need to adjust the cooking time if your pan is on the small side, as it will make the meatloaf thicker. If in doubt, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer - it's done at 71°C (160°F).
When uncovering the finished meatloaf, take care to let condensation on the lid drip away from the egg mixture to avoid discoloring it (there's nothing dangerous with getting water on the top, but it's less attractive). Let the finished meatloaf sit for about 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving alone or with broken rice.
Recipe: Pork Belly with Bell peppers and Wood Ear Mushrooms
1 pound pork belly, cut into half-inch slices
1 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in cold water for 2 hours and chopped roughly
1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
scant ¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
Sear pork in a dry wok over medium-high heat until golden brown on all sides.
Then add the bell pepper and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the soy sauce and mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes to marry all the flavors.
Add ¼ cup water, cover, and simmer for 5-10 minutes over medium heat. Stir one last time and serve!
Recipe: One-Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
1 tbsp oil
6 oz cremini mushrooms - washed, trimmed, halved, and sliced
1/2 cup shallots - finely minced
3/4 cup mixed dried mushrooms
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper - freshly ground (plus more for garnishing)
1/4 tsp coarse salt
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups wide pasta
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp Maggi seasoning sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or skillet over medium heat. Add the cremini mushrooms and shallots. Sauté until the shallots are translucent and softened, 5–7 minutes.
Add the rehydrated mushrooms, thyme, black pepper, and salt. Sauté for one minute. Add the pasta and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover the pot and continue simmering until most of the liquid has been absorbed or reduced, and an additional 2–5 minutes. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Remove from the heat and mix in the Maggi seasoning sauce, mustard, and sour cream. Taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh chives or parsley, nutritional yeast (if using), and more freshly ground black pepper.
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