Saturday, November 13, 2010

The World of Mushrooms - Morels to Magic

When you mention Florida Herb House many people think their exotic dried mushroom powders such as Morels, Chanterelle, Porcini, Lobster, Shiitake, Reishi and more. Chefs and food lovers around the globe flock to this little herb shop in South Daytona, Florida to pick up these hard to find gourmet mushrooms. Today we spoke with the owner of Florida Herb House, Stephen Sharp, and asked him what is the most common question asked about these great fungi. We were surprised to hear the answer. Stephen quotes, "Believe it or not, the question we hear all the time from people via email or over the phone are questions about the difference between our culinary dried mushrooms and hallucinogenic type mushrooms. Maybe they think since we sell over 15 types of mushrooms we have a knowledge of the other kind. We usually just refer people to the Internet to gather more information and also let them know that those mushrooms, whether found in the wild or not, are highly illegal in the USA."

So after being surprised about the number of times this questions is asked, we figured now would be a great time to address the topic of mushrooms. The mystery of mushrooms is an age old subject. How do some mushrooms end up being poisonous while some contain an abundance of health giving nutrients? Why will one type of mushroom make your spaghetti sauce a delight while another may send you to the emergency room? This is a question that has no definite answer but our general understanding of mushrooms over the last hundred years is deeper than ever. As of 2011, there will be over 6,000 different species of mushrooms which have been identified and named. Of these less than 1% are of the hallucinogenic type, otherwise known as the "Magic Mushroom". Be forewarned that this type of mushroom can be deadly and highly toxic to the human body.

In America there are about a dozen species of cultivated edible mushrooms. The remainder are classified as "toad stools" or poisonous mushrooms. The most deadly mushroom found in the USA is the "Amanita muscaria" or "Destroying Angel" mushroom. If you ever went for a stroll through the woods and came across a mushroom with a black cap with white spots - avoid it! It is safe to say that this is a mushroom from the deadly "Amanita muscaria" group. It is best to leave your mushroom shopping to the inside of your favorite supermarket or herb shop. Many deadly and psychedelic classes of mushrooms, during their early stages of growth, will look very much like the edible mushrooms found in stores. Never eat a wild mushroom unless it is positively identified as one of the edible varieties and even then it is best to leave it be. A great tip for identifying poisonous mushrooms is by looking under the mushroom cap for a small "skirt".

As far as hallucinogenic mushrooms which can also be very deadly and toxic the most common type is the "Fly Agaric" mushroom. As far back as the 1800's these mushrooms were used in rituals and ceremonies. This type of mushroom is illegal in the United States, and if you are caught with one of these you could end up in jail. Addiction to these mushrooms was so severe back in the 1800's that men and women actually would drink the urine from anyone who had eaten the mushroom. This made many people sick and even caused death among many due to the lack of proper medical care during those times. So why is it some types of mushrooms taste great in our soups and others can kill? Many botanists credit evolution to the science behind the chemical and cellular makeup of mushrooms. As soon as we can confidentially determine why the Truffle mushroom grows only underground, and why these types of fungi reproduce by sending spores through the air, then we will be able to unlock the mysteries which separate the poisonous hallucinogenic mushroom from our beloved edible species of mushrooms.

Florida Herb House is your home to over 20 fresh dried culinary mushrooms and mushroom powders. Make your next dish come alive with our mushrooms packed fresh to order and dried with the utmost care. Visit us online at or and type in the search word "mushroom" to browse all our great fungi! Try our "Mushroom Delight" powder which is a secret ingredient of many popular and famous chefs around the nation.

Use the coupon code "FLORIDAHERB" at checkout for 10-20% off your order! Have a great day!

K. Perry

Florida Herb House

1 comment:

  1. If you're cooking up an improvised dish in a saute pan, is there a mushroom spice that can be used to add a unique flavor to pretty much anything the way garlic does?