The beech mushroom (Hypsizygus tessulatus) is a commonly cultivated mushrooms from East Asia. Also referred to as buma shimeji, the mushrooms English name comes from the where it is commonly found growing, on beech trees. They have also been known as clam shell mushrooms. These mushrooms are well loved and used in cuisine all over the world.
Habitat, Distribution, and Wild Growth
While this mushroom is originally from the East Asia, it has since spread around the world. The mushroom can now be found growing on a variety of different trees. It likes beech, maple, poplar, birch, and elm and will grown in cooler temperate forests wherever these types of trees are found. The species is now a common find in the pacific northwest as well as in many parts of Europe.
Appearance and Morphology
This mushroom grows in clusters much like oyster mushrooms do. The clusters erupt from wood or trees where the mushrooms grow and produce bunches of individual mushrooms. The caps take on a light brown as the mushrooms mature and the stem remains white.
Taste and Cooking
The beech mushroom has a strong bitter taste when raw. When cooked the bitter taste melts away leaving behind a nutty taste. These mushrooms also retain their firmness when cooked and they make a perfect addition to stir-fry, soup, and stews because of this.
The mushrooms are almost completely usable, having only the tough ends of the stalk removed before cooking. They easily respond to both high and low heat cooking and are very difficult to overcook.
The mushroom is commercially cultivated in a variety of fashions. Most commercial operations grow these mushrooms on a sawdust substrate or specially formulated growing medium.
Beech mushrooms grow at relatively standard temperatures and humidity. Mycelium development and spawn production occurs optimally between 70-75F. Primordia and fruit body formation occurs optimally at 60F. Humidity of 90-100% is typical though all growth stages.
At home the beech mushroom is grown best on sawdust blocks or in bottles. The Master’s Mix is a good substrate for them and will produce mushrooms well. Spawn takes 30-45 days to grow and pinning and fruiting occurs between 12-22 days later. If possible try to use beech, elm, or oak wood in your master’s mix for best results.