Enokitake Mushroom (Flammulina Filiformis)

Enokitake Mushroom (Flammulina Filiformis)

The enokitake mushroom (Flammulina filiformis) is an agaric (gilled mushroom) species belonging to the family Physalacriaceae. The mushroom is well known for its use in Japanese cuisine, and the name enokitake is the Japanese term for it. The mushroom is widely cultivated in East Asia.

In Mandarin Chinese, the mushroom is called jīnzhēngū (“gold needle mushroom”) or jīngū (“gold mushroom”).

In 2015, Flammulina filiformis was initially described as a variety of Flammulina velutipes, based on DNA sequencing. Further molecular research using a combination of different sequences has shown that Flammulina filiformis and Flammulina velutipes are distinct and should be regarded as separate species.

Since enokitake mushrooms were previously known as Flammulina velutipes, many sources related to their medicinal benefits use this species name. However, you should know that when studies refer to the “golden needle mushroom” or “winter mushroom” as Flammulina velutipes, the now accepted species name is Flammulina filiformis.

Individual fruit bodies of the enokitake mushroom are up to 50 mm (2 in) tall. The cap is convex at first, becoming flat when expanded, growing up to 45 mm (1.75 in) across. The cap surface is smooth, viscid (glutinous or sticky) when damp, with an ochraceous yellow to yellow-brown color.

The lamellae (gills) are cream to yellowish white. The stipe (stem) is smooth, pale yellow at the apex and yellow-brown to dark brown towards the base, without a ring.

There is a significant difference in appearance between wild and cultivate enokitake mushrooms. Cultivated specimens are not exposed to light, which results in white or pallid fruit bodies with long stipes and small caps.

The enokitake mushroom grows on the dead wood of Betula platyphylla, Broussonetia papyrifera, Dipentodon sinicus, Neolitsea species, Salix species, and other broad-leaved trees. It grows naturally in China, Korea, and Japan.

Flammulina filiformis has been cultivated in China since 800 AD. It can be cultivated on various substrates, including sawdust, wheat straw, and paddy straw.

Enokitake mushrooms are typically grown in the dark, producing pallid fruit bodies with long and narrow stipes and undeveloped caps. Exposure to light results in more typical, short-stiped, colored fruitbodies.

Cultivated enokitake mushrooms are sold both fresh and canned. The fungus has a crisp texture. It is a common ingredient in soups, especially in East Asian cuisine, although it can be used for salads and other types of dishes as well.

In this guide on Flammulina filiformis, we’ll be covering the following topics:

  • Enokitake mushroom benefits
  • Enokitake mushroom side effects
  • How to grow enokitake mushrooms
  • Cooking with enokitake mushrooms (plus recipes)
  • How to make enokitake mushroom tea/coffee
  • Enokitake mushroom powder

Enokitake Mushroom Benefits

Enokitake mushrooms are highly nutritious and offer a range of medicinal benefits.

The Nutritional Profile Of Flammulina Filiformis

Flammulina filiformis is rich in a variety of nutrients. One cup (65 g) of raw enokitake mushrooms contains:

  • Calories: 24
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbs: 5 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Niacin: 29 percent of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Pantothenic acid: 18 percent of the DV
  • Thiamin: 12 percent of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 10 percent of the DV
  • Copper: 8 percent of the DV
  • Folate: 8 percent of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 6 percent of the DV

Enokitake mushrooms are especially high in niacin, a micronutrient that your body uses to regulate cholesterol and promote brain health.

Each serving of enokitake mushrooms contains a healthy amount of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), which your body uses to synthesize fatty acids.

In addition, these mushrooms are rich in thiamine, which regulates the function of your nerve cells.

High In Antioxidants

Enokitake mushrooms are a great source of antioxidants. These are compounds that can help neutralize harmful free radicals, thereby protecting your cells from damage and oxidative stress.

Moreover, antioxidants may help prevent many chronic conditions, including heart disease, different types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

One review report highlights that enokitake mushrooms contain the following antioxidants:

  • Gallic acid
  • Quercetin
  • Ferulic acid
  • Caffeic acid
  • Chlorogenic acid
  • Ellagic acid
  • Pyrogallol

The authors of the review point out, however, that the exact types and amounts of antioxidants found in enokitake mushrooms can vary depending on several factors, including where the mushrooms are grown and the specific subspecies.

Possible Anti-Cancer Effects

While more research is needed in humans, some test-tube studies indicate that enokitake mushrooms may possess some cancer-fighting properties.

For example, one test-tube study found that enokitake mushroom extract may have prevented the growth of liver cancer cells.

Another test-tube study investigated the effects of eight extracts of medicinal mushrooms, including enokitake mushrooms. The researchers discovered that they all may have decreased the spread of breast and cervical cancer cells.

In addition, a separate test-tube study revealed that certain compounds extracted from enokitake mushrooms may suppress the growth of stomach cancer cells by up to 95 percent.

With all these studies, however, you should keep in mind that they involved highly concentrated amounts of enokitake mushroom extract. We need further research to determine if enokitake mushrooms can combat cancer growth in humans when consumed in normal food amounts.

Heart Health Benefits

Studies have shown that enokitake mushrooms can help support various aspects of heart health.

For instance, one animal study found that hamsters given enokitake mushroom extract or powder had lower levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol compared with those in a control group.

A test-tube study concluded that the antioxidant content of enokitake mushrooms may help slow the progression of atherosclerosis, which refers to the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries and is a risk factor for heart disease.

Other animal studies show that enokitake mushroom extract may decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Nonetheless, we need research in humans to evaluate how enokitake mushrooms affect heart health when enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

Improved Brain Function

Some research has found that enokitake mushrooms may improve brain function and memory.

In one animal study, certain compounds extracted from enokitake mushrooms offered protection against impairments in learning and memory caused by a medication associated with memory loss.

Additionally, this treatment with enokitake mushroom extract increased levels of certain antioxidants and neurotransmitters in the brain.

A separate animal study observed similar findings. The researchers reported that pairing enokitake mushroom extract with ginsenosides — compounds found in ginseng — can improve brain function in rats with Alzheimer’s disease.

A test-tube study showed that enokitake mushroom extract may help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates attention, learning, and memory.

Again, more studies are needed to determine whether enokitake mushrooms offer similar benefits when you consume them as part of your diet.

Enhanced Immunity

Due to the presence of antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds, enokitake mushrooms may offer immune-boosting properties.

According to one animal study, mice who consumed compounds extracted from enokitake mushrooms had increased levels of certain immune cells.

In a study in mice with a viral respiratory infection, the proteins in enokitake mushrooms reduced airway inflammation.

Multiple test-tube and animal studies show that enokitake mushroom extract may increase the production of immune cells to help support healthy immune function.

Despite these promising results, we need more high-quality studies in humans. However, if you want to make your immune system more healthy and robust through dietary changes, consuming enokitake mushrooms may offer you added defense against infections.

Enokitake Mushroom Side Effects

While most people won’t experience any negative reactions from consuming enokitake mushrooms, side effects are still possible.

Risk Of Rhabdomyolysis

One study has suggested that enokitake mushroom consumption may cause increased activity of plasma creatine kinase, which has deleterious effects on both skeletal and cardiac muscle.

The researchers behind this study in mice state that “the previously unexamined, potentially hazardous side effects of mushroom consumption (myo- and cardiotoxicity) should be thoroughly investigated before recommending this mushroom species as a health-promoting food item.”

Allergic Reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to enokitake mushrooms. Typically, this will involve a general mushroom allergy, rather than an allergy to enokitake mushrooms only.

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling of the lips, mouth, and/or throat
  • Wheezing
  • Skin rashes or hives
  • Runny nose and/or watery eyes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping or bloating

More severe symptoms include fainting, shortness of breath, or a drop in blood pressure.

Risk Of Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction. There have been cases of people experiencing anaphylaxis (severe hypotension, or low blood pressure) after consuming enokitake mushrooms, although this reaction is rare.

How To Grow Enokitake Mushrooms

If you want to have an abundant supply of enokitake mushrooms in an affordable way, then your best bet is to grow them yourself. If you’ve never grown mushrooms before, don’t fret. The process is pretty simple.

Before beginning your grow, there are a few things you might want to know.

What Is The Best Substrate For Growing Enokitake Mushrooms?

Along with your mushroom spawn, you will need a growing medium. Different species of mushrooms favor varying types of substrate. Some only grow on particular substrates, while others can adapt to many growing mediums (e.g. oyster mushrooms).

Enokitake mushrooms prefer a substrate predominantly made from hardwoods, such as oak or wood from fruiting trees (like Hackberry trees).

Both hardwood chips and/or sawdust are perfectly suitable to use when growing these mushrooms.

Can You Use Supplements?

In addition to choosing the right kind of growth medium, you can also add supplements to your substrate, such as lime or gypsum.

The advantage of adding supplements is that they provide mushroom spores with the necessary vitamins and minerals to grow healthy mycelium (the root-like structure of the fungus). This will ultimately result in a healthy flush of delicious enokitake mushrooms.

Should You Use An Enokitake Mushroom Grow Kit?

The benefit of the DIY route for growing mushrooms is that once you learn how to do it, it’ll be much easier the next time. You’ll know what to buy, the steps to take, and how to ensure a successful grow.

Nevertheless, if you want to simplify the process even further, you can purchase a pre-made growing kit. This might be suitable if you’ve never grown mushrooms before and want to ensure that your first grow is a success. This kit from The Third Wave is a great option.

Grow kits are the easiest method of cultivating mushrooms. They conveniently contain everything you need in a small package to produce a successful crop of edible mushrooms. All you need, in addition to the grow kit, is tap water and a spray bottle so you can maintain the appropriate moisture levels for your mushrooms. All you need to do is spray the kit in the morning and at night.

Materials Required

To grow enokitake mushrooms, you’ll need:

  • Enokitake mushroom spawn
  • Substate or growing medium
  • Sterilized glass container or plastic container

A Step-By-Step Guide To Growing Enokitake Mushrooms

Sterilize All Your Equipment

Sterilize all the tools and containers you will use for your mushroom growing kit. This includes the glass or plastic container, any knives, and your hands. You can use some sterilizing rubbing alcohol, or submerge your tools and equipment in hot water for 10 minutes.

Prepare Your Growing Medium

To prepare your growing medium, you will want to make sure that it contains a sufficient amount of water to sustain the necessary moisture levels. If you’re using hardwood sawdust or hardwood chips, you should soak them overnight in hot water. This will pasteurize the substrate (eliminating any unwanted microorganisms), as well as allow the wood to absorb some water. Just remember to get rid of any excess water before you add the substrate to the grow kit.

Mix Your Pasteurized Substrate With The Enokitake Spores

With sterilized hands or with gloves on, combine your mushroom spores with the growing medium. It’s important to ensure that you spread the mushroom spawn as evenly as possible through the substrate. This ensures the maxim surface area for the spawn to attach itself to the substrate.

Fill Your Mushroom Grow Kit Container

Carefully place the mixture into your sterilized container, filling it until it is approximately one inch from the top.

Find A Place To Inoculate The Spawn

You will now need somewhere to store the container for the next 2-3 weeks. During this phase, the spores will inoculate the substrate and white mycelium will grow. For a healthy mycelium growth rate, you want to find a space that has a stable temperature of around 72-77 degrees Fahrenheit (22-25 degrees Celsius). It’s also crucial to maintain an environment of high humidity.

Move The Container To A Cooler Environment To Stimulate Fruiting

Once you notice the growing medium has been overtaken by mycelium, it’s time to find a cooler location so that the fruiting phase can begin. The temperature range should be around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit (10-12 degrees Celsius). You will soon observe small mushroom pins growing from the mycelium.

Harvest The Mushrooms

The enokitake mushrooms should begin to grow quite quickly, so at this stage, it’s critical to keep an on the grow kit each day. Once the mushrooms reach a suitable size, take a clean knife and cut the mushrooms off at the stem. If you’ve set up your grow kit correctly, you should be able to harvest several flushes of enokitake mushrooms before the substrate is spent.

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How To Cook Enokitake Mushrooms (Plus Recipes)

Enokitake mushrooms have a mild, savory flavor. They taste nutty and even slightly fruity, not at all like meaty oyster mushrooms.

To cook enokitake mushrooms to perfection, you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • A teaspoon of low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger

Directions

  1. Cut the bottom two inches off the mushrooms and discard. Separate mushroom strands gently.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a medium-sized non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant (about one minute). Add the mushrooms; cook and stir until they begin to wilt (about two minutes). Add soy sauce and ginger; toss to coat. Cook for 1-2 minutes more.

When cooked in this way, enokitake mushrooms can work well in a variety of dishes, including:

  • Stir-fries
  • Korean pancakes
  • Soups (e.g. ramen and noodle soup)
  • Noodles
  • Vegetable frittata
  • Wontons
  • Bibimbap
  • Mixed mushroom bruschetta
  • Risotto
  • Mushroom pie
  • Stews
  • Hot pot
  • Salads
  • Pizza

Enokitake Mushroom Tea/Coffee

Another way to enjoy the health benefits of enokitake mushrooms is by making mushroom tea or coffee. You can use whole enokitake mushrooms, mushroom powder, or a tincture.

If you don’t want to powderize the mushrooms yourself, you can also purchase pre-made enokitake mushroom powder from a reputable vendor.

How To Make Enokitake Mushroom Tea

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups of purified water
  • 1 ½ cup of enokitake mushrooms
  • ¾ tsp of maple syrup
  • 3.5 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 2 drops of lemon essential oil

Instructions:

  1. Chop the enokitake mushrooms into smaller pieces.
  2. Put the pieces of mushrooms in the large pot of water that is on the stove.
  3. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a low simmer for one hour.
  4. Pour the mixture into a strainer.
  5. Add a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground turmeric, as well as maple syrup, and mix.
  6. Add the lemon essential oil and mix again.
  7. If you’d like to enhance the flavor, you can add almond milk, ginger, cinnamon, or stevia.

You can keep your enokitake mushroom tea in the fridge and reheat it later or serve it chilled.

A much simpler method is to make your favorite kind of tea and then add 1 tbsp of enokitake mushroom powder to it. Just stir in the powder and enjoy.

How To Make Enokitake Mushroom Coffee

If you’re more of a coffee drinker, then there are basically four ways to make enokitake mushroom coffee at home:

  1. Buy a commercial enokitake mushroom coffee product
  2. Buy enokitake extract powder and add it to your coffee
  3. Buy enokitake mushroom tincture and add it to your coffee
  4. Forage for mushrooms and make your own powder to add to your coffee

Commercial Enokitake Mushroom Coffee

This is the easiest way to make enokitake mushroom coffee since much of the preparation is already done for you. Simply buy the coffee and brew it as your normally would.

However, there are some important things to keep in mind. Firstly, not all products are created equal. There is very little regulation in the supplement industry. So many companies aren’t required to disclose their mushroom sourcing, growing methods, extraction process, or really any details about the supplement’s benefits or risks.

This is why it’s crucial to buy any coffee product from a trusted brand. To enjoy maximum health benefits, look for a company that uses only the fruiting body, is transparent about its sourcing and extraction methods, and shares COA or third-party lab test results.

Buy Enokitake Mushroom Extract Powder And Add It To Your Coffee

If you want more control over your dosage of enokitake mushrooms, then this is the ideal choice for you. Moreover, using powder opens you up to significantly more brands and sourcing options, and may even allow you to shop locally for a product.

When buying enokitake mushroom powder, make sure that the company you’re going with is using only the fruiting body and shares their extraction process. Mushroom extracts may offer more beneficial effects than powder alone.

Here’s how to make enokitake mushroom coffee with mushroom powder:

  1. Brew your morning cup of coffee how you normally would
  2. Measure and add a serving of enokitake mushroom powder to your mug following your package directions. If none are listed, ½-1 tsp is usually a safe dosage.
  3. While your coffee is still very hot, slowly pour your coffee over the mushroom powder
  4. Stir the powder in
  5. Allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes

Buy Enokitake Mushroom Tincture And Add It To Your Coffee

Another option is to use enokitake mushroom tincture instead of powder. This option is ideal if you want to hide the taste of tincture in your morning coffee. Tinctures are convenient, effective, and a trusted delivery method for consuming functional mushrooms. But not everyone likes taking a tincture directly.

Here’s how to make enokitake mushroom coffee with tincture:

  1. Brew your morning coffee like you’re used to doing
  2. Measure out a full dropper of tincture
  3. Add it to your mug while your coffee is still very hot
  4. Stir and enjoy

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Forage For Enokitake Mushrooms To Add To Your Coffee

This is a great option if you’re able to find wild enokitake mushrooms near where you live or from your local farmer’s market.

Here’s how to dry and grind enokitake mushrooms for coffee:

  1. Prepare your enokitake mushrooms by gently brushing off any debris or dirt with a vegetable brush. An old toothbrush works, too. (There is no need to wash the mushrooms.)
  2. Add the mushrooms to a food dehydrator until all the moisture is removed. Another option is to place the fresh enokitake mushrooms in an oven heated to 175F for two hours. Then transfer them to a colander to air-dry for another 3-5 days.
  3. Once completely dried, the mushrooms are ready to be ground into powder. Use a coffee grinder or food processor to grind your mushrooms into as fine a powder as possible. Your mushroom powder is likely to be chunkier than any commercial version. You can store your mushroom powder in an airtight glass container, like a mason jar, for up to a year. Once you have the powder, you can make your coffee as you normally would.
  4. Measure out 1 g of mushroom powder. Depending on how chunky the powder is, this is likely to be around a tsp.
  5. While your coffee is still very hot, add your mushroom powder and stir.
  6. Allow it to steep for 3-5 minutes.

If you don’t want any tiny mushroom chunks floating in your coffee, then you’ll want to strain them out.

You can use a French press for foraged enokitake mushroom powder, as it means you don’t have to worry about any mushroom chinks floating in your coffee. If using a French press, combine your ground coffee and mushroom powder together, then brew your coffee as you normally would.

Enokitake Mushroom Powder

You can purchase enokitake mushroom powder from a variety of vendors. If you decide to do so, just make sure the vendor is reputable and well-reviewed. The product should be organic and free from industrial pollutants.

You should be aware that there are two different forms of enokitake mushroom powder that you can buy online:

  • Powder derived from ground-up, dried, whole enokitake mushrooms
  • Enokitake mushroom extract powder. This is a more concentrated form of enokitake mushrooms, in which the active constituents of the mushroom are extracted. By using an extract powder, you will consume a much lower dosage to get the same medicinal benefits. Extracts can vary widely in terms of strengths (and therefore dosages), so make sure you follow recommendations for dosing when buying an extract.

Many enokitake mushroom extracts (which can come in the form of capsules or tinctures) may also have other mushroom extracts added to them, such as chaga, lion’s mane, maitake, cordyceps, shiitake, Turkey Tail, oyster, reishi, and Tremella, as these offer health benefits, too. Our partner, FreshCap, creates a range of high quality functional mushroom products – code ‘HEALINGMAPS’ will get you a discount.

Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

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