The 12 Most Expensive Mushrooms In The World

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[activecampaign form=1]The most expensive mushrooms in the world are rare and hard to cultivate. So no, you aren’t getting them at any local grocery stores. They are sensitive and not easy to mass-produce, driving consumer prices up to exorbitant amounts.

You might recognize some of the fungi listed if you’re a mushroom lover. If not, the good news is that they’re highly nutritious, delicious, and a part of haute cuisine. They are also a growing business opportunity for artisanal farmers and entrepreneurs worldwide.

Mushrooms grow wild in habitats across the globe, can be cultivated by individuals, and are produced by enterprising mushroom farmers in urban warehouses, isolated basements, caves, and under trees on a forested acreage. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find some of these under the most expensive bonsai trees in the world! The demand for “designer” mushrooms is, well, mushrooming! And some of them fetch very high prices.

Mushrooms are the “fruit” of fungi that thrive under certain conditions. They are fast-growing and adaptable and have been used by diverse cultures throughout history. Tens of thousands of varieties of fungi have been identified. But a relatively small number of edible mushrooms exist. In some ways, they are a “super” food, and modern science quickly points out their benefits.

Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and healthy vitamins. Some have significant amounts of potassium, iron, manganese, Vitamin D, B2, and B6. They are also low in calories and fat and high in fiber and protein.

Mushrooms: Interesting Creatures

In a sense, mushrooms are the ultimate organic foods, in the scientific definition of “living organisms” interacting in the environment with other organisms. Certain mushrooms play an essential role in the natural world because fungi and bacteria recycle the nutrients of dead or decaying matter. They “feed” on wood, leaves, and occasionally insects, speeding the decomposition process.

It’s a complicated, multi-phase process that requires the interaction of a host of variables. Others enhance plant growth by producing the spores that help perpetuate the fungus that nourishes the soil and promotes plant growth. Light and moisture, temperature, oxygen and nitrogen levels, and other physical conditions must be just right for fungi to do their work.

Fungi exist in diverse forms and can live in water, soil, air, or on plant material. What we call mushrooms are just one step in the fungal lifecycle. Although most people consider mushrooms part of the plant world, scientists believe fungi are closely related to animals. In addition to their vital role in the environment, they “behave” differently based on where they exist.

Health Benefits and Medicinal Qualities

There is validity to the claim that mushrooms have health-giving benefits and medicinal value, including alleviating chronic pain and lowering cholesterol. Researchers continue to explore their uses. Controlled studies confirm that some mushrooms can reduce some symptoms and may impact the treatment and prevention of certain diseases.

Mushroom allergies are relatively rare, but anyone sensitive to mold is advised to approach mushrooms with caution. Symptoms can occur not only from ingestion but also from simple skin contact or by inhaling airborne spores of the fungus. Wild mushrooms have other hazards. Some are highly toxic to humans.

Others contain a substance that produces hallucinogenic or psychotropic effects. Certain strains have been used in religious ceremonies since ancient times. Foraging mushrooms in the wild is not recommended for anyone who is not thoroughly trained.

Mushrooms are adaptable, readily available, and may be prepared in various ways. They add flavor and enhance the taste and appearance of other foods. Some have a pungent odor; others taste nutty, fruity, woody, or spicy. Most can be consumed raw, steamed, sauteed, fried, baked, stuffed, or grilled. Mushrooms are available commercially in many forms — fresh, dried, canned, frozen, and sometimes preserved in oil.

Choosing the Best Mushrooms

Mushrooms are not the “perfect food,” but they are good — and they’re good for you! An appreciation for mushrooms transcends cultures and borders, but not all mushrooms are equally prized across the globe.

The first commercial mushrooms were introduced in Paris restaurants in the mid-1600s, but it was not until later that actual mushroom cultivation began. It took until the early 20th century before Dutch growers developed highly effective cultivation methods. Mushroom popularity grew followed, both in Europe and in the United States.

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The classic white button mushroom, still known as the “Champignon,” or forest mushroom, is the favorite for gravy and sauces and stir-fry dishes and casseroles.

Even though they go by different names, the three most common varieties are identical. The only difference between the well-known White Button and Cremini Mushrooms is the age. Think of the little white ones as babies that turn a darker tan or light brown as they age and grow larger. They are sometimes also called Baby Bellas.

When Cremini Mushrooms are fully grown -they can grow to have a cap five inches or more in diameter — they are known as Portabella Mushrooms. These big ones are typically dark brown with a smooth cap and dark gills on the underside. All have a firm texture, and the older Cremini have a hearty, meaty flavor.

Rare and expensive mushrooms are distinctive. There are some unique varieties and some that are widely known.

Are Truffles Different From Mushrooms?

Truffles and mushrooms are both fungi’. The biggest difference is truffles are scarcer when compared to mushrooms. You’ll be able to find mushrooms at your local market, but you’ll have a hard time finding truffles.

Truffles grow in very specific conditions, making them harder to cultivate. Due to their rarity, truffles are much more expensive, which you’ll see after reading through this list.

Here are the world’s 12 most expensive mushrooms

Let’s take a look at the most expensive mushrooms and how they are produced around the world. We’ve included truffles in the list as they are mostly the same, the main differences being the size and where they grow. So whether you’re interested in growing mushrooms for profit or just curious, let’s explore these pricey pieces of fungi.

12. Kalahari Truffles

Grown in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, and known locally as African potatoes, these are pretty cheap, but they still have some of the mystique of their higher-priced “cousins.”

Price: About $4 for a pound

These truffles are lighter brown and have a milder scent and taste than black or white truffles. In addition, they flourish in the sandy landscape and are quickly discovered just by looking for cracks in the sand. There’s no need for pigs or dogs, just a stick to pry them out of the ground in the vicinity of Camelthorn trees. They can be eaten raw, boiled with spices as a side dish, or used in creative ways to flavor meats and vegetables.

During the season, they are widely available at roadside stands, open markets, and on restaurant menus. Truffle butter is full of distinctive flavor, and one restaurant in the country’s capital city features Kalahari Truffle ice cream!

11. Oyster Mushrooms

Typically large, pale grey or pearl white, Oyster Mushrooms are also called Abalone Mushrooms. They have fluted gills and a firm, relatively short stem on the underside. Also available in blue, pink, elm, and gold, they have an oddly alien look.

Price: Retail prices range from about $5 to $15 a pound

Oyster Mushrooms have been sprouting up at Farmer’s Markets throughout the nation and are used in recipes by innovative chefs, particularly in their exotic colors. They are best used almost immediately after harvesting but will last several days if quickly dried. Easy to cultivate, they are one of the best mushroom varieties for novices, and kits for home sprouting are available in large cities or through mail-order companies.

Oyster Mushrooms have a delicate, if alien appearance, with a meaty texture and exciting flavor. Traditional in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cooking, they are native to forest habitats in Siberian Asia, Northern Europe, and much of the United States.

10. Shiitake Mushrooms

Considered a specialty variety, these are a staple of Asian cooking, but their popularity has now spread to Western countries. They are tan or brown, with caps that are typically from two to four inches in size.

Price: From $12 to about $24 per pound, depending on location.

There are several different varieties of Shiitake, and each has a slightly different texture and taste. The Shiitake is sometimes considered a medicinal mushroom, and it is used both fresh and dried in traditional Japanese and Chinese cuisine and throughout East Asia. Touted for antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties,

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Shiitake Mushrooms have a meaty, chewy texture and a pleasing taste that goes well with other ingredients. It is a staple of traditional Japanese cuisine. It is available fresh or dried in many parts of the world.

9. Lion’s Mane

Although it has a sprawling, undefined shape with no cap and no stem, Lion’s Mane looks like a round balloon with long, shaggy “hair” or spines. It is sometimes known as a pompon or Bearded Tooth Mushroom.

Price: Varies widely, from about $8 to $36 a pound.

One of the most other-worldly edible mushrooms, the Lion’s Mane, Hericium erinaceusm, has characteristic shaggy spines that give it a furry appearance. It’s found in North America, Europe, and Asia from late summer to early fall on dead or dying logs. It also is cultivated fairly quickly in controlled environments. It is white when young but can age to a yellow or tan hue.

Lion’s mane was known for its medicinal qualities before being identified as a fascinating edible mushroom. The antioxidant content is exceptionally high and is currently studied for its possible ability to regenerate nerve tissue. The flavor and texture are compared to crab or lobster.

8. Porcini Mushrooms

The highly prized Boletus Edulis, or “King Bolete,” is found in hardwood forests, typically on the ground among hemlock, spruce chestnut, and pine trees. The Italian word for them translates to “piglets.”

Price: Between $55 and $70 a pound, sliced and dried.

Porcini are not easily cultivated and don’t live everywhere, so they are sometimes difficult to find. Known for their oversized caps, sometimes up to 10 inches in diameter, they also have sturdy, fat stems and look heavy. When mature, they can weigh up to a few pounds.

They also have a distinctive hearty, nutty flavor that can be used in many different dishes. Famously found in Italy, they grow in other parts of Europe, North America, and some other countries.

7. Enoki Mushrooms

With long stems and tiny caps, these little clumps of fungi “fruit” are among the most interesting edible mushrooms. They are fun to use in many dishes and have a mild flavor reminiscent of fresh white grape or mild radish.

Price: $108.00 a pound or 25-pound packages for $388.75 by mail order.

One of the more distinctive varieties, Enoki Mushrooms, calls to mind visions of miniature cauliflower or glossy bean sprouts with little white button ends. They have significant nutritional content, with high percentages of niacin and folate, as well as thiamin, potassium, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, and riboflavin.

Enoki is easy to use in stir-fry dishes and soups; the attached ends should be cut off to separate individual strands. Common in Asian cooking, they typically retain their crunch, even when cooked.

6. Chanterelles

A golden Chanterelle almost looks flower-like when spotted on a mossy forest floor. They grow in clusters during hot, humid days following heavy rainfall. Unlike other mushrooms, they can make people sick if not fully cooked.

Price: About $225 a pound, dried.

Chanterelles are easy to identify, with smooth caps and ridges that run down each stem. They are typically found in central Europe and Ukraine, where beech trees coexist with pines. Chanterelles have a light, fruity scent with an almost spicy flavor. The golden variety is highly sought, but other colors are equally tasty. They range from orange and yellow to white.

They appear in late spring but only develop under sauna-like conditions, so they are available only until early autumn.

5. Morels

These expensive mushrooms are like little trolls standing at attention on a forest floor. With a sturdy stem and a ruffled, conical “head,” they also can look slightly comical, even when cooked and served with other foods.

Price: $254 a pound dried; between $30 and 90 a pound fresh.

Dried Morels fetch more per pound than they command when fresh. The dried ones are much lighter. The ruffled cone-shaped head of the Morel is spongy. The mushroom is found in the wild only from March through May. With a nutty flavor similar to Shiitake Mushrooms, they have a more intense, unique taste. Because they are typically small, they are served as a garnish or with an accompanying sauce.

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Fresh Morels are not easily cultivated and are not readily available fresh. They can easily be foraged because of their distinctive appearance, but a better alternative is to buy dried Morels for home use.

4. Black Truffles

Because they are highly prized in Europe and challenging to harvest, a “black market” for truffles continues to exist in some areas. Trained dogs have primarily replaced the female pigs traditionally used to root out truffles. It seems the pigs devoured too many pricey mushrooms when digging them up!

Price: Wholesale prices vary from $800 to $900 a pound.

The French Black Perigord, tuber melanosporum, is still primarily a European product, harvested traditionally with the help of trained animals. However, commercial cultivation has been initiated in Australia and the United States because of high demand and long shipping delays.

Tennessee, Kentucky, California, and Oregon producers have met with some success, but it is a costly business. In 2017, more than 425 tons of fresh, dried, and canned truffles were imported into the United States, an increase of 75% from just seven years earlier, according to USDA statistics.

The primary market is for chefs and restaurants. Still, truffles are occasionally available at local markets in the states where they are harvested, just as they are in Europe during the season. New hot markets include Slovenia and Croatia, where truffles and truffle products are highly popular.

3. Matsutake Mushrooms

The Japanese Matsutake is an easily-recognizable little, pale mushroom with a well-formed cap and short stem. It has distinctive gills on the underside of the cap, and it’s appreciated for its spicy, slightly fruity flavor and aroma.

Price: $1,000 to $2,000 per pound

The Matsutake Mushroom has a spicy, somewhat fruity flavor and aroma. Typically it grows under red pine trees in the Tamba region of Japan, near Kyoto. It has traditionally been associated with the beginning of autumn and is considered a Japanese delicacy. However, its habitat is shrinking because red pine forests have been devastated by insects. Cultivation methods have not proved successful for this mushroom. Currently, it is considered to be an endangered species. Because of its rarity, the price is exceptionally high.

2. European White Truffle

Truffles grow underground, usually near the base of oak trees, and are relatively commonplace throughout Europe. Still, they are challenging to harvest, even with the help of truffle-sniffing female pigs or trained truffle dogs. The animals can detect the pungent odor of the ripe mushroom.

Price: Around $3,600 per pound, depending on the harvest and the market.

Truffles are one of the most treasures and rarest food products on Earth. The white truffle has so far resisted cultivation efforts, which is why the price is consistently high.

Interestingly, though, prices for all truffles are lower than two years ago, partially because other European countries are harvesting them more significantly.

Additionally, more locations have begun cultivating the black truffle, which makes it more readily available to chefs and mushroom lovers around the world.

The Italian white Alba, or tuber magnatum pico, still holds the crown as the most expensive truffle.

1. Yartsa Gunbu

The story behind these mushrooms is not very appetizing, but Tibetan men believe ancient texts identify the fungus as an aphrodisiac. NPR has described it as the viagra of the Himalayas Being able to afford it and to eat it even in minimal amounts, is considered a status symbol.

The Yartsa Mushroom Price is $2000 an ounce!

This parasitic fungus infects the bodies of caterpillars with tiny air-borne spores. Once the fungus is inside the caterpillar, it begins eating it alive from the inside. Gross.

The caterpillar dies in a mummified state, in an upright position, at the earth’s surface. In early spring, the fungus will begin growing up, emerging from the caterpillar carcass, to pop up out of the soil

You can harvest the long, thin-looking mushrooms between 3,000-5,000 meters above sea level in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.

Would you try these mushrooms? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>