Pine Mushrooms (Matsutake) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Pine Mushrooms Safe to Eat?

True pine mushrooms are safe to eat. Be careful, though, isince it’s easy to confuse matsutake mushrooms with white amanita caps.

Amanita mushrooms of this variety are quite toxic, so you want to be sure that you distinguish between the two. You’ll also want to clean them off in case any errant pesticides got on them.

How Much are Pine Mushrooms Worth?

Fine matsutake can fetch a price of around $1,500 a pound, though it’s unlikely that you’ll find mushrooms of that quality in the wild. Common mushrooms will sell for around $3.75 per pound.

In the Republic of Korea, a price of around ₩60,000 per kilogram would be common. This is around the equivalent of $50 or so.

Market fluctuations as well as the popularity of certain recipes have caused prices to rise or drop sharply over time, which has made it rather difficult to predict what a single pine mushroom may sell for.

What Does Pine Mushroom Taste Like?

Aficionados feel that matsutake has a really unique flavor that’s not easy to describe to someone who hasn’t tasted one. They’re slightly nutty and have a mild spicy taste, though this could theoretically apply to countless types of mushrooms.

Since they grow on tree roots, pine mushrooms do tend to collect some of the flavor given off by said roots. If you’re a fan of natural foods or beverages like pine needle tea, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to love the taste of pine mushrooms as well.

Are Pine Mushrooms Poisonous?

Pine mushrooms themselves aren’t poisonous, though some people may have a slight aversion to them at first. This usually goes away over time, but it’s generally recommended that newcomers don’t eat too much of them until they get used to eating them.

Unfortunately, some people do confuse pine mushrooms for the various amanita mushroom species, which are indeed toxic. Make sure that you run any new mushroom you find past an expert until you’re ready to genuinely distinguish between the two.

Can You Get Sick from Pine Mushrooms?

Assuming that you’re looking at a true matsutake and not a toxic mushroom that’s been misidentified as one, you normally don’t have to worry about getting sick from them. Some people do report that they’ve experienced gastrointestinal discomfort from eating pine mushrooms, however, so you’ll want to be careful.

Some chefs recommend eating a small portion of sauteed pine mushroom first and then increasing your portions later on as you get used to eating them.

What are the Benefits of Pine Mushrooms?

Most of the benefits of pine mushrooms come from the fact that they’re extremely rich in several important micro-nutrients that most people don’t get enough of. Those nutrients are:

  • Thiamine
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamins A & C

Some advocates of traditional medicine believe that there could be a connection between eating pine mushrooms and having a lower cancer risk. That might have something to do with all of these nutrients.

How Long Do Pine Mushrooms Last?

You’ll want to eat pine mushrooms right away if possible, though you can store them in the refrigerator for around 10 days if you can’t. While they can be flash frozen, they still won’t last as long as most frozen vegetables so it’s important that they’re used quickly.

Some people have had good results with keeping dried ones for several weeks at a time.

Can You Eat Matsutake Raw?

You can eat matsutake raw, and foraging chef Alan Bergo actually recommends doing so because their taste is said to be more exquisite before cooking. It’s best to eat them sauteed or roasted for a while first, though, because some people have a natural aversion to mushrooms of this strength.

You’ll also want to be absolutely sure that you have a matsutake because some other mushrooms have a similar appearance and may cause an upset stomach.

How Do You Eat a Matsutake?

Culinary specialists have come up with countless ways to eat Matsutake mushrooms. Some of the more popular include:

  1. Sauteed with butter
  2. Raw
  3. Grilled to medium rare consistency
  4. Stir fried with mixed vegetables
  5. Sprinkled with nut or seed oil
  6. Boiled, sliced and served over rice
  7. Cleaned, sliced and sprinkled with table salt
  8. Cooked with a reduced soy sauce mixture

How Do You Cook Dried Matsutake Mushrooms?

Dried matsutake mushrooms can be added to misoshiru soup or fried in a wok with a light amount of oil along with other vegetables. You may want to bring a soy mixture to medium heat in a small saucepan and reduce it while mixing in dried mushrooms.

Try serving this over fried or boiled rice along with a sprinkling of scallions.

Can I Freeze Pine Mushrooms?

Pine mushrooms should be flash frozen to avoid losing their unique flavor. Lay the mushrooms down on a baking sheet that’s been coated with butcher’s parchment.

Make sure that no stems or caps overlap with one another, and clean each mushroom individually. You’ll then want to flash freeze them for at least two hours according to culinary expert Melanie Fincher.

Where Can I Pick Pine Mushrooms?

True matsutake mushrooms are found on red pine trees in forests on the mainland Japanese island of Honshū, though you might also find them growing wild in parts of Hokkaido. In the United States, a form of pine mushroom can be picked from the roots of trees along the coast of the state of Washington.

Some people have also reported sightings in northern California and throughout the eastern half of Oregon. Keep in mind that mushroom collection in protected forests in all three states is highly restricted.