Yunnan mushrooms - Shaxi mushroom picking
With its superior climate and geology, Yunnan is the richest location on earth for wild mushrooms, with a picking season lasting much longer than Europe's, stretching all the way from May to September. There are more than 140,000 total mushroom types on earth, but less than ten percent have so far been been named. Three thousand are considered edible and of these, 850 varieties are found in Yunnan. While over a thousand tons are exported each year, meeting more than 60% of global demand, and generating $70-80 million of profit, at least 50,000 tons are consumed locally in just this one province alone. As well as a food, the Chinese view fungi as an important medicinal herb which belongs to the Yin group of foods.
Should you decide to go hunting around Shaxi, try to cut the mushrooms above ground, using a knife. It is also best to only pick mushrooms which are more mature, so that they will have had chance to propagate their spores, before being harvested. Here are a handful of varieties that you are most likely to discover in this area.
A full day (9am to 5pm) for 1-3 people is RMB 500, half-day is RMB 300
4 people is RMB 600, half day is RMB 350
5 people is RMB 700, half day is RMB 450
Pick up from guesthouse by local tuktuk at 9am, a short drive to the foot of the mountain, start our hike up into the mountain looking for mushrooms. Your local guide Apple (photo) will also give a short intro on the wild plants, herbs, edible veggies we come cross during the tour.
You can pick some for our lunch as well later the day.
About 4 hours mushroom picking then return to Apple's house on the
hillside to have lunch with amazing view overlook the whole valley. If
you wish you can prepare lunch with the chef, we will cook whatever we pick from the mountain, plus Shaxi local goat cheese, a fresh green
mixed salad from Apple's private garden .
Lunch is RMB 50 per person including drinks such as black tea, green tea or fresh mint tea .
After lunch a short mountain hike to a 80 year old farmer's cottage
to visit his outdoor bee hive with a tiny herb garden .
Send back to your guesthouse around 5pm by tuktuk.
- Bring a raincoat in case
- Wear good shoes
- This time of the year snakes are very active
- Bring a big bottle of water.
- I will carry a basket with me for the picking
Transportation fee is RMB 50 round trip.
All about Shaxi Mushrooms
Pine Mushroom (song rong) Matsutake Tricholoma
After pests destroyed the Japanese matsutake industry more then ten years ago, Yunnan quickly stepped in, and now supplies Japan with more than half of its yearly demand. Previously they would fetch just 35 yuan per kilo at best, but now they command up to 500 USD per kilo towards the the end of season period. It is said that the matsutake were the only "plants" that survived the atomic bombing on Hiroshima in 1945, and since then the Japanese have developed a strong belief in their health benefits.
Porcini (meiwei niugan or delicious cow's liver mushrooms) Boletus edulis
There are more than one hundred and fifty varieties of boletus, but only a few varieties, the yellow, white and black ones, can be eaten. One trick is to fry them together with garlic slices. If the garlic turns black, then there is most definitely a problem. Boletus is said to dispel and, prevent colds, and strengthen the immune system. Yunnan had no SARS cases in 2003, and the locals claim this was because they eat so many mushrooms and fungus.
Dried Beef Mushroom (ganbajun) Thelephora
With is strong pine fragrance, this paper thin fungus has black and white wrinkles, and is surprisingly chewy. Shredding and frying only intensifies the sinus clearing, evergreen taste and smell. Found only in sandy soils and around the bases of pine trees, this species is limited only to Yunnan.
Termite mushrooms (jizong) Termitomyces albuminosus
As the Chinese name suggests, these taste just like tender chicken with a strong hint of 'umami', and are rich in protein, iron, calcium, and amino acids. The species gets its western name because it is actively cultivated by termites, The fungus converts woody material that the termites are unable to digest into sugars. Sometimes used as a sauce base, more often it adds a savory base to soups. Of course, it can also be stir fried along with the region's own version of prosciutto ham to make an delicious fried rice.