FRESH CHESTNUT MUSHROOM Chestnut mushrooms (Pholiota adiposa), also called cinnamon caps and fat Pholiota, are known as numerisugitake mushrooms in Japan. They’re saprotrophic, sometimes parasitic mushrooms that, in the wild, grow in dense clusters on rotting wood. These mushrooms are not to be confused with a darker version of the common brown,...
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Chestnut mushrooms (Pholiota adiposa), also called cinnamon caps and fat Pholiota, are known as numerisugitake mushrooms in Japan. They’re saprotrophic, sometimes parasitic mushrooms that, in the wild, grow in dense clusters on rotting wood. These mushrooms are not to be confused with a darker version of the common brown, button or cremini mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), sometimes marketed as chestnut mushrooms because of their shape and color.
The chestnut mushroom’s scientific name gives an indication of its appearance. “Pholiota” is the Latin word for scaly, and “adiposa” comes from the Latin word “adeps,” meaning lard or grease. Chestnut mushrooms’ caps have brownish scales, with frilly white veil fragments when young, and often look slightly shaggy. And although the surface of chestnut mushroom caps can be slimy when wet, they’re only slightly greasy when dry.
Here are some characteristics to look out for to ensure you’re dealing with Pholiota adipose chestnut mushrooms and not slightly darker cremini mushrooms.
Caps – Convex brownish-yellow to rust-orange caps 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in diameter with brown scales that are denser towards the center. Younger chestnut mushrooms have frilly white veil fragments attached to the scales.
Gills – Pale yellow to tan gills turning reddish-brown to orange as spores form.
Stems – Round pale yellow to tan stems 0.2 to 0.4 inches (5 to 10 mm) in diameter and 1 to 2.5 inches (2.5 to 6 cm) tall with scales that often join at the base where they attach to the substrate.
Chestnut mushrooms taste similar to shiitake mushrooms but milder, with a distinct nutty umami flavor that gives them their name.
Their mild earthy flavor has a slightly peppery finish, and people often describe them as buttery and nutty.
But, it’s their crunchy texture, fabulous color, and long edible stems that add new dimensions to mushroom dishes. They’re often the reason that people choose to cook with chestnut mushrooms.
Can You Eat Chestnut Mushrooms?
Yes, you can eat chestnut mushrooms, and while they may be new to you, the Japanese have enjoyed them for their taste, texture, and health benefits for centuries.
Health and Nutritional Benefits of Chestnut Mushrooms
Like most other edible mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms are packed full of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
This Food Composition Database has a detailed breakdown of all the amino acids, minerals, and vitamins found in a 100g serving of chestnut mushrooms known as Numerisugitake in Japan.
Chestnut mushrooms are not only a good source of protein and other nutrients, but they also have antimicrobial and anti-tumor properties and contain lectins that help prevent the spread of certain cancer cells.
They also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidative compounds that help treat inflammation and boost the immune system.