Wild and Cultivated
Edible wild mushrooms appear spontaneously in nature during the autumn and spring, in woods and forests where they find favourable conditions for their development. Wild mushrooms are increasingly valued and sought after by markets worldwide. In Portugal, there has been a significant increase in activities related to wild and/or cultivated mushrooms, and it is now an expanding sector.
Mushrooms are fructifications of fungi, organisms that are fundamental to forest systems due to the role they play in nutrient and water cycles and in the sustainability of trees as living beings.
Since they are not vegetables but fungi, the cultivation of mushrooms obeys specific technical parameters. And, as in the plant kingdom, which encompasses a huge number of produce of which several varieties are marketed, there are several different species of fungi, some varieties of which are sold commercially.
Harvest for commercial purposes requires deep knowledge (traditional or technical) to ensure the correct identification of the species and proper picking. Some types of mushroom have no gastronomic use, and some toxic species can be confused with edible mushrooms, causing severe problems or even death if eaten.
Although there are more than 60 edible species in the Iberian Peninsula, the ones with a consolidated market in Europe are:
Black Truffle (Tuber melanosporum);
Bolete (Boletus edulis, Boletus pinophilus, Boletus aereus and Boletus aestivalis);
Red Pine Mushroom (Lactarius deliciosus);
Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius);
Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides);
Yellow Foot (Cantharellus tubaeformis and C. lutescens);
Caesar's mushroom (Amanita caesarea);
Morel mushroom (Morchella esculenta and M. esculenta).
On the other hand, several studies have focused on the growth of a large group of species under controlled conditions, called cultivated mushrooms. The trade of these species is characterized by the increasing use of technologies that allow high production volumes and by an efficient distribution and marketing chain, resulting in high competitiveness. There are different mushroom cultivation techniques, depending on the species to be produced:
- Semi-intensive (cultivation in logs, associated with shitake);
- Intensive or industrial (cultivation in production units or factories).
The picking of wild mushrooms is clearly the less expensive alternative.
In addition to their use in gastronomy, due to their nutritional value, mushrooms are also used for medicinal purposes, because of the high diversity of chemicals they contain, and even in dyeing, as a source of natural dye for textile fibres.
We provide in this section several relevant documents regarding Strawberry Tree Fruit.