Food - Drink
Can Eating Mushroom Stems Make You Sick?
By KAREN GRECO
Mushrooms are a delicious and nutritious staple in many a home cook's kitchen. From stuffed mushrooms to vegetarian meatloaf, there are seemingly endless ways to prepare your favorite fungi, but cooks who want to avoid food waste as much as possible may wonder if one can safely eat mushroom stems as well as the caps.
For some mushrooms, like king oysters and enoki, the stems are the most desirable part, on top of being safe to eat. The stems of most other mushrooms may be a bit fibrous, but are still perfectly edible; however, one kind of mushroom stem that needs far more prep than others are shiitake stems, which are particularly tough and hard.
Shiitake stems are not only tough, but if left uncooked, they can make you sick with a toxic polysaccharide called lentinan, which can cause welt-like bruises or an allergic reaction in lentinan-sensitive people. These stems can still be consumed safely if cooked thoroughly; you can try making them into vegan jerky or mushroom broth.