Hericium Erinaceus, commonly known as Lions Mane Mushroom, is a popular fungus for its believed beneficial properties, such as neuroprotective effects. Whether or not these effects are fully grounded in science is a matter of debate, but that doesn’t mean Lions Mane is not a highly sought after mushroom.
Though it’s not the most expensive mushroom on the market, Lions Mane is a little pricier than many other mushrooms. For example, there are seven kinds of oyster mushrooms that are all roughly $20/lbs. Lions Mane Mushroom, on the other hand, is closer to $25/lbs. Of course, there are some mushrooms that can price as high as $40/lbs, such as Reishi, so Lions Mane Mushroom is by no means a bank-busting option.
The region of the world you are in may affect the price significantly. For instance, Lions Mane Mushroom has been red-listed in no less than thirteen European countries due to their being poor germination, meaning any Lion’s Mane you obtained would likely have to be imported.
The time of year can also affect prices, since Lions Mane typically fruits between August and December in regions like the United States and the United Kingdom, meaning that any of the mushroom obtained outside of those months will either have to have been stored, grown out of season in an artificial setting, or imported from a region where they are in season (and not red-listed).
About Lions Mane Mushroom
The most striking thing about Lions Mane Mushrooms is its appearance. If we were to tell you that alternative names for Hericium Erinaceus include Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom, Pom Pom Mushroom, and Bearded Tooth Fungus, that should give you some idea of what this unusual mushroom looks like. You could be forgiven for thinking a picture of Lions Mane is actually a shot of a furry alien creature from an episode of Star Trek.
Lions Mane may have neuroprotective properties that would suggest it could be helpful in combatting the detrimental effects of neurodegenerative diseases and nerve injuries. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Unfortunately, there has not been enough hard research into these potential benefits to back those claims up with medical data, but there is also no evidence to suggest there are any negative effects from consuming Lions Mane Mushroom, so consuming it on the basis that it might have these positive effects should not have any downside.
The main area where consuming Lions Mane is not advised is pregnancy and lactation. There is no research into the effects of Lions Mane on pregnancy or a nursing mother, and given the importance of keeping your baby healthy, it is best to steer clear until there is some hard evidence stating that it is safe in these circumstances.
Lions Mane may not have a wealth of medical science behind it, but it has been used extensively in folk medicine in China and other parts of Asia.
How Much do Mushroom Foragers Make?
Naturally, the amount of money you can make as a mushroom forager is entirely dependant on the amount of product you can move. It is important to understand that moving the product—in this case, mushrooms—is critical. There is no use in being able to forage 250lbs worth of edible mushrooms if you can only find buyers for 20lbs of it.
One of the problems with selling mushrooms is that the freshness of that mushroom is what makes it desirable. In other words, you can’t bring an enormous haul of fungi back to your garage and hold on to it until someone wants to buy some. Fresh mushroom is the key, and that means only foraging for mushroom you can sell quite soon after.
Another factor is the expenses. For people starting a new business for the first time, it is easy to overlook certain expenses that you take for granted, but any money spent in the pursuit of a business venture needs to be factored in, and mushroom foraging is no different. A practical example of this is travel. If you can find buyers for $250 worth of mushroom that you managed to forage in a single day, that’s not a bad rate. Two hundred and fifty bucks for a single day? Sign us up.
If, however, you have to spend eight hours on the road getting your product to your prospective buyers, and you blow through $100 in gas during the course of your deliveries, suddenly that $250 doesn’t look so attractive—it just became $150 for a day and a half’s work.
Another key aspect of being a mushroom forager is forward-thinking. Anyone foraging—be it for commercial purposes or just for their own use—should be mindful of the environment, but mushroom foragers need to be particularly careful because going about their foraging in a non-sustainable way will hurt them in the long run.
Being sure not to damage mycelium beds that you harvest from—or leaving at least a third of any mushroom conks you hack off—are ways to ensure that you have plenty of product to find for a long time to come. The freshness factor we mentioned above should also help you here, since only foraging what you can sell means you are taking less at any given time, leaving more for future forages.
So, How Much?
Given all the variables in this equation—how much you can forage, what kinds of mushrooms you have access to, what your expenses are, how many buyers you can find—it is impossible for us to put a hard number on this question. That being said, at least one successful forager has managed to make the equivalent of $200 an hour!
How do You Become a Mushroom Forager?
Becoming a mushroom forager is mostly about education and experience. For most regions in the west, there are no restrictions that prevent you from going out and foraging for mushrooms, but there are things you should know in advance.
For one thing, you will need to know what kinds of mushrooms you are looking for. Restaurants are not interested in any old mushrooms, so you want to prioritize the ones that are most sought after. You also want to make sure there are no red-listed mushrooms growing in your foraging area, and if there are, be sure that you can identify them so you can steer clear of them.
It should go without saying that you will need to be prepared for the typical dangers of being out in nature, particularly if you are in any truly wild regions. Educate yourself on things like the predatory animals you may encounter and poisonous plants.
Once you have that part handled, it’s time to look at the other side of the transaction—selling your mushrooms. If possible, it helps to speak with the chef of the restaurant you are considering selling to directly. Have a sample of what you are offering, but don’t go filling up a truck bed full of mushrooms before you have someone to buy them. Be ready to reassure any prospective buyers that you will be able to meet their demands.
How Long Does Lions Mane Mushroom Last?
Like all living things, Lions Mane Mushrooms are on borrowed time once they have been picked. In truth, they were likely already dying by the time they were picked—assuming they were picked after their spores were shed—but this begs the question of how long do you have to eat your Lions Mane Mushroom before it goes bad.
Assuming you are dealing with a fresh mushroom, you typically have between three and five days to make use of it before it starts to become a less appealing prospect. This time frame assumes you are storing your mushrooms properly in a fridge. Ideally, you would store your mushrooms in a paper bag in the bottom drawer of the fridge since it is slightly warmer down there. You can slow down the drying out process by putting a damp paper towel in the bag with the mushrooms, which should act to keep them hydrated a little longer.
For the best experience, you want to consume your Lions Mane Mushroom on the same day it was harvested, which is another reason why restaurant owners prefer their mushrooms fresh.
How Much Lions Mane Should I Take Daily?
Much like our knowledge of the purported benefits of Lions Mane Mushroom on our health, there has not been sufficient research to determine what the ideal amount of daily consumption should be. In light of this hole in our knowledge, an “all things in moderation” approach would seem to be the best way to go.
Many things that are essential to our health and well being can harm us if we go overboard, so work on the assumption that Lions Mane falls under the same rules. Don’t consume it any more than you would consume any of the other commonly eaten mushrooms, and you should be fine.
Can You Eat Too Much Lions Mane?
With some exceptions, there is no reason to believe you would suffer negative side effects as a result of consuming a lot of Lions Mane Mushroom. Some animal studies have turned up no negative effects, suggesting that the mushroom is safe even at high quantities.
There are exceptions, however. For instance, there is no concrete research on the effects of the mushroom on pregnant or nursing women, so anyone who is having or has just had a baby should err on the side of caution and steer clear. Similarly, Lions Mane is a mushroom, despite its unusual appearance, so anyone with mushroom allergies should also give this one a miss.
Beyond that, our above advice of keeping things in moderation is the closest thing we have to guidelines on how much Lions Mane is safe to consume. The little research we have suggests that most people would probably get sick of eating the mushroom before they got sick from eating the mushroom.
Are Mushroom Kits Worth the Effort?
As a general rule, mushroom kits are not worth it on a small scale. Granted, if you have no other practical way of getting a continuous supply of mushrooms, a kit is better than nothing. But the yield from a kit tends to be less than impressive, and it is not as simple as setting things up and leaving it for a while, then coming back to harvest your mushrooms when they’re ready.
There are a lot of environmental factors that come into play before mushrooms will grow, and you will need to simulate these conditions in your growing setup. For example, lower carbon dioxide levels typically lead to mushroom pinning, as the fungus takes the lower CO2 as a sign that it has reached the surface of whatever substrate it is growing in. There are also seasonal aspects to consider—seasonal aspects that will differ depending on the type of mushroom being grown.
If you have access to a natural source of mushrooms, you will struggle to do better than that source with a mushroom kit. And, if you are planning to grow mushrooms in commercial quantities, you will need more than what a kit can offer you. In truth, the only time a mushroom kit is worth it is if you have no other options.
Do Mushrooms Grow Back After the First Harvest?
Every mushroom is different, but for the most part, the answer is yes; mushrooms do grow back after the first harvest. In order to understand why this is, it helps to understand how mushrooms happen in the first place.
A common misconception among people who are not familiar with mushrooms is that the mushroom itself is the fungus and that it grows much as a regular plant would. In reality, fungi and plants are completely different classes of life, so parallels are not easy to draw between the two. That being said, if you were going to make an analogy between mushrooms and trees, the mushroom that you see above ground is more akin to the apples growing on an apple tree than it is to the tree itself.
Mushrooms are the fruiting body of the larger fungus organism, which often remains unseen within the substrate through which it is growing. This larger organism consists of thread-like growths that spread through the substrate—often soil or a tree—and, when the timing is right, begin pinning, which is the process of sprouting little button-like growths. If the conditions are right, those buttons will grow into fully-fledged mushrooms, shed their spores, and then die off and decompose.
This process can happen several times as long as the structure of the organism is undamaged, and that is why mushrooms usually grow back after their first harvest.
Do Mushrooms Grow Faster in the Dark or Light?
As a general rule, mushrooms grow faster in the dark than they do in the light. That being said, this does not mean you want to lock your mushrooms in a dark room and never let them see the light of day. Light is necessary for the growing process, but you should be careful about how and when you use it. For example, too much bright light at an early stage can lead to premature fruiting or slowed growth. On the other hand, the mycelium that will eventually go on to sprout mushrooms derives energy from the light, so you need light to ensure a reasonable growth rate.
It is typically best to establish a regular day and night cycle for your mushrooms. If you are growing them in a region that they are native to, simply putting them in a room with a window is a good approach.
How Long do Mushrooms Take to Grow on Average?
The growing process for mushrooms is more complicated than most people realize, which makes answering a question like this a little… messy. The mushrooms themselves are the fruiting body of mycelium, which can be thought of as a root-like structure—though, as we mentioned above, this is not strictly accurate for the way mushrooms work.
Mushrooms only sprout when conditions are right, and those conditions are a combination of the amount of substrate that is colonized by the mycelium, the environmental conditions around it, and the level of carbon dioxide in the air. The process of getting from inoculation to pinning can take weeks, but once you are there, mushrooms typically take around three to five days to grow, assuming the conditions are optimal. Depending on the type of mushroom, your mycelium could continue to sprout mushrooms for as much as sixty days, with less than a week’s waiting time in between each crop.
Despite its exotic appearance, Lions Mane Mushroom is not particularly expensive—being roughly around the average price for desirable mushrooms. This may be surprising given all the health benefits that folk medicine claims Lions Mane has, but it is important to remember that the science has not caught up with this mushroom yet, so we have no hard evidence to back up these claims. We do have limited evidence that for most of us—pregnant, nursing, and allergic people aside—there is no reason to avoid Lions Mane, so why not give it a try!