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What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Wood Ear Mushrooms

Wood Ear mushrooms at the Pasadena Farmers Market

Felicia FriesemaWood Ear mushrooms at the Pasadena Farmers Market

Lili Baltazar, the "queen of greens" at ABC Rhubarb Farms, started offering mushrooms at her stand a few years ago, filling in a gaping mushroom hole at the Pasadena market and giving mushroom vendors at other markets something to ponder. At first the selection she offered was pretty familiar: small and large shitakes, creminis, white buttons, and oyster mushrooms. Then last year she put out a basket of a deep brown and almost purple fungus that we almost didn't recognize. They're back again this summer and will be here until fall.

What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Wood Ear Mushrooms

Felicia Friesema

Wood Ear mushrooms aren't usually available fresh, even at your local Asian grocer. That's because once harvested you must either use them quickly or set them up for drying. Their shelf life while fresh is brief, but the texture is their major claim to fame. Even when cooked they have a pleasing and snappy crunchiness, providing a textural counterpoint to softer foods. The more common pairing is with tofu. But we've found it sublime diced in risottos or julienned with broccoli stalks and soft noodles. Their flavor is subtle to non-existent, imparting only a hint of earthiness to dishes.

What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Wood Ear Mushrooms

Felicia Friesema

The mushrooms don't have any stems or gills like other edible fungi. Rather, they have an almost fan-like growing habit (hence the "ear") around a central growth nexus. The top side of the fungus is smooth and dark while the underside is velvety and almost grey. Choose for specimens that are dry on both sides and use within a few days of purchase to capitalize on that unique texture.

What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Wood Ear Mushrooms

Felicia Friesema

Felicia Friesema will be leading a special tour of the Hollywood Farmers Market on August 8th. Space is limited.

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Hollywood Certified Farmers Market
miles

Ivar Ave. & Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

323-463-3171

www.farmernet.com