Many people have asked me, “Can you eat raw mushrooms or do they need to be cooked?” I prefer cooked mushrooms, and here’s why

First off, I don’t really understand why they have raw mushrooms at salad bars. It’s a strange concept to me. I’ve never personally enjoyed them this way, and ultimately, mushrooms shouldn’t be eaten raw. Mushrooms contain a compound known as chitin.

Chitin is very hard—it’s found in lobster and mollusk shells— and 90% of people can’t break chitin down from a digestion standpoint. So when you’re eating raw mushrooms you are not accessing any of the nutritional or medicinal benefits that those mushrooms have to offer because of the inability to get beyond the chitin walls. 

Some people think that raw mushrooms taste good and others do not. I’ve heard many people talk about the common button mushroom and its taste resembling that of cardboard.

In the video I lined up a bunch of choice edible mushrooms that typically taste much better than the standard button mushroom when cooked. However, none of these mushrooms as good raw as they are cooked.

Can you eat raw mushrooms? Taking a bite of lion’s mane, shiitake, and yellow oyster

Lion’s mane has compounds in it that nourish the brain and the stomach. I take a bite of it raw in the video, and these beneficial qualities will be missed.

Shiitakes are a bit tastier raw than many of the other mushrooms. They contain a slight vanilla taste when raw. I could see it being tasty if added to a salad with some dressing or a marinade.

The yellow oyster reminds of a cucumber with a little zest. It’s decent, but again, much better cooked and as I mentioned, the healthful properties of these tasty mushrooms will be lost in the process of eating it raw because of the chitin walls locking it in.

Can you eat raw mushrooms? Some mushrooms you can’t even bite through while they’re raw

You will have a hard time trying to take a bite out of a reishi mushroom while it is raw. It is a very woody mushroom. Mushrooms like these need to be broken down within an extraction process in order to get its healthful benefits. People make reishi tea or tincture to do this, and have been doing so for thousands of years.

Can you eat raw mushrooms? A special note on poisonous mushrooms

It’s important to note that if you eat a poisonous mushroom raw it can still kill you because there are certain compounds that can make it through the chitin walls and these involve toxic compounds found in poisonous mushrooms, so beware.

There is another aspect to eating raw mushrooms that is worth pointing out. This information is coming from the Alliance for Natural Health. The article itself presents content from Dr. Andrew Weil. Here’s a look at this information:

“Dr. Andrew Weil says that all mushrooms are essentially indigestible if eaten raw because of their tough cell walls, and that to release their nutrients, they must be cooked. More importantly, he says, certain mushrooms contain small amounts of toxins, including a compound considered carcinogenic, which is destroyed through cooking because these compounds are not heat stable.”

The article continues with details of the compound in question. “The compound in question, agaratine, is most commonly found in the mushrooms belonging to the genus Agaricus. This includes the common white or button mushroom—your everyday supermarket variety that is commonly found raw at restaurant salad bars:”

As the article then states, agaratine is destroyed by being cooked. So here is yet another reason why, presented by the Alliance for Natural Health and Dr. Andrew Weil, it is a good idea to cook your mushrooms before eating them.

The overall recommendation for consuming mushrooms

Overall my recommendation is to always cook your mushrooms. That will lead to the greatest benefit for you in terms of tasty and healthful properties. You will likely enjoy them much better cooked as well.

There are a variety of ways that you can cook mushrooms for diversity that will connect with any meal. You can check out this article that discusses five ways to prepare mushrooms, which include sauteing, baking, broiling, and stuffing mushrooms. The article also discusses the process of preparing mushrooms before attempting to cook them in any way. This preparation method will help you clean your mushrooms without completely destroying them or impacting the taste in the process.

Do you like eating mushrooms and want to grow your own at home? We can help you with that! Try one of our edible mushroom grow kits. They are straightforward and easy to use, and you will be able to produce pounds of fresh mushrooms at home, in the garden, or even at work.

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