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The small Shoro mushrooms fruit just at the surface of the soil, nestled among the pine needles. They are globular in shape and when young the skin is white, turning a fawn brown with age. The mushroom has no true cap and no stem, like a truffle. Shoro mushrooms have a mellow flavor and pine-scented aroma. They are prized for their crisp texture and sponge-like flesh which can absorb the flavors of many dishes. Use caution when trying to identify wild mushrooms; unless there is a 100% certainty of a mushroom’s identification, do not eat or touch it.
Shoro are harvested in the spring and fall months.
Shoro mushrooms are members of the Rhizopogonaceae family and are scientifically known as Rhizopogon rubescens. The mushroom has a mycorrhizal (or symbiotic) association with conifers and can be found nestled into the ground around the trunks of certain pine trees. Known as “false truffles” they appear very similar to the more expensive mushroom variety. It has been said that due to the rarity of the Shoro mushroom, the price for just over two pounds (one kg) can be up to $550USD.
Mushrooms are the only vegetable with the ability to convert the sun’s rays into vitamin D. Mushrooms are a good source of this vitamin.
Shoro mushrooms are often found in Japanese soups, such as Chawanmushi or Suimono. The false truffle pairs well with cream and eggs. Use them in marinated dishes, pastas, and miso soups. Shoro have a short shelf life, thus it is best to eat them as soon as they are harvested. Slimy and dark brown flesh indicates that the Shoro are old.
Today Shoro mushrooms are regarded as a delicacy and they are usually used in seasonal dishes at upscale Japanese restaurants. In Japanese, Shoro means pine drops.
Shoro mushrooms are native to Japan. First appearing in records dating back to the 17th century (Edo era) in Japan, Shoro were widely consumed in the 19th century as a delicacy and could be found in abundance in the Osaka and Kyoto districts. The mushrooms were transported to New Zealand through its pine tree hosts implanted with Shoro mushroom spores, and have been successfully growing there since the late 1990s. These truffle-like mushrooms can be found in the coastal pine forests of the United States, Europe and Australia. The variety of Shoro mushroom found in New Zealand has a taste and flavor most like its counterparts in the United States; this is likely because its pine tree host, Pinus radiata, is native to California.