Since ancient times, mushroom foraging has been a common tradition, especially in Slavic and Baltic cultures. Even now, avid mushroom hunters have trained their eyes to identify edible mushrooms and know well enough what poisonous fungi to avoid.
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Mushrooms emerge in different seasons, from February to May, from April to November, and some can be found all year round. And since they are no longer being foraged to combat hunger, the habit became a delightful pastime with family and friends.
The average mushroom price barely reaches $2 per pound. But have you ever hoped to find a mushroom that could cost even a thousand dollars per pound?
Maybe your region is rich in chanterelles, or there are morels hiding on the edges of aspen trees in your forest?
This article will tell you everything you need to know to find exotic and pricey mushrooms.
10 Most Expensive Mushrooms In the World
We have collected here the 10 most expensive mushrooms you can find in the world. Some of them are so rare you can only find them high above sea level, while others haven’t been studied enough to be cultivated.
Price: $12 – $24 per Pound
A staple of Asian cuisine, Shiitake is a brownish mushroom easily found on logs and grown indoors. They are widely used in Asian dishes and are now in favor of Western chefs, too.
Although Shiitake mushrooms are native to Japan, Korea, and China, they are now cultivated all over the world. You can buy them fresh or dried in almost any store.
Shiitake mushrooms have a delicate but meaty and chewy texture; some say they can even detect a woody flavor in those mushrooms. Such a powerful ingredient will certainly add a kick to your cooking.
A Shiitake mushroom costs the least out of all on the list. The price ranges between $12 to $24 per pound.
It may not be the most expensive mushroom, but definitely one of the healthiest. A Shiitake mushroom contains lots of natural copper, eritadenine, and polysaccharides.
It means Shiitake is good for your bones, it can reduce cholesterol in the blood and help the immune system.
Price: $8 – $36 per Pound
An extraordinary fungal species that sways with the wind is the Lion’s Mane. Lion’s Mane is not your typical mushroom with a defined stem and round cap. The shroom looks like a balloon, covered with long “hairs.” Because of its look, the fungus is also called a pompon or Bearded Tooth Mushroom.
Lion’s Mane is often found on dying or dead logs in North America, Europe, and Asia. It’s also easily cultivated and, therefore, available in many places.
Its price isn’t much higher than that of Shiitake but can reach $36 per pound.
You find it in slightly different hues. The younger the fungus is, the white it stays. As it ages, the color shifts to brownish.
Lion’s Mane has the potential to improve blood sugar control, help the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
Price: $55 – $70 per Pound
Finding Porcini mushrooms isn’t an easy task. They are harvested in the wild and commonly found among pine and spruce trees.
The fungi are sometimes called Boletus Edulis or King Bolete, which also translates as a piglet.
These mushrooms are found in Italy and throughout Europe. But you may be lucky to spot them in North America.
Since they are found in the wild, their price reaches $70 per pound. Porcini mushrooms are usually dried and then sold worldwide.
Price: $108 per Pound
Another interesting-looking mushroom species is Enoki. The mushrooms grow very close to each other, making them look like a bunch of bean sprouts or cauliflower.
Apart from growing as a bouquet, they have a distinctively long thin stem and round cap.
The mushroom species is harvested in Japan, China, and Korea. Hence, they are often used in stir-fried dishes. Now, they are available all over Europe and North America for a price of $108 per pound.
They are very easy to cook and won’t overwhelm your palette. Enoki mushrooms add a nutty and slightly fruity taste to soups, noodle dishes, and even sushi.
Price: $225 per Pound
If you are looking for a mushroom with a strong spicy flavor, try chanterelles. You may find them in different colors of yellow and white; however, the most popular chanterelles are golden.
Chanterelles are one of the most expensive mushrooms because they are very hard to cultivate. These mushrooms thrive in a few days’ rain followed by heat and humidity. Recreating their ideal environment is challenging, to say the least.
Chefs strongly advise cooking chanterelles all the way through. When eaten raw, they may make you sick.
Price: $254 per Pound
Morel mushrooms have a very distinctive head, resembling a natural sponge.
If you spot the ruffled cone-shaped head in the wild, keep it a secret. Morels tend to grow in the same place year after year. They are also easily foraged but not so easily cultivated.
Morels are common in the USA from March to May, specifically in the Midwest. Although the fungi species are so unique-looking, mushroom hunters spend days locating them in the wild. Morel mushrooms blend into the leaves and between trees spotlessly.
It is easier to purchase dried morels, but their price can be as high as $254 per pound. However, you may try to find fresh morels for about $90 a pound. “Try” because stores seldom sell them fresh.
As for taste, morels have a nutty flavor, more intense than Shiitake. But because they are small in size, chefs usually serve them as garnish.
Price: $800 – $900 per Pound
Rarely available in stores, a black truffle mushroom is costly to cultivate and difficult to find.
Traditionally, female pigs are employed to forage the forest, and now even dogs are trained to locate them.
Although a black truffle mushroom is primarily a European delicacy, Australia and the USA are trying to cultivate them, too. Overseas countries pay double the price for the transportation of such precious species of mushrooms. Hence, the price of $900 per pound.
Black truffles tend to grow at the base of a mature oak tree. So, foraging them is a complicated issue, not to mention finding them in the wild. The complexity of bringing the mushroom to the consumer is what also adds up to the final price.
Besides the chefs’ favorite – Tuber Melanosporum, also known as the French Perigord truffle – there are also variations. Those are the Burgundy, Spanish, Chinese truffles, and more.
Price: $1,000 – $2,000 per Pound
As the name suggests, Matsutake is an Asian delicacy and one of the most expensive mushrooms you can find.
They are praised for their unique spicy flavor and fruity aroma. They are found under red pine trees, and their habitat is also quite noticeable in taste.
The fungi are ideal for cooking chowder, gohan, and noodle dishes. When peeled and cleaned, Matsutake can be eaten raw.
Since the Matsutake mushroom is foraged in Japan and hasn’t been cultivated properly yet, it is one of the most expensive mushrooms. Its price reaches $2,000 per pound.
Matsutake mushrooms are known to kill pine trees. And as the number of pines reduces, so does the number of Matsutake mushrooms. This may well flag the fungus as an endangered species.
European White Truffles
Price: $3,600 per Pound
The second most expensive mushrooms are white truffles. Their price is justified by the fact that it is so difficult to harvest them. It takes determination to scout for White truffles all over Italy and France.
It goes to the extreme of selling trained truffle-sniffing canines to locate the treasure.
Since white truffles are so scarce, their price is $3,600 per pound and higher, depending on the harvest.
White truffles are one of not so many rare mushrooms that people haven’t learned to cultivate.
Price: $63,000 per Pound
The Yartsa Gunbu mushrooms aren’t only the most expensive mushrooms out there but also have a peculiar story.
Yartsa is believed to be a natural aphrodisiac, as pointed out in ancient Tibetan records. The fungus is said to bring the delight of thousands of beautiful women for men who consume yartsa.
The Himalayan Viagra is also praised for other qualities. Healers have been using it as a substitute for herbs to cure tiredness, chronic coughs, anemia, and other conditions.
However, yartsa hasn’t always been used for medical purposes. The locals used to brew teas and add yartsa to soups before the demand rose and made the fungus unaffordable.
Apart from potential health benefits, yartsa gunbu grows in an interesting way. Its literal translation is “summer grass, winter worm.” Here’s why:
The fungus infects the caterpillars that shed their skin in the late summer. This makes the caterpillars vulnerable and makes it easier for the fungus to infect the larvae. After killing/feeding off the host, the fungus grows from inside the carcass.
No wonder Tibetan people thought of yartsa as a living worm in the past.
Cultivating yartsa gunbu seems to be almost impossible since its ideal habitat is between 3,00-4,500 meters above sea level throughout the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.
The rarity and uniqueness of this fungus make it the most expensive mushroom you can find. It costs $2,000 an ounce, and a pound can be around $63,000.
The reason why some mushrooms are so expensive isn’t because of their incomparable taste but sometimes the rarity or difficulty of cultivating. Their scarcity is what often makes them the most expensive mushrooms.
Some wild mushrooms like yartsa gunbu, truffles, and matsutake haven’t been studied enough to calculate in a controlled environment. Mushrooms like morels and truffles are almost impossible to locate. But when someone does, they make a living out of it.
Expensive mushrooms aren’t usually sold in regular stores. They are rather sold to chefs at Michelin restaurants to cook some of their most exquisite dishes.
One exception can be yartsa gunbu, which is used as a cure for many illnesses. However, taking it in big amounts may be fatal for the human organism.
Overall, the list of the most expensive mushrooms includes ten fungi species:
- Yartsa Gunbu ($63,000 a pound)
- White Truffle ($3,600 a pound)
- Matsutake Mushrooms ($1,000 – $2,000 a pound)
- Black Truffles ($800 – $900 a pound)
- Morels ($254 a pound)
- Chanterelles ($225 a pound)
- Enoki Mushrooms ($108.00 a pound)
- Porcini Mushrooms ($55 – $70 a pound)
- Lion’s Mane ($8 – $36 a pound)
- Shiitake Mushrooms ($12 – $24 a pound)
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the prices of highly sought-after mushrooms like truffles?
Highly sought-after mushrooms such as truffles command a premium price in the market. The cost varies depending on the type of truffle and season, but black truffles typically range from $100 to $600 per pound, while the more rare white truffles can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per pound. Keep in mind that these prices can fluctuate based on scarcity and demand.
How do morel mushroom prices compare to other expensive varieties?
Morels are another expensive variety, though they are generally more affordable than truffles. The price of fresh morels varies between $30 and $60 per pound, while dried morels can cost around $100 to $150 per pound. However, prices may rise during years of low yield or increased demand.
What factors contribute to the high cost of caterpillar fungus mushrooms?
Caterpillar fungus, also known as Cordyceps, is particularly pricey due to its rarity, labor-intensive harvesting process, and traditional use in Chinese medicine. The cost per pound can range from $20,000 to $40,000. Harvesters must search high mountainous regions for the fungus, and the harvesting season is limited to just a few months each year. These factors contribute to its high price.
Why are gucchi mushrooms considered a luxury?
Gucchi mushrooms, also known as Morchella esculenta, are known for their unique flavor and texture, making them a luxury ingredient in high-end restaurants and food markets. They are also challenging to cultivate and thus are mostly available only in the wild, typically growing in narrow geographic regions. These factors make gucchi mushrooms more expensive than many other varieties.
What makes oyster mushroom prices fluctuate?
Oyster mushroom prices can fluctuate for several reasons, including seasonality, regional variations, and supply chains. These mushrooms are relatively easy to cultivate, so they are generally more affordable than rarer varieties. However, they can still fetch high prices when demand is high or when the supply is low due to unfavorable weather conditions or disruption in the supply chain.
How does the rarity of a mushroom affect its market value?
The rarity of a mushroom has a significant impact on its market value. Rare mushrooms are often prized for their unique flavors, textures, and potential health benefits. As the supply is limited, the demand for these mushrooms tends to drive up their prices. Additionally, the difficulty in cultivation and harvesting also contribute to the high market value of rare mushrooms.