Snow Ear mushroom: Makes a great chicken "noodle" soup! (and may be healthy)


The Living Force
My family bought some of this at a local small store that sells imported asian foods. We rehydrated it in water, cut out the hard spot in the middle, shredded it, and cooked it with some chicken thighs. It surprised our mom who said it tasted just like her mom's chicken noodles. in consistency this stuff is like egg noodles that never soften past al-dente, and the flavor is almost nonexistent. Anyone else have some experience with this stuff?

Our package was unappealingly labeled as "white fungus", an you can find info about it under that name, but it goes by others: Tremella fuciformis, snow fungus, snow ear, silver ear fungus, white jelly mushroom, silver tree-ear fungus (translation of a common Chinese name for it), among others.

It has a laundry-list of claimed health benefits and is both a staple food and medicinal in China especially. I could not manage to find any mention of negative or toxic effects. Apparently the fungus body is high in collagen, in addition to its other claimed benefits, and is thus often claimed to be good for the joints and skin.

Here is the best collection of info in one place that I've found regarding this fungus and its uses, although of course it doesn't cite research:

Snow Fungus

Tremella fuciformis

Common names:
Bai Mu Erh
Silver Tree-ear Fungus
Snow Fungus
White Jelly-leaf
White Muer
White Tree-ear
Wood Ear Fungus

Snow fungus is one of the wobbly varieties of fungus that is commonly found on various types of trees especially in the Asian countries and also other warm climates across the globe. It is white in color and almost transparent. Snow fungus is commonly knows as wood ear and derives this name from its appearance on decomposing logs, which are an ideal breeding ground for this variety of mushroom. The superior quality of snow fungus, however, is light yellowish-white in color and feels like mucilage when touched. The Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine practitioners have been using snow fungus for over 2000 years now to heal various ailments. It is commonly used to enhance body liquids, to cure dry coughs and also heart palpitations or the trembling nervous system. At the same time, snow fungus is commonly used as a stimulating herb and also as a beauty augmenting medicine. It is widely used for the betterment of the skin tone.

Cultivation of snow fungus is not a very old practice as earlier the mushroom was mainly collected from the nature. However, the wild variety of snow fungus was not rare, but also smaller in size, almost like that of a golf ball. Besides, since snow fungus was rare in the past, it was highly expensive and only members of the royal and noble families could pay for it. For many years, it was commonly believed that since snow fungus grew on trees, it drew its nourishment or sustenance from the wood or decomposing logs.

For several years, people could not farm snow fungus and despite efforts to cultivate snow fungus, they were compelled to collect the mushroom from the natural habitat. Gradually, there were researches to find out why this variety of mushroom cannot be cultivated on wood or decaying logs like Oyster mushrooms, the pom pon mushroom, enoki or shiitake. Another difficulty was that when snow fungus is cultivated without wood, it has a tendency to grow like a variety of yeast. In such cases the cultivators discarded the yeasts or the sub-cultures considering them to be impurities. They were of the opinion that this yeast was just another variety of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (the yeast used by the bakers and brewers) or Candida albicans.

Finally, scientists discovered that the snow fungus species was nothing but mycoparasites clarifying that snow fungus does not consume wood for sustenance, but consumed another variety of fungus that ate wood. It was also found that the host fungus in this case is Hypoxylon archeri, one of the black Pyrenomycetes that is linked to Daldinia concentrica (carbon balls) and Xylaria polymorpha (dead man's fingers). Incidentally, all these fungi develop or grow on decaying wood. Studies on this subject are still on and scientists believe that it is likely that snow fungus does not parasitize Hypoxylon archeri. On the contrary, it transforms the wood or log into a variety that can be used for sustenance.

Cultivation of snow fungus is comparatively simple provided one is aware of the environmental science of the mushroom's growth. The first step includes preparation of substrate normally using sawdust additions with cellulose and some kind of grains like millets. In the next phase, the substrate is packed inside synthetic bags and uncontaminated or sterilized. Once the substrate is cooled it is vaccinated with the mycelium of Hypoxylon archeri and left undisturbed for some weeks so that it is able to grow. And it is during this period that the Tremella culture is inoculated into the immunized substrata. When there is substantial growth, the plastic bags containing the inoculated substrata are place in conditions that would yield the desired results. Normally, they are put in high humid conditions in adequate warmth. A few weeks later you will find snowball-type groups of Tremella produced on the openings or holes made in the plastic bags. Once this is complete, most of the mushroom is dried for sale later. Significantly, the snow fungus has the capability to re-hydrate and regain its original consistency and taste soon and appear to be like fresh.

Parts used



Having properties of a protective tonic, snow fungus combats infections particularly that which are persistent in nature. In addition, the mushroom has numerous medicinal benefits. During researches scientists have discovered that snow fungus has qualities that fights tumor growth, reduces the intensity of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or harmful cholesterol, safeguards the liver, combats swellings and irritations and also retards the aging process. If someone consumes snow fungus habitually the wrinkles, freckles and stress marks on his/her face will vanish. However, this aspect of snow fungus has not been proved scientifically.

Snow fungus has numerous other health benefits and recent researches have shown that it is especially useful in healing atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and even certain cancerous growths. Below are detailed descriptions of the same.

Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure: Physicians in Japan use snow fungus to heal as well as thwart atherosclerosis, a disease where cholesterol accumulates into the plaques inside the arteries. Hence, physicians avert the disorder by using snow fungus to lower the cholesterol levels in the blood. Although this practice has been continuing for years, so far only one medical examination has established this function of snow fungus. On the contrary, scientific studies on the infection combating quality of snow fungus polysaccharides have established that this variety of mushroom is beneficial in preserving the cholesterol concentration in the cell coatings. It may be noted here that cholesterol is required in the cell linings with the aim to pull it out from the blood tributaries.

Cancer: Several scientific researches conducted on snow fungus have discovered and established that polysaccharides contained in snow fungus is a perfect input that match the receptor locations on particular impervious cells. This function of snow fungus enhances secretion of interferon and interleukin-2 (IL-2) – two vital immune system compounds – and incites the manufacture of germ consuming macrophages. Snow fungus also has the quality to improve and enhance the actions of natural killer (NK) cells and the efficiency of antibodies. Most importantly, snow fungus also lowers the speed at which cancer spreads in the body. It may be noted here that in order to develop and increase, tumors require setting up their own blood vessel arrangement inside the affected area and the chemicals found in snow fungus frustrate a blood compound known as platelet - activating factor (PAF) that reduces the possibilities of blood to thicken or clot and gyrate a fibrin net that aids formation of blood vessels to serve the swellings.

Examinations in the laboratory have show that extracts from snow fungus eliminate cervical cancer cells and also those that are taken from other forms of tumors. It is a well-known fact that snow fungus extracts help in sensitizing the cervix and uterus to emission healing and makes the remedy more effectual. Preventing leucopenia or depleted white blood cell count in patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation healing for cancer is one of the most important uses of snow fungus and its derivatives.

Patients or people desiring to have snow fungus can avail it as an extract in an over-the-counter medicine known as Yin Mi Pian. Most importantly, snow fungus can be consumed as a staple diet as like all other jelly fungi; it does not have any toxic properties.
I second that the texture would be fantastic for some kind of pseudonoodle in a soup. I'll have to try it sometime. Unfortunately I came down with food poisoning from a meal that had this fungus in it recently, so I may be fighting some maladaptive aversion to it the next time I see it on my plate. :lol:
I can relate. Years ago a stomach bug came to bear on the same night that I had eaten lasagna, and that removed it sharply from my list of favorite foods. So in my case it was an adaptive aversion but not necessarily an adaptive cause for the aversion. ;D

Here is a most curious thing: The next day after eating this soup, an infection I have at the base of a tooth reduced in inflammation to almost nothing, and my urine was almost clear after a night's sleep, before I had had any water. I had just had a smoke, which sometimes triggers a restroom break, but that's all. I think I noticed unusually clear urine one time like this when I was just starting smoking, but not after a night's sleep. So it may attest to it's immune-enhancing and liver-aiding properties? It certainly encourages me to give it a try as part of my work to fight off the infection.
Okay, I finally got around to ordering some Snow Ear online, and thought I'd share the two I decided to try. These are the most reasonably priced sources I could find, on Amazon at least. I didn't find anything good on other websites. One thing to note when getting this stuff is that a deeper yellow/golden color is supposed to be good, because that means it hasn't been bleached for appearance.

This first link sounds like it comes as multiple smaller packets of compressed dry fungus, put in a single package. Mine has arrived, but I haven't opened it yet. Reviews suggest that this is a high quality source, and also has the best price per weight. I suspect that compressing the fungus and putting it in stackable boxes makes the shipping much more efficient, as it is a very dry and light product otherwise.
"Fortune - Compressed Premium Quality White Snow Fungus Mushroom - 8.8 Oz - (Tremella Fuciformis) - Unbleached"

This comes in a fairly large sealed bag, and will fit into two or three 1-gallon zip-bags. It is unbleached as well. This contains whole mushrooms broken into smaller pieces
"Cauliflower Mushroom, 1 LB Bag"

To prepare, you rehydrate it in water until it regains its gelatinous texture (you can't over-hydrate it), then cut away the "root", the harder, darker area toward the center of the mushroom which has a texture sort of like hard cartilage. Then it can be used in a variety of ways. Some use it in salads or stir-fries, and it works well pretty much anywhere you would use pasta. Good for soups, and it will never turn to mush, unlike pasta!

The only concern is that it is mainly a Chinese product. One page claimed that the producers tended to be up in the more mountainous areas away from pollution problem zones, but I don't know where to look to find that comment again, and the mushrooms are more native to the tropics, so not sure what to think.

Here is an interesting article I just found with some additional information (by the way, apparently sodium hyaluronate is a compound found in connective tissues that has high lubrication and water-retention ability):
As mentioned in an earlier post for Sevani Rose Hyarulonic Age Defying Tonique and the oddly named Paranornormal EFX, Tremella Fuciformis is a genus of fungi in the family Tremellacea that has water-retention capabilities supposedly superior to hyaluronic acid. Not only is the jelly like fungi a source of vitamin D, it’s also a free radical scavenger that enhances the body's own superoxide dismutase. This particular form of mushroom seems to be cropping up in loads of cosmetic products lately and is found in Chella’s Anti Fatigue Eye Mask Kit as well as Master Protocol 7, which made the Five Best Anti Aging Serums of 2011 list.

Tremella Fuciformis has been given common names such as snow fungus or silver ear fungus and is largely found in the tropics. The mushroom has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine where it is traditionally used in sweet dishes. While it is known to be virtually tasteless, it has a gelatinous texture and considered to be a highly nutritious food. Its supposed medicinal benefits are derived from more than 70% dietary fiber, including healthful polysaccharides. It is said that Yang Guifei (719-756), Imperial Consort during the Tang Dynasty and one of the most beautiful women in Chinese history, cited Tremella among her beauty secrets.

Despite being a parasititic mushroom, I like that it is a non-toxic, natural alternative to sodium hyaluronate. It is used in P&G’s SK-II Skin Care Products, and in brands by Kanebo and La Prairie’s Advanced Marine Biology Night Solution to moisturize, revitalize and hydrate the skin.

The company Med Myco Ltd. in Israel extracts a bio-active substance from the edible mushroom called glucuronoxylomannan. The formulation is said to be anti-inflammatory, free of pH dependence with no contraindications or skin reactions. According to one study, it even inhibits melanin. The study found that when the polysaccharide was isolated from a hot water extract of a Tremella mushroom without adding a chemical agent, it actually inhibited melanin formation with an inhibition ratio of 59.7%. This is a much better effect on skin lightening when compared to similar brightening agents such as such as Arbutin, Kojic acid and Vitamin C, when tested by the same method. Another study found that agents containing extracts of Tremella Fuciformis also have a potential stimulating effect on cell growth resulting in accelerated wound healing. A sterilized paste made from the fungus was applied to burn wounds immediately after injury an in all cases, the mushroom extract significantly reduced erythema resulting from the wounds.

Tremella Fuciformis can be used to hydrate and potentially lighten spots as well as heal the epidermal layer of the skin. With more consumers looking to natural ingredients in skin care formulations, I think you’ll be hearing more about this gelatinous mushroom.

I don't think that it makes sense to inhibit melanin, but that's referring to the extracted compound being used in skin products. Maybe a reason not to go overboard eating the stuff, though, especially if you live in the (sub)tropics! ;)

Since this mushroom is already somewhat cartilage-like, it makes me think it might be good to put in a bone-broth soup for additional health effects, especially when an immune boost is desired.

[Edit: Since this got long, decided to add a line break to space things better]
Top Bottom