Maitake Mushroom – Grifola frondosa – Hen of the Woods may best be known for its cancer-fighting properties. It contains grifolan, an important beta-glucan polysaccharide (molecule composed of many sugar molecules linked together). Grifolan has been shown to activate macrophages, a type of cell consider the heavy artillery: of the immune system, explains Larry A. Walker, Ph.D., R.D., author of Natural products update, published in Drug Topics, June 1997. D-fraction, one of the polysaccharides in Maitake mushroom, also energized the cellular immune system and alsoo valued for it’s health benefits due to the amount of fiber, protein, and vitamins B and C that it contains.
Hen of the Woods is also a premium eating mushroom. It is succulent, large and firm in texture, this mushroom has a strong earthy or musty aroma, providing a flavor that is bold, somewhat nutty and very similar to a Portobello. The Maitake texture is succulent and semi-firm. They are fruity, earthy and spicy in flavor and absorb companion flavors readily when cooked. Maitake mushrooms are a versatile mushroom and may be eaten raw or cooked. Maitakes can be roasted, grilled, baked, deep fried, sautéed and stir fried. Hen of the Woods mushrooms pair well with other wild mushrooms, bitter greens, shallot, garlic, thyme, potatoes, cheese, especially Parmesan and Gruyere, eggs, bacon, shellfish, beef, anchovies, vinegars and cream.