White fungus (tremella fuciformisis) is also known as snow fungus. It is commercially cultivated due to it's popularity in Chinese cuisine and medicine. It is wildly found on the dead branches of broadleaf trees. In Mandarin Chinese, it is called silver ear or Bai Mu Er. Snow fungus is a white, nearly translucent, "trembling" fungus throughout Asia and in warmer climates worldwide. The fungus gets the common name of wood ear for the way it looks on the decaying logs on which it grows. Good-quality snow fungus has a pale, yellowish-white color and a mucilagelike texture. Chinese and Japanese herbalists have used snow fungus for more than 2,000 years, primarily to increase fluids in the body, for dry coughs, and for palpitations. It has been used as a tonic herb and as a beauty enhancer to improve the complexion.
White fungus is known for its medicinal benefits, namely anti-inflammatory. In Chinese families, it is commonly used in soups. It is eaten because it nourishes the body, heals dry coughs, clears heat in the lungs and keeps skin young. In traditional Chinese medicine, Snow Fungus is listed in the highest category of herbs, with indications including:
â?Clearing heat and moistening dryness
â?Nourishing the brain and enhancing beauty
Snow fungus is an immune stimulant that may help fight infection as seen in cell studies. Laboratory studies have found that it also demonstrates lowers levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol, protects the liver, and fights inflammation, and that it may slow the ageing process.
Benefits of snow fungus for specific health conditions include the following:
Cardiovascular health– Snow Fungus is eaten to help prevent atherosclerosis in Japan and provides support for the cardiovascular system by:
â?Helping maintain the health of blood-vessel walls
â?Helping prevent clots and enhance circulation
In this respect its actions are similar to the closely related Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula /Auricularia polytricha).
Anti-ageing– As well as their benefits for the cardiovascular system, Snow Fungus’ polysaccharides combine a number of other anti-ageing properties:
â?Increasing the superoxide dismutase activity of the brain and liver.
â?Promoting nerve growth
â?Assisting with improving learning and reducing memory deficits
â?Supporting skin-health, including as a moisturizing agent in cosmetic preparations
Protection from radiation– Snow Fungus polysaccharide-based products are used in China to help patients undergoing radiotherapy by:
â?Supporting the immune system
â?Maintaining white blood cell counts
â?Alleviating skin dryness and redness
When it is dried it is yellow in color. The color changes to white once it have been soaked in water. White fungus should be covered with water as it expands considerably. Soaking time depends on how tightly packed the fungus florets are. Dense white fungus like the one shown in the picture above can be soaked in cold water overnight. Lose white fungus florets can be soaked as fast as 15 – 30 minutes.
To speed up the soaking process, soak the white fungus for 30 minutes. Cut it into quarters and soak again for another 2 hours, or until soft. The yellow center will still be a little hard, but this shortened soaking process is fine if the white fungus will be used in a long boil (e.g. 2 – 3 hours cooking time). The long cooking time will help to soften the hard center.
It doesn't really taste of anything but it has a gelatinous texture. White fungus is cooked with rock sugar in a sweet soup or with chicken in a savory version is among the popular dishes. Occasionally, you may also see it in stir-fries, vegetarian style in particular.