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Demand for Lion's Mane mushrooms increases due to medicinal properties

For years, Pleunis Mushrooms in Kinrooi would cultivate a small batch of Lion's Mane each winter, overshadowed by its larger counterparts such as Shiitake, Maitake, and King Oyster mushrooms. During the summer, cultivation would come to a complete halt due to a lack of demand in the fresh market. However, over the past couple of years, Lion's Mane has surged in popularity: its cultivation has significantly expanded and now occurs year-round, thanks to the supplements and extracts industry.

Also known as the Bearded Tooth Mushroom, its resemblance to a head of hair has earned it its name. The "mane" in Lion's Mane refers to its hair-like appearance. Some see the mushroom as resembling a cheerleader's pom-pom, hence the name pom pom blanc. Its scientific name, Hericium Erinaceus, with "Erinaceus" meaning hedgehog in Latin, hints at its spiky appearance.

Medicinal properties
The renewed interest in this mushroom is largely due to its medicinal properties. Besides being a delicacy, the Bearded Tooth Mushroom, which grows in Asia, North America, and Europe, is known for its health benefits. Research has shown that substances in pom pom blanc can boost the immune system, alleviate inflammation – including in the intestines –, counteract aging, promote heart health, and protect brain and nerve cells, leading to improved memory, mood, and potentially slowing down dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

"We receive orders from companies that produce supplements and extracts," says Koert Pleunis, who started as a mushroom grower, then expanded his range of mushrooms for the fresh market and the culinary industry – all organically, by the way – and is now riding the wave of the medicinal properties of fungi. "We supply the dried mushrooms in vacuum packs of about 2 kilos. The drying is done in our facilities using a recently purchased dryer, but the grinding of the product is left to the companies that process the medicinal mushrooms into tinctures and capsules."

Patience in the drying process
Koert explains that from 1 kilo of fresh mushrooms, about 100 grams of dried product remains. "During drying, warm air is blown over the product, with temperatures ranging between 40 and 50 degrees. The temperature is gradually increased. The dried product has a shelf life of at least two years. Although the Chinese product can be up to four times cheaper, many processing companies prefer raw materials that are 100% reliable and traceable. Organic cultivation in the Netherlands, Belgium, or the rest of Europe is crucial when producing medicinal extracts or capsules."

Koert now has two years of experience in drying and vacuum packing mushrooms, which are sought after for their health-promoting properties. "From a production of 20 kilos per month, we are now at 300 kilos of dry product. And there's still room to grow. Given the good shelf life of the dried product, transportation over long distances is not an issue. We see demand not only in the Netherlands and Belgium but also in Germany, the United Kingdom, and even Finland. Cultivation now takes place year-round, in the summer for supplements, but still for the fresh market in the winter. Mushrooms have a bright future ahead, if you ask me," concludes Koert.

For more information:
Koert Pleunis
Pleunis Mushrooms
Lochtstraat 8, 6039 RV
Stramproy, the Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)6-54 255 406
Email: [email protected]

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