Forest-grown Shiitake naturally harvested come in various sizes and shapes. Donko and Koshin Shiitake are harvested from the same type of Shiitake but at different timing of maturity. Donko is Shiitake gathered before the mushroom can fully bloom or open up. Donko is a thicker but smaller mushroom than the Koshin. Koshin is flatter but with a larger umbrella. As a general classification, less than 70% of Shiitake umbrellas are open or bloomed are Donko, and that greater than 70% are Koshin.
The word "donko" comes from the Chinese word for "winter" harvested mushrooms. Forest-grown Shiitake such as ours are harvested twice a year, in Spring and fall. However, we gather Donko mainly (mixed with Koshin) from January to April during the cooler temperatures of Spring, making it a true Winter Mushroom. On the other hand, the Autumn Harvest produces a few Donko, and most are Koshin. The larger Koshin harvest is due to the higher temperatures, which mature the mushrooms more quickly. The word "Koshin" comes from the word for "Fragrant" mushroom. While Donko is chewier and has a deeper, meatier aroma, Koshin has a more brilliant fragrance.
Because our Shiitake are grown naturally in mountain forests, the flavor, texture, and nutrition levels are maximized by slowly growing Shiitake exposed to the sun, rain, and wind. However, the shape, size, and appearance of Forest-grown Shiitake are not as uniform as those grown artificially indoors, such as those produced in China. Chinese and other artificially cultivated Shiitake are more uniform in size, color, and appearance. The more attractive appearance is achieved by quickly growing their mushrooms in controlled environments and use bleaches to clean and whiten their produce. However, the taste, texture, and Umami are greatly compromised.
We grow Shiitake on a natural sweet sap oak log in the forest. Our Shiitake is completely exposed to nature with no cover on the top or around the Shiitake. The growers use a 1,000-year-old Japanese approach to grow sustainable Sweet Sap Oak (sawtooth oak) Tree Logs recognized in Japan as producing the best-tasting and textured Shiitake.
Larger agro-businesses also cannot grow these Shiitake. Families living deep in the mountains grow Shiitake in harmony with nature.
No work manual is provided. In each forest micro-climate, it is essential to fine-tune the variable elements of nature, exposure to the rain, wind, and the sunlight through the trees, with the work and working hours changing according to the change in weather. Also, the grower must dry the Shiitake within 6 hours after harvesting for 24 hours to ensure freshness and quality. However, this limited-time window forces the farmer to gather a mix of different Koshin and Donko with various sizes. A businessperson who thinks about time cards and weekends cannot grow delicious Forest-grown Shiitake.
We work with about 600+ growers to grow these tasty Shiitake.
Since it is impossible to control the weather conditions in an outdoor forest and the very limited time window to dry, naturally grown Donko and Koshin Shiitake mushrooms come in various sizes, shapes, and appearances.
Shiitake that have just sprouted will grow with a membrane inside its umbrella. When Shiitake has grown to the point where it can no longer enlarge, the membrane on the underside of the umbrella breaks, and the Shiitake opens its umbrella and prepares to release its spores. Growers check to see if the inner membrane of the Shiitake umbrella is broken and pick Shiitake so that they are as large as possible. (photo)
Shiitake_releasing_spores.MP4 <= Here is a video of Shiitake mushrooms releasing spores.