The mighty Lion's Mane mushroom doesn't look like your typical mushroom. It has no real cap and no stem. Instead, it has hanging spines or tendrils coming out from a single clump, and the tendrils resemble the mane of a regal male lion.
Lion's Mane is a delicious, nutritious gourmet edible mushroom, and is quite tasty! They are also highly prized for their medicinal properties and their healing effect on the brain and nervous system.
As food, they're great alone or in a dish with other ingredients and prized for their texture and ability to absorb other flavors. When cooked, lion's mane has a seafood-like flavor without being too overpowering. Many think it has the delicate taste and texture of shrimp or lobster or crab.
The trick to preparing Lion's Mane is to cook them slowly. They are firm and tough and watery when raw, so they need longer periods of heat to cook off moisture and make them chewy. The extra cooking time is well worth it. For the best flavor, heat a pan to medium-high to high heat with a little oil. Slice your Lion's Mane into thin slabs, add the mushrooms to your pan and cover, then cook until the teeth are browned.
Keep checking on them and doing taste tests until you've reached your desired crispiness. Don't bother adding spices and butter until you're closer to the end of the cooking time. These mushrooms give off a lot of water at first, so save your delicious additives until the end.
Here's a GREAT recipe for making "Wicked Good" lion's mane patties: https://wickedhealthyfood.com/2017/08/04/wicked-healthys-shroom-spotlight-lions-mane/
Another favorite way to prepare is the Lion's Mane Bowl https://www.farmtopeople.com/blogs/kitchen-notebook/lions-mane-mushroom-bowl
Their high moisture content makes drying lion's mane challenging. The easiest way to preserve lion's mane is to sauté and then freeze them for later. See this article on freezing mushrooms for more information.
As a medicinal mushroom, Lion's Mane has a long and well-researched history. Lion's Mane may be our first, research-proved "smart" mushroom, in that it is very good for brain and nervous system health and healing. Research says Lion's Mane confers cognitive benefits for aging populations. Unfortunately, dietary (fresh or processed) lion's mane mushrooms are not yet widely available at grocery stores. Good news is dried lion's mane capsules are now available for those who just want a pill, not fresh Lion's Mane mushrooms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has long prescribed Lion's Mane for stomach problems and cancer of the digestive organs. Modern research suggests that these mushrooms also have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as supporting the immune system against certain types of cancers.
Yet the most exciting discovery about this mushroom is its ability to possibly heal nerve tissues. It contains molecules known as hericenones and erinacines, two compounds suspected to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF).
NGF is a protein necessary for nerve cells that send information to the brain to function properly. Lack of NGF is considered a cause of certain neurological problems such as Alzheimer's and dementia. Unfortunately, this protein can't pass through the blood-brain barrier. So treating dementia by injecting NGF into the body isn't going to work.
This is where lion's mane comes in! Due to their low molecular weight, the nerve regenerating compounds in this mushroom do pass the blood-brain barrier. This allows them to stimulate and repair nerve cells in the brain itself, increasing cognitive function.
Healing neurons and myelin (the sheath surrounding nerves) may be useful in treating Dementia, Alzheimer's, Muscular Dystrophy, Senility, Parkinson's Disease, and other neurological conditions.