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What is Snow Fungus?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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Snow fungus, known formally as Tremella fuciformis and informally by a number of names including silver tree ear, cloud ear, and shirokikurage, is a type of jelly fungus that is widely distributed in Asia and parts of North America. Though it is not overwhelmingly popular in Western cuisine, but it plays a role in Asian cuisine and medicine, where it is prized for immune boosting and cancer fighting properties. Like other types of jelly fungus, this fungus has a peculiar appearance and texture which can be unpleasant to people who are not accustomed to it.

In the wild, snow fungus looks like a cluster of jelly clinging to branches and trunks of mostly hardwood trees. It could also be mistaken for snow from a distance, which is the likely origin of the name. The wide lobed fungus tends to tremble because of its jelly-like consistency, and can be found in moist forests throughout the fall. It is often found in proximity to other jelly fungi such as wood ear mushrooms and witch's butter.

In texture, the snow fungus is slightly crunchy while retaining a rubbery resiliency. The crunchiness of the fungus will be retained through the cooking process, and it is frequently added to stir fries and similar dishes to add textural diversity. In flavor, this ingredient is relatively bland and unobjectionable, although it takes on other flavors very well. Because of the strange texture, some consumers are not very fond of it: serve it at dinners with a variety of options or experimental diners unless you know your guests are accustomed to it.

Snow fungus can be found fresh as specialty markets when it is in season, and should be of a firm although trembling consistency. Store it in a paper bag in the fridge for up to one week before use. Avoid any pieces that are discolored or slimy to the touch. This ingredient can also be found canned and dried in Asian markets. The canned version should be drained and rinsed before use, while dried mushrooms can be rehydrated in boiling water. Some stores also sell snow fungus in the form of a nutritional supplement.

Thre are a wide variety of ways to use snow fungus. The mushroom is most commonly used in stir fries, and you may want to experiment by adding a sample to your next Chinese meal. However, it can also be sauteed in butter like many other mushrooms, added to omelets, or thrown into stuffing. In addition, it can make an intriguing dessert offering after being soaked in a sweet flavored syrup of your choice overnight.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By vogueknit17 — On May 17, 2011

@hyrax53 I know what you mean. I have met people in European countries who know how to go into the forest and find medicinal mushrooms, even tasty kinds, easily by themselves, but I feel like Americans in general, in my experience, don't know how to tell good plants from poisonous ones.

By hyrax53 — On May 15, 2011

I feel like very few of us these days know how to find mushrooms in the forest by ourselves. I know that if I went into the woods trying to find snow fungus, I might find some other white fungus instead and end up poisoning myself. Woodcraft is just not something people are taught anymore. I know my parents' only warning to me was to never eat berries or mushrooms in the woods; practical, but it didn't really widen my knowledge at all.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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