Cooperative Leading the Export of High-Quality Dried Oak Mushroom
The Best-Quality Dried Oak Mushroom Produced in the Springtime
The oak mushroom produced around springtime in Korea is considered to be one of the best quality compared to mushroom grown at other times of the year. This is because in the spring the temperature is agreeable for the cultivation of mushroom and the soil provides abundant nutritious elements for optimum growth. In particular, the oak mushroom picked between late February and late March can be classified into the highest-grade of ‘Hwa-go’ during the dehydrating process. Since Korean dried oak mushroom is sold at relatively high price on overseas markets, farmers and producers pay extra attention to harvesting, sorting, and drying the mushroom for export. These days the mushroom is mass dried in a drying machine, not under the sun. Indeed, it is as if the already dried oak mushroom had been dried under the sun for about two hours.
Recently, the demand for Korean dried oak mushroom has increased. As of February this year, USD 671,648 of mushroom has been exported; this is an increase of twofold from USD 327,032 last year. The mushroom is exported mainly to Japan and Hong Kong. Although Korean dried oak mushroom is sold at a price over ten-time higher than Chinese varieties in Hong Kong, the Korean type is still preferred. While Chinese oak mushroom is cultivated in a culture area, Korean mushroom is raised in an oak tree. In comparison the Chinese mushroom is of inferior quality. The Korean mushroom cultivated in an oak tree can be harvested a year and a half after culture bacteria is injected into the tree, but the endurance of a long wait pays off.
Over USD 1m Worth of Dried Oak Mushroom Exported Annually
Among the many dried oak mushroom-exporting groups in Korea, the Buyeo Mushroom Farming Cooperative located in Buyeo in Chungcheongnam-do is outstanding. It exports some USD 1m worth of dried oak mushroom every year. Considering that Korea’s total export amount of dried oak mushroom in 2008 was USD 5.99m, the contribution of the farming cooperative is huge taking up about 17% of the total export. The cooperative attributes its outstanding achievement to the contribution of each of its members who each have over fifteen-year experience each in cultivating oak mushroom. Currently, the number of members is 269 and Kim Seung-Tae, Head of the farming cooperative, has been cultivating the mushroom for as many as thirty years. It is understandable then that the farming cooperative can make maximum use of the know-how related to incubating the culture bacteria and growing and dehydrating quality mushroom.
As carefully cultured bacteria yield good oak mushroom in the first place, the Buyeo Mushroom Farming Cooperative buys good bacteria and after breeding for seven days supplies them to its members. The harvested mushroom goes through a dehumidifying process in a freezer for five hours after which it is dried at 40℃ for 48 hours. Then the dried oak mushroom is divided into 11 grades including the highest-grade, ‘Hwa-go,’ and ‘Heukhwa-go,’ ‘Dong-go,’ ‘Hyang-go,’ ‘Hyang-shin.’
Mr. Kim said: “If the crops fail we would sustain a huge economic loss as it takes as long as eighteen months to grow the mushroom. So supplying high-quality culture bacteria is essential. Specifically regarding drying, if the mushroom is dried at 30℃, it couldn’t be hard enough.”
Nutrients of Oak Mushroom Get Richer When it is Dried
Oak mushroom grown with much care by the mushroom farmers over a long cultivation period contains various nutrients. But the mushroom gets more attention during the drying procedure. Followed by Moki mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae), oak mushroom is known to have more dietary fiber than other kinds of mushroom, so it offers protection against constipation or diarrhea. In particular, the vitamin B1 and B2 content of the mushroom is almost double that of other vegetables.
Oak mushroom also abounds in ergosterol that is turned into vitamin D when the mushroom is dried under the sun. It has the functions of protecting against osteoporosis by contributing to strengthening the bones. And recently it has been found that elidatenin, a special element in the mushroom, helps eliminates bad cholesterol in the blood. Therefore, oak mushroom is considered good for those who are prone to obesity or who suffer from a cardiac disorder as it is a low-caloric food that helps prevent high blood pressure.
Mr. Kim said: “The number of the farms which grow oak mushroom has been shrinking by 20% every year. So it gets harder to procure high-quality oak mushroom and we almost cannot meet the export orders. But we will make full efforts to continue our export with the cooperation of our members.”
Inquiries Kim Seung-Tae Tel +82-41-835-9114 Fax +82-41-836-9114
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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