All maitake are not the same. Although wild maitake still exist deep in some forests, almost all the maitake used for food and medicine are cultivated. Like other medicinal and culinary plants, the quality of maitake depends on growing conditions and genetic constitution.
Through the years scientists have learned that maitake produce the most potent medicinal effects and have the best flavor when the highest quality of spores are used for cultivation under ideal growing conditions. Another concern is the issue of heavy metals in cultivated maitake.
Maitake have the ability to concentrate heavy metals from the environment, so mushrooms grown close to industry and densely populated areas can contain dangerous levels of lead, arsenic and mercury.
Mitoku's exclusive maitake supplier, Yukiguni Maitake Inc., in Nigata Prefecture, is Japan's largest producer of high quality maitake and maitake products. At their state-of-the-art facilities, Yukiguni produces over 200,000 pounds of high quality maitake a day!
The key to Yukiguni's success is their exclusive, high-tech cultivation process. Using only spores selected for their favorable genetic qualities, Yukiguni's technical staff inoculates sterile organic growing media consisting of sawdust, bran, water and micronutrients. Sprouting takes place in a controlled environment where each mushroom is grown separately to ensure the ideal conditions. No agricultural chemicals of any kind are used and independent laboratory analysis shows that Yukiguni maitake do not have any detectable amounts of lead, arsenic, or mercury.
At their peak of flavor and medicinal potency, Yukiguni maitake are harvested for culinary use or processed into several medicinal products.
Nutritionally, most edible mushrooms are valuable health foods - low in calories and carbohydrates; loaded with vegetable protein and essential amino acids; a source of some fiber; and rich in a number of important vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, iron, potassium. selenium and zinc. It is, however, some mushrooms' potent medicinal qualities that have attracted the attention of medical researchers around the world.