Are Mushrooms Really Mold?

Mushrooms are a welcome addition to many main courses – from steak to salads. But is that actually mold you’re eating?

Mushrooms are a welcome addition to many main courses - from steak to salads. But is that actually mold you’re eating?

The Short Answer

Technically yes, mushrooms are a form of fungi, and fungi are a form of mold.

The Long Answer

We typically think of mold or fungus as something we don’t want to consume. But humans all over the world consume various forms of mold on a daily basis. The most common mold that people eat is undoubtedly the mushroom.

A mushroom is a fungus. A fungus is a type of mold. So, while all mushrooms are derived from mold, all molds cannot be considered mushrooms. A fungus is the fruit body of mold. Despite being one of the only parts of the mold, fungi is just a small part of the greater mold.

Fungi, and by extension, mushrooms, belong to a group of mold known as saprophytes. Saprophytes live on decaying wood or plant matter, breaking their host down until only minerals and carbon dioxide remains. One key purpose of saprophytes is the conversion of decomposing organic matter into inorganic substances.

Fungi form a vampiric relationship with the organic matter on which they grow, drawing on it for energy from which to extract nutrients. The mold then provides nutrients from which other plants can grow, creating a cycle of life.

Another kind of fungus that we humans can’t get enough of is truffles. Not to be confused with chocolate truffles – these are not fungi, but they sure are tasty!

There are so many tasty ways to prepare mushrooms! Make them the star of dinner with Portobello Mushroom Burgers or try making your own Cream of Mushroom Soup. Air Fryer Stuffed Mushrooms are also a crowd-pleasing appetizer! What’s your favorite way to eat mushrooms?

Mushrooms are a welcome addition to many main courses - from steak to salads. But is that actually mold you’re eating? #mushrooms #mold #fungi
Mushrooms are a welcome addition to many main courses - from steak to salads. But is that actually mold you’re eating? #mushrooms #mold #fungi

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.