Dried Wood Ear mushrooms, according to the literature are small to medium in size, averaging 3-8 centimeters in diameter, but some of the ones we purchased were even larger, and they are curved and wavy with an ear-like or cup-like shape.
The literature also says that the larger ones are less tender. However, when wood ear mushrooms are cooked in soups and stir-fries, which is the preferred way of preparing them, the mushrooms are firm, and chewy with a mild, musty flavor. Dried wood ear mushrooms are botanically classified as Auricularia polytricha, which are a wild, edible ear jelly fungus that is a member of the Auriculariaceae family.
They are also known as the Cloud Ear, Tree Ear, Black fungus, and Jelly Ear, wood ear mushrooms are often mistaken for Auricularia auricula-judae, with the main difference between the two species being their size. Dried Wood Ear mushrooms are found in temperate forests and grow in groups predominately on elder trees, but they have also been found on dead and living trees such as ash, spindle, and beech. These mushrooms are also cultivated around the world in bags of sawdust and are dried and exported for commercial use, and for people like us who like to cook with different ingredients