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Plants and Society, 3/e
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Beverages and Foods From Fungi

Concept Quizzes


Yeast exist in many different strains; the selection of the strain will determine to a great extent the flavor and other desirable characteristics of a beer. Lambic beers from Belgium are unique in the modern beer-making industry because they rely on spontaneous fermentation. In the lambic process, the wort is exposed to the open air to be inoculated by wind-borne wild yeasts.

Can you think of any difficulties that might arise from the practice of spontaneous fermentation? Does it surprise you that lambic beer is produced successfully in only a small area around Brussels and only during the months of October to April, when outside temperatures remain under 15oC (59oF)? Explain.

Absinthe was a liqueur that inspired a devoted following in the 19th century. It was banned in many countries when experimental evidence confirmed its toxicity.

Recently, people are rediscovering the absinthe habit. How might the history of absinthe be useful to alcohol and drug education programs?

Many edible mushrooms are not grown in cultivation but picked from wild stands in our national forests. For example, the pine mushroom (Tricholoma magnivelare) flourishes in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, growing on the undisturbed forest floor in association with 100-year-old lodegepole pines, Douglas-firs, and western hemlocks. Closely related to Japanese species, top grade "pines" may sell up to $200 per pound or more when shipped to Japanese markets. This lucrative trade has created a type of modern-day gold rush whereby hundreds of mushroom pickers descend on forests during harvest season to "strike it rich."

Can you foresee any problems with the unregulated harvesting and sale of wild mushrooms? How would you go about regulating the harvest of wild mushrooms? (Consider that Illinois bans the sale of wild mushrooms altogether, and, in Michigan, harvesters of wild mushrooms must be licensed.)