"Specialty mushrooms" is a term given to a group of cultivated mushrooms which are less common in a particular area or country, but the term has been used to practically encompass all mushrooms other than the common button mushroom (A. bisporus). In the United States, the term "specialty mushrooms" is used to cover all mushrooms other than the button mushroom, which accounted for 90% of total production of 346188 MT there in 1993-1994 (Sharma 1997). In Japan, however, the situation is reverse to that in the United States where 90% of total production was of the so-called specialty mushrooms and button mushroom contributed only 10%. Therefore, from the Japanese perspective button mushroom could be termed as specialty mushroom. Be that as it may, the term specialty mushrooms is now well established by usage to represent all mushrooms other than the button mushroom. Production and consumption of the specialty mushrooms are very popular in the East Asian countries namely China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia and is picking up fast in many American and European countries where these are considered as novelty.
The scope, importance, and cultivation technology of many specialty mushrooms has been covered briefly by various authors (Royse 1997; Sharma 1997; Stamets 2000) but this review will cover the production technology of the economically most significant specialty mushrooms namely, Pleurotus, Lentinus, Volvariella, and Auricularia which together accounted for 75% of the world production of specialty mushrooms in 1997 (Table 1).
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