Mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungus. The single most common variety of mushroom sold is the variety Agaricus bisporus. This variety can come in several forms that can seem like different varieties entirely. Portabello mushrooms, button mushrooms, and white mushrooms found in most American grocery stores are all the same Agaricus bisporus variety at different levels of maturity. Scientists have classified 2,189 mushrooms as edible. Expert identification is important to separate safe from dangerous mushrooms. There are many more varieties of edible mushrooms other then Agaricus bisporus though! They can come in many different colors from pink to yellow, brown to black.
Mushrooms have the ability to create savory rich flavors called umami, thanks to the presence of an amino acid called glutamate, which is also found in meats, fish, and cheeses. Mushrooms are a good source of copper, B vitamins, potassium, and iron. They are a low-calorie, high-fiber food choice that is full of antioxidants.
Buying & Storing
When buying mushrooms, choose sections that are firm but not slimy or discolored. Fresh mushrooms should not be dry, hard, or shriveled. Select mushrooms with firm whole caps with an even texture.
Mushrooms are delicate and should be stored in a refrigerator until use, ideally within one week. Do not wash or clean mushrooms until just before using. Storing in a brown paper bag with the top open will help to absorb moisture and keep them from spoiling. Before using, carefully trim any hard or fibrous stem ends and remove any portions that have become slimy or discolored. Mushrooms should be cleaned gently because of how delicate they are. Use a damp paper towel or gently running water to remove dirt before using. Boiling or microwaving mushrooms in high-temperature water may cause water-soluble nutrients to dissolve into water, reducing the nutritional value of mushrooms.
Raw mushrooms do not freeze well due to a high moisture content. Reduce moisture through cooking or dehydration before freezing. Mushrooms can also be fully dried out and stored in an airtight container for up to 1 year.
Sauté – Slice mushrooms and lightly sauté over high heat with oil or butter and add to pasta, grains, or freeze for later use. Sauté with other vegetables and seasonings for delicious stir-fries, or with onions and seasonings to top steaks, burgers, chicken or roasted eggplant.
Fry – Dip slices in a favorite batter and fry at 350-375° F, until fully cooked.
Grill – Gently coat halves or whole pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Smaller pieces can be pieced together on a skewer. Place on a hot grill until tender and slightly charred. Marinade or mix with other vegetables or meat.
Roast/Stuff – Leave whole, or remove stem and fill cap with a favorite filling like garlic and cheese. Place on a greased baking sheet and roast at 375° F until tender and browned.
Soup/Broth – Depending on mushroom variety, add fresh or dried towards the end of cooking soup or lightly sauté with other vegetables at the start as the base of a gently simmered soup. Add water to dried mushrooms and gently simmer to form a savory broth.