Mushrooms are fungal growths, in the form of rounded caps with
gills underneath them, which grow in the ground on stalks or
stems. Mushroom, including the stalk, are not all edible.
However, the mushrooms that are edible, for culinary purposes,
can be defined as vegetables.
The mushroom tops, or caps as they are often described, have a
velvety, firm texture. There are many varieties of mushrooms
which vary in size and color from white, pink, brown and black
shades. Edible mushrooms are not only a nutritional food but
also a very powerful medicine - this vegetable is renown for its
healing properties and medicinal qualities.
Mushrooms are a type of fungus or fungi, and some types can be
extremely poisonous. Not all mushroom can be eaten due to the
poison that some contain. Some mushrooms can also be
The term mushroom is usually given to edible types and the term
toadstool will often define inedible, poisonous mushrooms. It
can be dangerous to pick your own wild mushrooms as it is very
difficult to identify which mushrooms are poisonous as there is
no easy way of identifying inedible species.
Mushroom is succulent, chewy and soft, they have a distinct
flavor and compliment other food types and recipes very well
indeed. They are excellent for making soups, sauces, casseroles,
and stir fries.
Types of Mushrooms
There are many types of mushrooms including:
mushrooms - this type of mushroom originates from Japan, Korea
and China. Shiitakes are a tree mushroom, they are believed to
have excellent healing powers. They can be cooked in the same
way as ordinary mushrooms. Shiitake is a little more expensive,
they can be bought fresh, dried or pickled.
- this variety of mushroom has fantastic healing abilities.
Maitakes contain beta-glucan which is known for its ability to
shrink tumors, and to prevent the HIV virus from killing white
- there are small mushrooms that are white with beige / pale
brown gills. They are delicious in flavor and versatile. Button
mushroom can be cooked in many different ways and they an
excellent choice for most mushroom recipes.
- this variety is slightly bigger than button mushrooms and the
flavor is more intense.
- this kind of mushroom is very versatile and ideal to use in
most recipes including soups and sauces. This type is darker
than button mushrooms, they are browner. The flavor of field
mushroom is very good and this type is ideal for stuffing.
- this is an unusual mushroom and it looks a little like
honeycomb. They have crinkled spongy caps. Morels are uniquely
shaped, unlike other mushrooms. They are edible and they are
sometime referred to as sponge mushrooms.
They are known as the truffles of the north in Scandinavia. This
is the first woodland mushroom of the year, it appears in the
spring. They are hollow inside and are considered to be one of
the finest and best mushrooms. Like honeycomb, Morel mushrooms
have holes in them, therefore, they must be washed well to
ensure that there are no bugs inside. The morel variety requires
longer cooking time than most mushrooms. This type is ideal for
There are different varieties of woodland
mushrooms such as Chanterelles, Ceps, Black Trumpets, Horns of
Plenty, Morels, Dried Mushrooms, Hedgehog Fungus, Oyster
Mushrooms and Enokitaki.
Picking and Storing Mushrooms
When picking mushrooms, look for ones that appear fresh and
vibrant, the caps shouldn't be bruised. The caps will become
discolored over time so look for ones that are rich in color.
Try to avoid buying mushrooms in plastic packaging as they tend
to sweat. Store mushrooms in a paper bag as this will keep them
fresher for longer. Store in the refrigerator - they will remain
fresh for one to two days.
Preparing Mushrooms for Cooking
Mushrooms should be carefully wiped with a damp piece of kitchen
paper in order to clean them. Mushroom absorbs liquid easily so
they shouldn't be washed under running water. Mushroom naturally
contain approximately 80-90% water. When preparing mushroom for
cooking, chop a small amount off the base of the stem. There is
no need to peel the skin from the mushroom top unless it is too
dirty to wipe clean properly.
How to fry mushrooms: The mushroom should be as dry as possible
for cooking as they consist of 89-90% water and absorb liquid
very easily. For example, fried mushrooms tend to absorb a lot
of oil, therefore, try using a healthier option such as olive
The mushrooms will reduce in size significantly during the
cooking process so although it may look like you have prepared
enough, bear in mind that they do shrink quite drastically. If
you are frying mushrooms, cut them into slices and fry rapidly
over a medium to high heat.
Do not leave mushrooms to soak in oil before or after cooking as
they will absorb the oil and become soggy and undesirable.
Mushrooms are versatile and can be cooked in many ways, they can
be fried, roasted, baked and grilled. There are lots of
different delicious recipes for mushrooms including stuffed
mushroom, cream of mushroom soup and sauce.
How to grill
mushrooms: remove stem completely, brush the mushroom top with a
little oil and grill for ten minutes on medium heat. Turn over
and brush with oil then grill for five minutes further. For a
little something extra why not add some crushed garlic before
returning to the grill.