People either love them or hate them. Some are grossed out by the texture, and some love the earthy flavor. Whatever your opinion about them, we can all learn a little more about mushrooms.
They are often grouped into the vegetable category, but mushrooms are really a fungus. They are grown from spores that are invisible to the naked eye, not seeds like other plants. This is why fungi are separated into their own category. Eastern cultures have used mushrooms for their health benefits for thousands of years. There are many mushroom varieties, most of which are wild and poisonous. The most common varieties we eat are button, shiitake, portobello, and cremini.
Why are they beneficial?
Mushrooms are packed with nutrients for such a small food. They are a good source of vitamins B2, B3, and B5, which all turn food into energy and keep a healthy nervous system. Mushrooms also have vitamin D which is important for bone health. They have many minerals, including selenium, which is considered an antioxidant. Because of these health benefits, studies are being done to prove mushrooms’ cancer fighting power.
When are they in season?
Each variety has a different growing season. Luckily, you can find at least one variety of mushroom in season any time of year. Since mushrooms are very porous, they absorb any pesticides that are sprayed on them, so be sure to buy organic whenever possible.
How long will they keep?
If stored properly, mushrooms should last up to a week. Place your fresh, unwashed mushrooms in a paper bag, and put it in the least humid part of your refrigerator. The paper bag will absorb any moisture and keep your mushrooms fresher for longer. Try to keep them away from strong odors since they’ll absorb any smells.
How do I prepare mushrooms?
If you’re new to eating mushrooms or want to try them a different way, here’s some ideas to get you started:
- Make portobello mushroom burgers for a meat-free dinner. This recipe from Skinny Taste has the mushrooms marinated then grilled.
- Add any kind of mushrooms to your stir fry. They taste great with soy sauce or teriyaki.
- Saute them in garlic, butter, and rosemary, then add them to a swiss cheese melt sandwich.
- Add sliced mushrooms to your omelette or bake an egg right in the cap of a portobello for a healthy breakfast.
Weekly Fig is a private membership association for local sustainable foods.