07 Sep Mushrooms – food in focus
There are numerous types of mushroom from the humble button mushroom to the more exotic, health stars like Shitake, Reishi and Maitake mushrooms.
Mushrooms have been consumed since pre-historic times. The Egyptians believed that they hold the secret to immortality and the Romans referred to them as the ‘Food of the Gods’. Mushrooms have also played a cental role in many medical traditions too.
Growing & Storing
Mushrooms are not popular in most vegetable gardens, although I have seen logs available impregnated with mushroom spores. Mostly people forage for them, but as there are so many poisonous varieties, it is vital that this is only done with knowledge or with an experienced forager. Professionally some are grown underground in tunnels, and others above ground in polytunnels as by the Livesey Brothers Woodland Mushrooms in Leicestershire. They have a video on their website should you be interested, plus many recipes. https://www.liveseybrosmushrooms.co.uk
Fresh mushrooms are best kept dry and stored in a paper bag in the fridge. Surprisingly they can be eaten even when they start to shrivel, as long as there is no mold present, and as they dry the flavour intensifies. Dried mushrooms also make a useful store cupboard staple.
Mushrooms are rich in health supporting nutrients like selenium, copper, potassium and zinc. They are also rich in B vitamins including the elusive B12. The more exotic Reishi, Shitake and Maitake are also rich in iron, protein, fibre and vitamin C.
Phytochemical (plant chemicals) found in mushrooms, such as polysaccharides and beta-glucans have been found to be immune enhancing, activating white blood cells, plus anti-cancer benefits have also been widely seen in studies.
Mushrooms contain chemicals called purines, which can break down to form uric acid. Excess amounts of purines in the body can increase risk of gout or kidney stone formation in those susceptible. As such, these people should eat mushrooms in moderation.
Tips for Using
- Cook mushrooms so they release their liquid and then reabsorb it.
- Mushrooms pair well with garlic, thyme, parsley, onions, balsamic vinegar, eggs, chilli, rosemary and much more.
Ideas for dishes
- Soups and ragouts, stir-fries and casseroles, simply fried with garlic, or grilled or baked.
- Mushroom Risotto
- Mushroom pâté
- Mushroom Frittata
- Stuffed mushrooms (with chopped peppers, chilli, cheese, spinach etc)
- Mushroom Bolognese
- Mushroom Stroganoff
- Mushroom and Gruyère Salad
As you can see these health enhancing mushrooms are extremely versatile as well as tasty and easy to cook. Enjoy!