Fresh mushrooms are one of the simple pleasures in life. Meaty, flavour-packed, pungent and versatile, it’s hard to beat a meal with mushies!
Depending on the type (and there are loads!), they are delicious raw in salads, cooked into pastas, slow-cooked, added to soups and grilled on the barbie. Here is the lowdown on some of the most common mushrooms and how to buy, store and prepare them.
BUYING & STORING MUSHROOMS
When selecting mushrooms, go for those that are firm to the touch, are uniform in colour and have a bit of a shine to them.
You may have noticed that brown paper bags are often supplied at supermarkets to hold the mushrooms you choose. This is because mushrooms will easily sweat and get all slimy if stored in plastic and not used immediately. Mushrooms in paper bags should last about a week on the lowest shelf of the fridge.
You don’t need to wash or peel mushrooms. In fact, lots of nutrients and flavour are contained in the skin.
Mushrooms are really good at soaking up liquid, so if you soak them (especially when sliced) in water, they’ll just absorb the water, rather than any sauce or liquid you are about to cook them in. To clean them, gently wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and then trim the stem. If there is still a little dirt left, simply brush it off.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
The mushroom has more B vitamins than found in vegetables, and did you know they are still the only non-animal fresh food source of B12? Mushrooms are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including selenium, riboflavin, folate, vitamins A and D, among others. And they’re a powerful source of antioxidants, such as ergothioneine, which protects the body from oxidative and DNA damage.
COMMON MUSHROOM TYPES & USES
These are small, firm and tightly closed mushrooms.
They have a mild flavour and so are ideal sliced and eaten raw in salads. These mushrooms easily take on other flavours, also making them great in pastas and stir-fries. In addition, they work well on the grill or barbecue, popped on pizzas or tossed into soups.
These are larger buttons that are beginning to open.
These mushrooms are still firm but have a more full-bodied flavour than button mushrooms.
They are perfect to sauté, stuff, grill or barbecue, however will also do very well in soups, sauces and pastas.
Flat (Field, Breakfast)
A large and flavoursome open mushroom with exposed rich dark gills.
Flats make a fantastic substitute for meat for vegetarians and vegans. Their robust ‘meaty’ flavour makes them superb pan-fried with herbs or toppings, grilled on the barbecue, or used in sauces and soups.
Swiss Brown (Brown, Cremini, Roman, Italian)
These are a little like button mushrooms but have a browner skin and a firm texture, which helps them hold their shape when cooked.
With a deeper, earthier flavour than white mushrooms, you might like them sliced raw in salads, or used in sauces, pastas and slow-cooked dishes.
Portobello (Giant Cremini)
Portobellos are Swiss Brown mushrooms that are grown until the tops have opened out revealing dark, fragrant gills.
If you really love a strong mushroom flavour, then these are the grandaddy of all mushrooms. Firm, rich, meaty and juicy, they make a great replacement for a meat pattie in a burger, are delicious baked, stuffed or grilled on the barbecue, or used in soups and stir-fries.
DELICIOUS RECIPES USING MUSHROOMS