Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Mushrooms are one of the most versatile ingredients to work with.  They make a delicious side dish, a meaty main or an irresistible topping. Low in fat and cholesterol, fresh mushrooms are a source of vitamin B, D, iron and other essential nutrients that make them a mighty super food.

Whether you are looking to add texture to your burger or enhance the flavour of your soup, there's a delicious variety of mushrooms to choose from. 

White Button Mushrooms
White button mushrooms have a mild, earthy flavour that intensifies with cooking. They are delicious raw in salads and great in soups and sautés.  

Cremini (Brown) Mushrooms
Cremini mushrooms are actually baby portobello mushrooms, and vary from light tan to dark brown in colour.  They're generally meatier than white mushrooms but pretty similar in taste, so you can substitute one for the other in your recipes.  

Portobello Mushrooms
These are fully-grown cremini mushrooms with strong earthy flavour.  Because of their substantial size and meaty texture, Portobello mushrooms are terrific as a vegetarian main dish "steak". They are best suited for grilling, roasting or sautéing.

Shiitake Mushrooms
Fresh shiitake mushrooms have a light, earthy flavour while dried shiitakes have a rich, smoky flavour. Both are great in a variety of dishes from soups and stir-frys to sauces and stews. 

Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini means "piglets" in Italian. Available both fresh and dried, they can be sautéed, broiled or stewed.  Their rich, earthy flavour and woodsy aroma make them a popular ingredient for pizzas, pastas, risottos and soups. 

Oyster Mushrooms
These fan-shaped mushrooms come in clusters. Their delicate flavour and velvety texture make them a great compliment for chicken, seafood or pork. Or try adding a few to your sautées or soups.

When selecting fresh fungi, look for mushrooms that are dry, firm and free of blemishes. Make sure the edges are smooth and look underneath the caps for tightly closed gills.  For dried mushrooms that are sold by bulk, choose whole pieces with a strong aroma. If they are sold in a bag, avoid those that contain lots of crumbled bits.

To cook fresh mushrooms, simple wipe them with a damp cloth (never wash/soak or boil fresh mushrooms and mushrooms are much spongy and they absorb water so easily and lost their taste and nutritions), trim the ends of the stem and prepare them according to the recipe. Dried mushrooms should be soaked in hot water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the liquid through a sieve to remove the gritty bits, then use the liquid to flavour your stocks and sauces. 

To store, keep fresh mushrooms in a paper bag and refrigerate them in your vegetable crisper drawer. They'll keep about 3 to 4 days. Store dry mushrooms in an air-tight container in a cool, dark spot for up to six 6 months.

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