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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mushrooms Revisited

Mushrooms Revisited:


The term "mushroom" derives from the French "mousseron" in reference to moss.  Mushrooms are a low calorie food usually eaten cooked, raw and as garnish to a meal.  Mushrooms are used extensively in many cuisines, notably Chinese, Korean, European, and Japanese.  They are known as the "meat" of the vegetable world.


Mycophagy, the act of consuming mushrooms dates back to ancient times.  The first reliable evidence of  consumption of mushrooms dates back several hundred years BC in China.  Chinese value mushrooms for medicinal properties as well as food.  Ancient Romans and Greeks used mushrooms for culinary purposes.

My Story:

I first remember eating mushrooms in a restaurant with my grandmother and an aunt.  I didn't know what they were and kept asking, "Is this a mushroom?"  I decided I liked mushrooms and have been eating them ever since.  In the store mushrooms used to come wrapped with blue tissue paper in a small wooden basket with a wire handle.    It was kind of distinctive and I always thought the basket would be good as a picnic basket.


Over 20 species of mushrooms are commerically cultivated.  The six most common are Chanterelle, prized for its fruity aroma; White, the most common and the mildest flavor;  Oyster, velvety trumpet shaped with a peppery taste.  The smallest are the best.  Portobello, up to 6 inches across with a steak-like taste.  Remove the woody stems before eating.  Shitake, meat to dark brown umbrella like caps with a distinctive smoky flavor.  The stems are too tough to eat but can be used for flavoring then discarded.  Cremini, similar to the white but with a firm texture and deeper flavor.  They are immature portobellos.

Poisonous Mushrooms:

A number of mushrooms are poisonous although some resemble certain edible species.  Consuming them could be fatal.   Gathering mushrooms in the wild should only be undertaken by persons knowledgeable in mushroom identification.  Everyone else should obtain their mushrooms from the local supermarket or store.

Psychedelic Mushrooms:

Psilocybin mushrooms possess psychedelic properties.  Commonly called "shrooms", they are openly available in many parts of the world and on the black market in countries that have outlawed their sale.  Psilocybin mushrooms are reported as facilitating profound and life changing insights described as mystical experiences.  They are being studied for their ability to help people suffering from psychological disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Minute amounts have been reported to stop cluster and migraine headaches.


Most mushrooms sold in supermarkets are commercially grown on mushroom farms.  Dietary mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, and essential minerals selenium, copper, and potassium.  Fat, carbohydrate, and calorie contents are low with absence of vitamin C and sodium.  Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light contain large amounts of vitamin D2.  There are approximately 20 calories in an ounce of mushrooms.

Health Benefits:

As mentioned mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid which help to provide energy by breaking do0wn proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  B vitamins also play an important part in the nervous system. 
Pantothenic acid helps with the production of hormones.  Riboflavin helps maintain healthy red blood cells.  Niacin promotes healthy skin and makes sure the digestive and nervous systems function properly.
Selenium works as an antioxidant to protect the body's cells from damage that might lead to heart disease, some cancers, and other diseases of aging.  It has also been found to be important for the immune system and fertility in men.

Selecting and Storing:

Choose firm unblemished mushrooms with a tight underside.  Keep mushrooms in either plastic or paper bags.  Plastic should have a few holes to allow some air to circulate.  When ready to use, you can rinse dirty mushrooms,  but usually a good wipe with a damp paper towel is best


You can bake, broil, fry, grill, puree, saute, steam or just eat raw.  Mushrooms go with just about anything.

So..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

Simple but Good:

Stuffed Mushrooms:

1 lb mushrooms (2 - 2 1/2in. diameter)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs, more if needed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp black pepper
olive oil 

Preheat oven to 350  degrees F.
Brush tops of mushrooms with a damp cloth to remove any dirt.  Twist the stems  of the mushrooms to remove from caps. 
Chop the mushroom stems and then saute in a skillet  with 2 TBS olive oil and add onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  After when onions are soft stir in breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Add some more olive oil so mixture is damp.  
Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps until heaping.  Place the filled mushrooms on a baking pan which has been sprinkled with some olive oil.   Then sprinkle some more olive oil on top of stuffed mushroom.  Place in oven for 15 - 20 minutes

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