All About Mushrooms
Button, portobello, or shitake, mushrooms are popular worldwide, and can be used in anything from soup, stir-fries, stroganoff or just sizzling on the backyard barbecue.
Edible mushrooms are a type of macro-funghi, and come in a range of varieties, both wild and cultivated. The varieties you spot at the supermarket however are generally buttons, cups or flat mushrooms. Eaten for their mild taste, nutritional value and sometimes even medicinal qualities, mushrooms are best grown in dark, cool, moist, and humid environments. With about 15,000 mushroom varieties in the UK, among the most popular are edible varieties of button mushrooms, chanterelle, shiitake, oyster and portabella.
Mushrooms are in season year-round in the UK and Northern Ireland.
How to Pick it:
Mushrooms can be quite delicate and spoil if not handled properly. Avoid mushrooms with dark bruises, any that are shrinking or any that feel slimy. If they have a soft fuzz over the cap, this is a good sign and shows they have not been overly handled. They should also have a earthy, but agreeable smell.
Look out for firm stems and gills that are a strong dark colour, dry and papery-soft.
Mushrooms also have a different weight, so choose the lighter ones, to help your hip-pocket at the checkout.
How to Cook it:
There are countless ways to cook mushrooms, and even raw mushrooms can be a tasty snack in itself.
Generally speaking, Portobello mushrooms are excellent alongside any meat dish and fried up on the grill, where as Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms are more mild and often the favourite addition in Asian cooking.
White button mushrooms, commonmyfound at most supermarkets are best sautéed in butter and garlic as a side dish, friend or jarred and dried.
How to Store it:
A plastic bag will not suffice. The plastic traps in moisture and will make your mushrooms wet and slimy. Put your mushrooms in a paper bag and store in the refrigerator.
Also, do not soak mushrooms and wash your mushrooms only when you are ready to eat them and keep them whole, not sliced, to give them a longer shelf-life.