Mushrooms are a type of fungus found in many parts of the world. They are usually eaten raw or cooked. In the United States, mushrooms are available year-round. However, they are seasonal in other countries. Mushrooms are used in many cuisines around the world. They are generally served sautéed, grilled, baked, or fried.
There are hundreds of types and varieties of edible mushrooms that can be grown commercially for food purposes. The most common mushroom is the white button mushroom. It has been cultivated since ancient times as an important ingredient in cooking. Another popular variety is portobello mushroom which looks like a large round steak with its thick cap on top.
If you’ve never worked with mushrooms before, they can be a little perplexing. They’re unlike any other vegetable, and they’re a terrific meat alternative. They also prepare food in their own unique style. As a pot of chopped mushrooms cooks, we’ve all seen it shrink before our eyes. So, let’s talk about how to treat mushrooms in general, starting with whether or not to peel them. Is it OK to eat the skin? Is it necessary to wash mushrooms? Is it necessary to remove the stems? What about the gills? What makes them darker? Please, someone, assist me!
This is what we’ll talk about in this essay because mushrooms are both helpful and tasty. They can go with virtually anything if you prepare and season them correctly. Let’s begin with the fundamentals of mushroom cooking.
No, don’t bother peeling your mushrooms unless there is something wrong with them. Peeling mushrooms removes some flavor but leaves behind nutrients. If you want to get rid of the stem, just cut off the bottom part where the stem meets the cap.
This will make it easier to slice into smaller pieces. But, if you prefer to keep the whole thing intact, then leave it alone. Mushrooms, unlike other vegetables, do not require peeling. Mushrooms are cultivated in a specific sort of wet dirt in highly clean, hygienic conditions. Under running water, the dirt is readily washed off the mushrooms. Peeling the mushrooms is time-consuming and adds nothing to the dish’s flavor.
Instead, remove the stems from the tops and run them under cold or lukewarm water before cutting off only the bottoms of the stems (roots).
Yes, the skin of the mushroom, as well as the veil, can be eaten. Mushrooms, unlike other veggies, are completely edible. There is no protective, hard outer layer, and the seeds are not buried in the center.
You should always try to avoid eating the skins of fresh mushrooms. This includes wild mushrooms such as morels, chanterelles, porcini, and cèpes. These have thin layers of fleshy tissue covering the caps. When these tissues dry out, they become tough and leathery. The same goes for dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms retain much of their original texture even after being rehydrated.
Raw mushrooms contain enzymes that break down proteins. Cooking destroys those enzymes so that protein digestion does not occur until later. Raw mushrooms may cause stomach upset when consumed by people who are sensitive to certain foods. However, cooked mushrooms are safe for everyone.
Raw mushrooms are safe to eat in limited amounts and only if they come from a reliable source. Raw champignon and portobello mushrooms are safe to consume, although the texture may not be to your liking (very spongy).
Washing mushrooms helps prevent contamination. It also rids them of excess soil and grit. Washing mushrooms is optional; however, washing them thoroughly is recommended. Wash mushrooms immediately after picking. Do not soak them in water. Instead, rinse them briefly under cool tap water. Dry them on paper towels.
Yes, you should always wash your mushrooms before cooking them. Especially if you want to eat them uncooked. You’ll see some dirt coming off the mushrooms as you wash them. If you see any persistent dirt, rub it away with your thumb until it disappears. If that isn’t the case, you may just chop it away. When washing mushrooms, particularly oyster mushrooms, keep in mind that they will absorb some of the water. Mushrooms love wetness, which is why they thrive after rain, especially in the early fall.
The mushroom stems can be left on, especially if the mushrooms are tiny. The bottom of the cluster (stem) of oyster mushrooms will be harder than the top. So, take it off and finely slice it to ensure that it softens and cooks all the way through.
You may remove the stems from huge portobellos to make washing and cutting simpler. The stems may still be used, but they become spongy and hollow within as they grow larger. Don’t worry about the caps; they’re good to use.
Stems add color and shape to dishes but take up valuable space. They’re usually discarded anyway because most recipes call for chopped or sliced mushrooms. Stem removal is optional. Some cooks like to trim the stem ends of shiitake mushrooms, while others don’t bother at all. For white button mushrooms, there really aren’t many reasons to cut them apart. Just use what you need.
Gill-less mushrooms tend to cook faster than ones with gills. Gilled mushrooms often require longer cooking times. Remove the gills from large mushrooms such as cremini, baby Bellas, and portobellos. Smaller mushrooms do not need to be trimmed.
If you choose to remove the gills from mushrooms, it is entirely up to you. They contain mushroom spores (which are not harmful to humans) and may break down when the mushrooms cook. It’s not an issue because whether you leave them on or not has no effect on the flavor of the dish. The gills are essentially storage areas for the mushroom’s "seeds." They readily come off the caps if you try to remove them, but it’s a laborious and futile endeavor unless you really dislike their appearance.
Mushroom benefits include:
1. Antioxidants – Mushrooms have been shown to help protect against cancer by inhibiting tumor growth. Studies show that eating more mushrooms reduces risk factors associated with heart disease.
2. Cancer prevention – A study published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that people who ate three servings per week had lower rates of colon cancer compared to those who didn’t consume mushrooms regularly.
3. Immune system support – Eating mushrooms increases levels of interleukin 1 beta, a protein involved in the immune response. This helps fight infections and diseases.
4. Digestive health – Mushrooms improve digestion by increasing bile production. Bile aids in breaking down fats so that they can pass into the small intestine where they are absorbed.
5. Heart health – Mushrooms reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. In fact, one cup of cooked mushrooms contains less fat than half a serving of meat!
6. Weight loss – Mushrooms increase metabolism which burns calories. One ounce of dried mushrooms provides approximately 100 calories. That means that just two ounces would provide enough energy to burn off five pounds of body weight over a period of time.
7. Anti-aging properties – Mushrooms slow aging by reducing inflammation. Inflammation causes wrinkles and sagging skin. By decreasing this process, mushrooms keep your skin looking young and healthy.
8. Bone strength – Mushrooms boost bone density due to high calcium content.
The bottom line is that mushrooms are nutritious foods packed full of nutrients. Whether you eat them raw or sauteed, steamed or grilled, boiled or baked, mashed or pureed, mushrooms make delicious additions to any meal. If you want to learn how to prepare mushrooms properly, check out our article here.
I hope this post was informative to you and it helped you with all your food curiosities.