A friend of mine revealed one of his cooking secrets to me. He uses mushrooms to enhance flavor in his favorite dishes. He doesn’t know why, but he just knows.
There are over 2,000 kinds of wild mushrooms; some are poisonous and some are edible. The majority of the mushrooms found in the wild are not considered worthy of your dinner plate. Many are too small to collect or have poor flavor and texture. Some wild mushrooms are not edible, because their safety is still unknown.
All mushrooms, whether poisonous or edible, can be admired for the fantastic variety of form, color, texture and beauty. There is no test or characteristic to distinguish poisonous from edible mushrooms. Be very careful.
Some wild mushrooms are deemed safe to eat, because they have been consumed frequently without any reported illness or death. Only choose the ones that have been identified as safe. When found in the forest or field, do not eat them raw. They need to be cleaned and cooked thoroughly.
When consuming cooked wild mushrooms for the first time, eat only a small amount of one kind at a time. Eating a variety of mushrooms could make identification of any poison difficult.
There is an old saying that must be considered. Do not experiment: “There are old mushroom hunters, and bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”
A few years ago the only mushroom available in the grocery store was the small white button type. Currently, it is not unusual to find three to 10 different types of mushrooms in the produce department, each one with a different flavor and texture.
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and very low in sodium. One cup of raw pieces or slices is only 15 calories; it is the accompanying dip that loads them with calories.
Cooked mushrooms contain 44 calories per cup. Cooking them in a lot of butter or deep frying after breading increases the calories. When mushrooms are cooked in a casserole or alongside a meat, they absorb the rich flavor of the fat.
Since mushrooms provide fewer calories for a greater amount of volume, they are very hearty and filling. They can be a valuable food item in a weight management program if consumed with minimal breading and grease.
They are good sources of selenium, potassium, B vitamins, copper and Vitamin D. In fact, mushrooms are the only item in the produce aisle with Vitamin D.
Mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Currently, they have proven themselves in boosting immunities and the body’s ability to fight disease. They are listed as one of the top antioxidant foods. Research has also revealed that mushrooms pack a punch against some cancers.
Whether you obtain your mushrooms from the grocery store or the woods, take time to appreciate their goodness. Now you know more, Jason.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.