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More mushroom facts

  • The Egyptian Pharaohs called mushrooms “the food from heaven”.
  • Button, Cup and Flat mushrooms are all the same variety, just at different stages of development.
  • Mushrooms can grow to double their size within 24 hours.
  • Mushrooms are one of the freshest vegetables in our shops since they tend to be on the supermarket shelf a mere 24 hours after being picked.
  • There are more than 100,000 different types of mushrooms.
  • Mushrooms are the ninth most valuable horticultural crop and third most valuable fresh produce item in supermarkets. 
  • Mushrooms contain glutamate which means they are ‘umami’: a taste the Japanese define as distinct from sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Umami gives a robust, savoury and meaty flavour, which explains why mushrooms stand in so successfully for meat in vegetarian dishes.

Strange facts about mushrooms

  • Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals; they were reclassified in the 1960s into the separate Kingdom of Fungi.
  • All mushrooms are fungi but not all fungi are mushrooms. The Kingdom of Fungi also includes yeasts, slime moulds, rusts and several other types of related organisms.
  • There are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million species of fungi on planet Earth, of which only about 80,000 have been properly identified. Theoretically, there are 6 species of fungi for every 1 species of green plants.
  • In some ways, mushrooms are more closely related to animals than plants. Just like us, mushrooms take in oxygen for their digestion and metabolism and "exhale" carbon dioxide as a waste product. Fungal proteins are similar in many ways to animal proteins.
  • Mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds, and a single mature mushroom will drop as many as 16 billion spores!

More Goodness facts

  • Mushrooms are a natural source of antioxidants.
  • Mushrooms are an ideal food- they contain virtually no fat, sugar or salt and are cholesterol free. Mushrooms are also one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D: essential for the production of healthy bones and skin.
  • They are a valuable source of dietary fibre which, among other things, will help to satisfy hungry slimmers.
  • Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins – niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid and pantothenic acid.  These vitamins may help to relieve stress, depression and fatigue, and give you strong and healthy hair, skin and nails.
  • Mushrooms are a good source of minerals, especially potassium which is essential to balance the sodium found in other foods, phosphorus and selenium.
  • Mushrooms are a good source of easily absorbed, high quality protein, and contain more than most other vegetables.
Nutrition Table

Preparation

As mushrooms are extremely absorbent it is important to try and minimise their contact with any water when cleaning them.  To do this you should simply wipe them with a dry paper towel or a damp cloth, or alternatively you could use a soft brush (these can be bought at cookware shops).  

You may also want to trim off the stem bottoms of the mushroom if they appear to have a lot of soil sticking to their sterns.  If really necessary, place the mushrooms in a sieve and rinse them quickly under cold water; be careful not to soak them as this will cause them to absorb too much water.

You can eat most mushrooms stems, to do this all you need to do is trim off the end where the steam may be slightly too soft (in order to tell if it's too soft, try cutting through the stem with a small knife to see if it feels soft; if so, then trim it off).  If you are not using the stems within a receipe you can break them off at the cap and put them aside (in the freezer) to use for other recipes such as soup or stock.  However, shiitake stems are usually too fibrous to be eaten and should be cut off before preparing the caps. 

Storing

The best way to store mushrooms is in brown paper bags in the coldest section of the fridge.  When purchasing mushrooms you will usually find these paper bags available; if not, you can substitute these for paper lunch bags.  Often mushrooms are packaged in plastic, if this is the case simply transfer the mushrooms into a paper bag for storage in the fridge.

Avoid washing mushrooms before storage as this can often encourage moisture accumulation which may cause the mushrooms to sweat and whither quicker.

Alternative ways to store mushrooms are cloth bags, clean tea towel or a ceramic bowl lined with paper towels; these storage methods will allow the mushrooms to continue to breathe, without drying them out.

Selection

When choosing mushrooms you should look carefully at their caps, stems and gills. Select mushrooms which are firm and meaty, as well as dry to touch, but not shriveling.  Mushrooms (even when uncooked) should have a wholesome, earthy smell.  

Avoid mushrooms which are bruised, discoloured or showing signs of dampness, these mushrooms are not fresh and are more than likely past their prime.

A closed veil (the thin membrane under the cap) demonstrates a delicate flavour whereas an open veil indicates a much richer flavour.
 

Cultivation

Muhrooms are grown on pasteurised compost in conditions which are created with the aim to mirror the ideal conditions in nature, or as close as possible.  The ideal climate for mushroom cultivation is created by damp autumn mornings.  In order for mushrooms to be available all year round the growers must create this ideal climiate by using heating in the winter and air-cooling systems throughout the summer.

People who grow these mushrooms use health-conscious methods to grow mushrooms naturally, this process usually takes approximately six weeks and once this has occured the mushrooms are picked carefully by hand.

Mushrooms are seen to be one of the freshest vegetables on our supermarket shelves, as they are usually added to the shop shelves just twenty-four hours after being freshly picked by the mushroom growers.

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