Choosing the right mushrooms is not “magic”
Mushrooms are great supporting ingredients in some recipes and can even play the role of “the star” in others. But, how do you know which type of mushroom to use and how can you tell if the mushrooms in your yard are safe to eat? I spent a good chunk of this last Spring trying to better understand this versatile fungus.
What are mushrooms?
Mushrooms are the “fruit” or body of fungus that usually is found above ground or on the food source of the fungus. The edible types of mushrooms are also quite nutritious! They are great sources of protein, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin D and Selenium.
What types of mushrooms are edible?
It should come as no surprise that not all mushrooms should be or can be eaten. Some of them should be avoided due to their poisonous qualities and others simply because they are bad tasting. There are also mushrooms that are technically edible although they are typically consumed to initiate a hallucinogenic trip. These, are of course known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms”. The following mushrooms are some of the more well-known and they are edible.
The Chanterelle Mushroom
These are funnel-shaped mushrooms that can be seen in orange, yellow, or white. They are a wild and meaty type of mushroom. They can be cooked and eaten on toast, in pasta dishes made unto a soup, or roasted and eaten on their own. Experts in the field of mushroom hunting recommend avoiding the darker and ombre orange-colored chanterelle mushrooms that are said to upset the stomach and have a very bad taste to them, although not poisonous.
The Common white-capped mushroom
These mushrooms are widely grown in Europe and most of North America. The “immature” white stage of these mushrooms are known as button mushrooms or common mushrooms. They are edible and are often added to pizza as a topping or maybe stuffed with cheese and other ingredients. The “immature” brown stage of the common mushroom is known as a cremini or chestnut mushrooms. They are good sources of potassium and protein. They would be great additions to spaghetti dishes, risotto, or chicken.
The Shiitake mushroom
These mushrooms are a type of edible mushroom found in Asia, mainly Japan. They are a great source of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins including niacin, folate and vitamin C. They are also known for their phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. They can be sauteed and added to pastas, impaired with asparagus, or included in a stir-fry.
How can you tell if a mushroom is poisonous?
The best way to know for certain if a mushroom is poisonous or not is to use a staining and examination technique used on spores. There are informational books on the subject of hunting and identifying mushrooms, however there are some species of mushrooms that closely resemble edible species when in fact they are poisonous. The best way to avoid any accidental poisoning is to follow the motto: when in doubt, let it be!
How to make the mushroom the star of the dish!
In the above-listed types of mushrooms, I briefly mention ways to incorporate them into various dishes. However, mushrooms can be the main event! This can be done by making stuffed mushrooms. They can be stuffed with a variety of ingredients. My husband has a secret recipe for jalapeno and cheese stuffed mushrooms. I don’t know the full recipe but I can confirm that he uses cream cheese, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, and 4-5 different hot sauces. I personally recommend using the large portobello mushroom caps to make portobello mushroom cap burgers or adding sauce, cheese, and other toppings to make portobello mushroom cap pizzas!