Learn About Mushrooms: A Fabulous Fungi

Author: Chef Toby

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What are mushrooms?

Mushrooms are a type of fungi that are edible. There are hundreds of varieties of edible mushrooms available, all of which grow from the ground. They vary in size, shape, color, and texture. A typical mushroom, like the common white mushroom, includes a short stem and a rounded mushroom cap. 

white mushrooms
Whole White Mushrooms

Different Varieties of Mushrooms

Common varieties of mushrooms include cremini mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, morel mushrooms, white mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms. There are also truffles, which are a cousin of the mushroom and are another type of fungi.

What do mushrooms taste like?

All mushrooms have a similar earthy, rich flavor and meaty texture. 

How do you eat mushrooms?

Mushrooms can be used in a variety of ways – both raw and cooked. In raw applications, sliced mushrooms can be added to salads. Mushrooms can be cooked in a number of ways, such as sauteed, roasted, and baked, and added to soups. Mushrooms are a common topping on pizza and flatbreads, make a delicious addition to Japanese onion soup, and are tasty sauteed on their own with some butter and garlic. 

Pizza made with tomato sauce
Kids Are Great Cooks Homemade Pizza with Mushrooms And Other Vegetables

Where can you buy mushrooms?

You can find mushrooms at any grocery store in the produce section. The common varieties, like the white button mushroom, Portobelo, and cremini mushrooms are available year-round at most grocers. Other especially varieties like morel, shiitake, and Japanese enoki mushrooms are a bit harder to come by and can be found by visiting specialty grocery stores. 

Most mushrooms are sold either loosely or in prepackaged styrofoam or plastic containers. 

How do you store mushrooms?

When you bring mushrooms from the grocery store, keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Mushrooms should last about 1 week in the refrigerator. You can tell they have gone bad when they begin to release liquid and have an unpleasant odor. 

Fun Fact About Mushrooms

Mushrooms are made up of 90% water! And unlike most plants, they do not need sunlight to produce energy. 

Did you know?

Mushrooms are not actually vegetables! Because they have no leaves or roots, mushrooms are not technically vegetables. However, the U.S Department of Agriculture considers mushroom vegetables because of their nutritional profile. 

Recipes Using Mushrooms

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of mushroom soup is very delicious and comforting. And while it may be easy to reach for a can of this soup, we suggest you make your own! To make this, start by heating olive oil in a stockpot. Once the oil is hot, saute onions, white mushrooms, and garlic together until soft. Season this mixture with thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Add in flour and cook until the flour is nutty and light brown. To the roux, add beef stock and allow it to boil and thicken. Right before the cooking is over, add in cream and parsley. Serve the soup with freshly baked bread (we have an easy bread recipe here on our blog.) 

Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms

These shiitake mushrooms make a delicious appetizer or snack. To make them, start by slicing shiitake mushrooms into thin strips. In a cast-iron skillet, add high-heat cooking oil and raise the heat to medium-high. Working in batches, deep fry the mushrooms until they are golden and crispy. Remove them from the oil and drain them on paper towels. Serve the mushrooms with a dipping sauce made with sour cream and truffle oil!

Sautéed Garlic Mushrooms

These mushrooms make a delicious side dish to a variety of dishes and are easy to make. Start by cutting cremini mushrooms in half. In a frying pan add olive oil, shallots, sliced garlic, and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are golden brown. Finish the mushrooms with minced herbs like sage, parsley, and oregano before serving. 

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