Varieties: There are a number of varieties sold in Australia – the most common being White mushrooms, which come in three sizes – button (the smallest size, with closed ‘gills’), cup and flat. Flat mushrooms have dark-coloured ‘gills’ that are fully open, and a dense texture. Other speciality types of mushrooms include: Oyster, which have a fan shape; Shiitake, which has a brown top and greyish gills and a distinct meaty texture; Swiss browns, which are light brown in colour; Enoki, which have a long slender stalk and a head about the size of a pea; and Portobello, which are very large and flat.
Buying: Select mushrooms that are dry and firm. They may have a bit of dirt on them, but that can be easily wiped away. Avoid ones that are slimy or wilted.
Storing: Store mushrooms in a cloth or paper bag in the fridge and use within three days.
Preparing: Mushrooms shouldn’t be washed or peeled. Simply wipe them with a damp cloth. Both the head and the stalk can be used, and mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked. Add them to salads, soups, stews or stir-fries; grill for a delicious breakfast side or a dinner entrée; make them a pizza topping or bake them and add them to homemade burgers.
4 quick ways with mushrooms
As an alternative to carrots and celery sticks, try ‘crispy’ mushrooms: Wipe 25 mushrooms clean. In a plastic bag, mix 1 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes with 1/4 cup sesame seeds. Dip mushrooms in a beaten egg, add to plastic bag and shake to coat. Remove and arrange on a lined baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes at 180ºC and serve with your favourite dip (try using a roasted capsicum dip).
Try this easy side dish: combine 3 large handfuls of button mushrooms with 2 handfuls of halved Swiss brown mushrooms in a large baking dish. Spray with oil, add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, some thyme leaves and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and bake in a preheated oven at 200ºC for 20–25 minutes. Before serving, top with crumbled reduced-fat feta.
Make your omelette a mushroom-filled treat by adding sliced, cooked mushrooms, chopped chives, green onions and grated Swiss cheese.
For a light meal, top roasted flat mushrooms with a mixture of reduced-fat ricotta, chopped green onions, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan. Grill until the cheese turns golden and serve with a green salad.
Did you know? Studies show that mushrooms have a convincingly ‘meaty’ texture in casseroles, sauces and stews – but unlike meat, they’re a low-kJ food.