There are several varieties of mushroom, which are grouped by size and shape. Small and round button mushrooms are picked before they open, when their gills aren’t visible. Cups are picked at the next stage, once the heads have started to open and the gills are just showing. Flats, such as portobello, are mature mushrooms with large, flat, open heads which show the gills. There are also specialty varieties such as oyster mushrooms, which are soft and fan-shaped; shiitake, which have a spongy round cap and a meaty texture; and enoki, which have slender, cream-coloured stalks and a head about the size of a pea, with a mild flavour and crisp texture. All mushrooms will vary in colour – ranging from white to brown.
Choose mushrooms that feel firm. Avoid wilted, damaged or slimy mushrooms.
Store mushrooms in a cloth or paper bag in the fridge for up to three days.
Wipe dirt off mushrooms with a damp cloth or paper towel. There is no need to peel or wash them. You can eat all parts of a mushroom, either raw or cooked. Mushrooms have a meaty texture, making them great meat substitutes in most meals.
4 quick ways with mushrooms
This healthy soup is a treat on cold evenings. Sauté a chopped onion for 2 minutes. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic, 300g sliced button mushrooms and 1 peeled and chopped potato. Cook for 2 more minutes. Add 2 cups each salt-reduced stock and water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until potato is tender. Remove from heat, cool slightly, then blend until smooth. Stir through a dollop of light sour cream before serving.
Even meat lovers will enjoy this delicious burger. Spray 4 portobello mushrooms with oil and grill for 4 minutes each side, until tender. Combine 1/4 cup pesto and 1/4 cup low-fat mayo in a bowl. Spread over 4 split hamburger buns. Place grilled mushrooms on buns and add your favourite burger toppings.
Make your steak sing with this delicious mushroom sauce. Sauté 200g sliced mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon plain flour, stir for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Combine 2/3 cup reduced-salt stock, 1/4 cup light thickened cream and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Add to mushrooms, stirring. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2–3 minutes, until sauce thickens.
A simple snack or delicious entrée: Remove the stems from 10 mushroom cups. Spray tops with oil and grill for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop stems and sauté with garlic and a diced tomato. Transfer mixture to a bowl and combine with 1/4 cup each breadcrumbs and reduced-fat mozzarella. Fill mushrooms with mixture and grill under high heat until cheese melts.
Did you know? Mushrooms are a good source of the B vitamins.