Mushrooms are also known by the scientific name Agraricus campestris and are actually fungi. There are a plethora of varieties of mushrooms many of which are poisonous. However, there still are a wide variety of mushrooms which may be eaten. Mushrooms may be harvested from the wild, grown at home, or bought at the store.
Mushrooms can easily be grown at home all you need is a cool, moist, dark space. It is important that your mushroom growing space be free of drafts especially drafts of dry air. Also, the temperature must be maintained between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you have determined an area that will successfully accommodate growing mushrooms you next must decide on a method by which to grow the mushrooms.
Mushrooms are commonly grown in trays; however, they also can be grown in bags and boxes among other ways. Trays are filled with growing medium and inoculated with mushroom spawn. Prepared trays may also be purchased. During the 21 days after planting the spawn the mushrooms must be kept at a fairly constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit in order for the mycelium or root system to develop. After the mycelium develop an inch of top soil should be added to the trays, and the trays kept between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Mushrooms typically are ready to harvest in 4 to 6 weeks after this. If you are careful with your picking and maintenance of your trays you may be able to harvest mushrooms for up to 6 months.
Nutritional Values of Mushrooms
The nutritional values of mushrooms will vary based on variety. Here’s an example of nutritional values for 1 cup of shiitake stir-fried mushrooms:
Total Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 7g
Daily Values of Vitamins and Minerals:
Pantothenic Acid 12%
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Because mushrooms are so low in calories they can help prevent obesity which is a risk factor for many conditions including: Type 2 Diabetes, certain types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Mushrooms are a good source of many nutrients including: the B Vitamins, Vitamin D, the mineral copper, potassium, and the antioxidants ergothioneine and selenium. In fact just 5 brown Cremini mushrooms offers 31% of the recommended daily amount of selenium in comparison to the 45% found in 3 1/2 ounces of turkey. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Getting the Most Out of Mushrooms
Choose mushrooms that have a firm texture and are free of spots and slime. When choosing mushrooms a closed veil on the mushroom will result in a mild delicate flavor while an opened veil will result in a bolder richer flavor. It is best to store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator where they will last up to 1 week. Clean mushrooms by brushing off the loose dirt with a damp paper towel then rinse briefly under running water. Do not soak mushrooms in water as they will absorb quite a bit of water which will affect the texture.
Mushrooms may be cooked in a number of ways including: sautéing, grilling, broiling, frying, stir-frying, and boiling. They can be enjoyed in anything from soup to sauces and even as a burger substitute. Many delicious recipes call for mushrooms.
Raw mushrooms may not be frozen; however, sautéed mushrooms may be stored frozen for up to 1 month.
Mushrooms Concerns and Cautions
There are many varieties of poisonous mushrooms so care must be exerted when harvesting wild mushrooms to ensure that only edible varieties are harvested and ingested.