Saturday, February 20, 2010


A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, produced above ground on soil or on its food source.

Edible mushrooms are used extensively in many cuisines especially Chinese, European and Japanese. Mushrooms are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin Bs and D (after exposure to ultraviolet light), minerals including selenium, potassium and phosphorus.

Nowadays, you can easily find commercially available mushrooms that are sliced and washed and fortified with vitamin D.

Common types of mushrooms
The most common types of mushrooms sold in supermarkets here in North America as well as in Asia include:

White button mushrooms
The most common type of mushrooms and usually the most economical. They are frequently on sale and are available washed and sliced. Besides the above mentioned nutrition, white button mushrooms have been found to have cancer prevention properties. It restrains the activity of aromatase, an enzyme involved in estrogen production, and 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.

Brown crimini mushrooms
They look just like white button mushrooms in shape and size but are brown. Crimini mushrooms are a good source of several minerals and are especially rich in certain anit-oxidants and a number of amino acids. This combination of nutrients is very helpful in avoiding the occurrence of certain aliments and age-related cognitive disorders. They also help maintain an optimal immune function. Crimini mushrooms tend to darken as they age. So always look for those that have a fresh tan or shade.

Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms have a much stronger flavor than white button mushrooms. This flavor is intensified by drying. Dried shiitake can be stored indefinitely and reconstituted by soaking. The texture is different from fresh shitake and they generally don’t sauté well, but they are perfect for stews, soups, gravies and baked dishes.

In addition to their woodsy flavor and meaty texture, shiitakes provide high levels of protein, potassium, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They are also found to have anti-viral and immunity-boosting properties that help fight viruses, lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure.

Portobello mushrooms
This bigger “cousin” of the brown crimini mushroom is high in fiber and an excellent source of selenium (a very important mineral for optimal antioxidant activity), many of the B vitamins and potassium. Their polysaccharide and beta-glucan components exhibit anti-cancer properties.

Oyster mushrooms
The oyster has a more distinctive look from the other mushrooms and is frequently used in Japanese and Chinese cuisine in stir-fry recipes with soy sauce. It is a very good source of vitamin B6, various minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium, proteins and non-saturated fatty acids.

Buying and storing mushrooms
• Choose mushrooms that are firm, clean and do not have any wet slimy spots and/or are wrinkled.
• The best way to store mushrooms is in a paper bag and in the fridge. This will keep them fresh for a couple of days.
• If you happen to keep your mushrooms for 3 to 4 days, if they are still ok to eat, use them in a stew instead of throwing them away.
• Dried mushrooms can be stored for a long time (6 months to a year) if kept in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
• Pre-packed mushrooms can be stored for around a week in the fridge in their original container.

Check out these delicious recipes:
1. "Shepherd's" Pie
2. Mushroom and spinach pasta
3. Mushroom and asparagus pasta


Margaret Hale said...

Hi, Kelly! We've never met, but I came across your blog on Mixing Bowl and was inspired by your story and your healthy style of cooking. :) Anywho, I have the most incredible recipe for a Mushroom Tart consisting of as many variations of mushrooms you can think of...I've converted many mushroom-haters with this tart. If you're interested, I could send you the recipe and you could "healthy" it up! Have a wonderful day.

Kelly said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for your note! It's really sweet of you. I would love to try your mushroom tart recipe. Is it already on your Mixing Bowl page? If not you can send it to my personal gmail address:

I hope you like the content on my blog so far. Feel free to share it with your friends and if there's an ingredient you like to know more about or have a recipe for, let me know. :)

You have a wonderful day too!


Margaret Hale said...

You're so welcome! I will put the recipe on my Mixing Bowl page now. My username is TheChefNextDoor. :)