Mushrooms are so versatile. You can add them to salads, pizza, or stir-fries (some even eat them raw!). They give dishes an umami flavor, which is why they’re so popular in many dishes. They’re also nutrient powerhouses. They're fat-free, low in sodium, low in calories and also cholesterol free. Here are a few interesting things you should know about mushrooms!
How to tell if they’ve gone bad. The number one sign (and one you’re probably all too familiar with) is the texture. When they become slimy, they are starting to deteriorate. They are still safe to eat, but the texture won’t be as appealing. If, however, you start to smell a strong odor from them, it’s time to toss them!
You can develop an allergy to mushrooms, even if you’ve been eating it for years! This can occur when your body sees the proteins in mushrooms as ‘foreign bodies’. It responds by releasing IgE antibodies, causing the release of histamine, which then causes an allergic reaction. Symptoms include wheezing, runny nose, skin rashes.
Mushrooms are high in selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps the body to neutralize free radicals. It’s associated with a lower risk of cancers (like prostate, colon, breast, and lung cancer), so it’s definitely a good food to consume. Just one cup of mushrooms, provide you with 9 micrograms of selenium, almost 10% of your daily intake!
Mushrooms have more potassium than bananas. One cup of mushrooms will provide you with almost 10% of the daily recommended value, more than bananas! Potassium is essential for heart health and nerve and muscle function. Make sure to add mushrooms to your diet if you’re experiencing muscle cramps.
Mushrooms are considered the meaty ingredient of the vegetarian world. Because of their umami flavor (thanks to the guanylate content), they provide a savory flavor (and a chewy texture) to veggie dishes. If you want to make a vegetarian dish that will impress a meat eater, then make sure to include mushrooms.
Mushrooms are easy to dry at home. Simply heat the oven to 150°F/65°C and place the mushrooms in the oven using a baking sheet. Dry them for an hour, turn, and then dry for another hour. They should be crispy dry. Store them in an airtight jar, and to rehydrate them, you only need to soak them for half an hour.
Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of bioavailable vitamin D. And when mushrooms are grown in UV light, they have even more vitamin D. Just eating a small amount of mushrooms every day, will provide you with more than enough of your daily required intake of vitamin D. Perfect for vegetarians!
Eating them raw might be risky. While there is still debate on whether or not you can safely eat raw mushrooms, there is no harm in cooking them. Some raw mushrooms contain a compound called agaritine, but this compound is easily destroyed with cooking. So when in doubt, rather sauté your mushrooms to get all the benefits.
You can create mushroom powder at home. Simply pulse dried mushrooms (see point 6) until it becomes a powder. You can then use this powder to create a crust on meat, use it to flavor a casserole, or sprinkle it over eggs. You can even make a mushroom spice, by adding your favorite ground psices to the mushroom powder.
Brown mushrooms, white mushrooms, and button mushrooms are all the same species of mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), they’re just at different stages of ripening (much like green, red, and yellow peppers). The white button mushrooms are the youngest, then they become brown as they age (cremini), and finally when they are at their peak, they are called portobellos!