The benefits of consuming mushrooms are abundant. Of all the earth's natural substances, mushrooms are among the most medicinal. All mushrooms are low in fat and are a good source of B vitamins, including folate, which protects against congenital disabilities and may prevent heart disease. Many mushrooms also provide vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. In addition, each type of mushroom has specific qualities. Maitake mushrooms have cancer-fighting properties, while Shiitakes may boost the immune system. Morels provide seven amino acids, and portobellos, including creminis - or baby portobello, are a prime source of potassium. Even white button mushrooms contain more antioxidants than the more expensive maitakes, and studies show they may even help prevent breast cancer. Dried mushrooms have the same nutritional value that fresh mushrooms have, but with a more intense flavor.
Look for mushrooms with a firm texture and gills that are either pink or tan. Avoid those that are slimy or have pitted caps. If possible, try to buy whole mushrooms in bulk rather than presliced and packaged. If you do buy packaged mushrooms, choose packages with larger pieces and lots of caps. Dried mushrooms are sold by weight, so when measuring dry mushrooms for recipes, keep in mind 1 ounce is equal to about 1 cup prepared.
Keep fresh mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Never store mushrooms in a plastic bag where moisture can be trapped and cause the mushrooms to become soggy and slimy. Instead, store dried mushrooms in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place for up to 1 year - do not refrigerate.
Use a soft dry brush or paper towel to remove any dirt from fresh mushrooms before using. For hard-to-remove dirt, rinse the mushroom under a thin, gentle stream of cold water. Dry thoroughly with clean paper towels. Trim the spongy tips off white button mushrooms, creminis, portobellos, and oyster mushrooms; the rest is edible. The stems on Shiitakes are tough and inedible and should be removed. Maitake stems are also tough and should be removed or sliced very thin. Saute mushrooms in a bit of oil over medium-high heat, occasionally stirring, until any liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are cooked through. Use in pasta, soups, stews, sandwiches, or pizza. The possibilities are endless! Whole Portobello caps can be grilled for 4 to 5 minutes on each side and served to make meatless burgers. To prepare dried mushrooms, rinse under cold water to remove grit. Soak in warm water to soften. Important: Drain mushrooms in a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter, and reserve the liquid to use in recipes calling for broth, such as soups, stews, or risottos.
Did you know?
Mushrooms have been used in China and Japan for centuries to boost immunity and fight cancer and other diseases.
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