Fabulous Fungi? The Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms

Throughout history mushrooms have been regarded as magical and mysterious, a delicacy, and deadly. Foragers put their lives on the line when hunting fungi for medicinal and culinary use. Even today, foraging for wild mushrooms should be done with an expert mycologist by your side! Fortunately, at most local grocery stores you will find a tasty selection of mushrooms that are safe to eat.

Edible mushrooms offer many nutritional benefits including protein, vitamin D, potassium and other minerals, and antioxidants. Mushrooms contain compounds called polysaccharides that promote the healthy function of the immune system.

Many mushrooms have to be foraged by hand, while others can be harvested like a small crop. This results in a difference in price. You may want to occasionally splurge for these varieties of fabulous fungi:

Truffle, crown jewel of mushrooms, is one of the most expensive foods in the world. Trained dogs are required to sniff out truffles from beneath the roots of chestnut and hazel trees. Truffles are used in exotic dishes, side dishes, soups, and dips.

Maitake is a late summer and autumn fungi found at the foot of oak trees. Best harvested when young and tender to retain their flavor. These are wonderful for soups, sauces, and breads.

Chanterelle mushrooms are unmistakable with their cheery yellow-gold coloring. This mushroom has a woodsy, apricot flavor. Found only in the wild, chanterelles live in a symbiotic partnership with its host tree, allowing it to store nutrients it could not acquire on its own. Chanterelles pair nicely with eggs and over rice/other grains.

Crimini (“baby bella”) and porcini mushrooms have mild flavors and medium texture. Less expensive than the others, these can be used in a variety of recipes, from breads and muffins to sauces and stews.

Mushroom selection and storage can vary by type. Generally, mushrooms should be tender but firm to touch, not wet or gummy. Organic is best. Store in the fridge in a ventilated package to keep moisture out. Most mushrooms should be used within a week.

References

Organic Wild Mushroom Risotto

Traditionally an Autumn favorite, wild mushroom risotto can be enjoyed year-round. It’s an excellent meal on its own or can accompany a variety of entrees. Where possible, use organic mushrooms and rice for added health benefit. Be careful not to overseason with butter or salt, as the white wine, stock, and garlic will draw out the rich flavor of the mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Dried Porcini Mushrooms *(feel free to use a mix: Cremini, Portobello, Shiitake)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Onion Chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves Finely chopped
  • 225 grams (15 tbsp) Chestnut Mushrooms Sliced
  • 350 grams (1.5 cups) Organic Arborio Rice
  • 150 ml Dry white wine
  • 2 pints Hot vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley Chopped
  • 25 grams (1.5 tbsp) Butter 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh Parmesan Grated, to serve

Directions

  1. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes.*
  2. Once soaked, drain the mushrooms well.
  3. Gently heat the oil in a large pan, and add the onion and garlic.
  4. Fry for 3 minutes or until the onions are softened.
  5. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for a further 3 minutes, until browned.
  6. Once browned, stir in the rice.
  7. Add the wine on a gentle heat, constantly stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Allow the mixture to simmer, and slowly ladle in some of the hot stock while stirring until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is plump.
  9. Chop the porcini mushrooms.
  10. Add the mushrooms along with the parsley, butter, salt and pepper to the risotto mixture. Shave some parmesan over the top and serve.

* If using fresh mushrooms, in Step 1, chop and saute in olive oil until nicely browned, remove from heat and set aside. Add the mushrooms in Step 10, once the liquid has been absorbed from the risotto.

The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.