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  • Shirley Chibuoke

Cooking, Storing and Eating Mushrooms

Mushrooms, the edible fungi that flourish in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, offer a world of culinary possibilities. From the delicate and subtle flavors of button mushrooms to the robust and smoky notes of shiitake or Portobello mushrooms, there is a mushroom variety to suit every palate. They also add depth and umami to dishes.

mushrooms growing on a tree

Mushrooms boast an array of nutritional benefits, packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.When exposed to sunlight or UV light, mushrooms can absorb vitamin D and provide a daily source of it. They are also rich in bacteria that can stimulate a healthier gut.

  • Stuff it with cheese, spiced bread crumbs, and whatever your heart desires.

  • Use a roasted Portobello mushroom as a vegetarian burger patty.

  • Make a vegan mushroom gravy.

  • Simply eat it on its own, sautéed, roasted, marinated, etc.

Cooking With Mushrooms

Mushrooms are sensitive and will change based on the way they are prepared before being cooked, so here are some tips to make sure they turn out delightful.

  • Washing them: Mushrooms are sensitive to prolonged water exposure because they easily absorb it, but some kinds of mushrooms will require washing, so the best way to wash them is to quickly dunk them in a bowl of water and wash them. They shouldn't be in the water for more than 10–15 seconds. Always wash mushrooms before cutting them, and dry them out on paper towels for an hour before using them.

  • Using salt: salt draws water out of mushrooms, so salting them too early can cause them to shrink and cook in their own juices. Instead, salt them when they have caramelized or when they are almost done. Mushrooms are sensitive to heat as well; low heat will make them cook in their own juices, while high heat will burn them. Medium-high heat is the way to go.

  • Slicing them: don't slice them too thinly because they shrink when they cook. Slice them about half an inch thick to maintain some body and texture once cooked.

Storing Mushrooms

The traditional way to store mushrooms is in the refrigerator in a paper bag or a container with airflow. Mushrooms are best consumed as soon as possible, but here are some creative ways to store them long-term.

  • Mushroom drying: Slice the mushrooms thinly and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place them in a warm, dry area with good airflow, such as near a window, or use a food dehydrator. Once dry and crispy, store them in airtight containers. They can be rehydrated later.

  • Mushroom pickling: Prepare a pickling solution using vinegar, water, sugar, and spices of your choice. Clean, trim, and blanch them briefly in boiling water. Place them in sterilized jars and pour the hot pickling solution over them. Seal the jars tightly and store them in the fridge. Allow the flavours to develop for a few days before enjoying the pickled mushrooms as a savoury snack or a flavourful addition to salads, sandwiches, and more.

  • Mushroom powder: Clean and dry the mushrooms thoroughly, then grind them into a fine powder using a spice grinder or food processor. Store the mushroom powder in airtight containers or jars. The mushroom powder can be used as a seasoning to add depth and flavour to various dishes, such as soups, sauces, dips, or sprinkled over roasted vegetables and popcorn.

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