By JAMES SZUTARSKI
Wed, June 18, 2008
With the lack of spring-like weather this year and a sun that does not seem to shine, our bodies are deprived of the much-needed vitamin D, which we absorb from those golden rays of sun.
If we cannot get vitamin D from the sun, there are several options in some of the foods we eat. One, in particular, is good old fungi, that's right, mushrooms. Did you know that mushrooms are the only natural fresh vegetable or fruit with vitamin D? They also pack an antioxidant-punch that aids our bodies in good health.
There are many varieties on the market. Each one offers its own flavour dynamic and texture. I personally have not found a mushroom that I did not like.
One of my favourites, which is quite well-known with most people, is the plain white button mushroom. It has virtually endless cooking qualities and tastes amazing in almost any recipe.
Freshness is of the utmost importance when you purchase mushrooms. For example, don't be fooled when looking for the perfectly ripe mushroom by its size. This is not a freshness indicator.
PICKING THE BEST
Here is how to select a perfect mushroom:
- The surface of the mushroom should be dry, but not dried and wrinkled. The appearance should be plump.
- A closed veil under the cap shows a delicate flavoured mushroom, while an open veil with exposed gills means a more potent flavoured mushroom.
- Always purchase mushrooms that are firm, with a fresh, smooth appearance.
- Once you get these perfect fungi home, proper storage and humidity are important for optimal freshness.
- Mushrooms will store well in the refrigerator for up to a week in a porous brown paper bag.
- Avoid airtight containers as they cause condensation to form which will speed up the spoiling process and the mushrooms will go mouldy very quickly.
- Fresh mushrooms do not freeze well, but if cooked first, will last the better part of a month before freezer burn takes over.
- Many people believe that mushrooms are grown in pig manure. This is simply not true. A good quality mushroom is grown in optimal soil made of compost that has been fortified with various organic matter. That means not much cleaning is required when preparing mushrooms for use. Simply take a damp paper towel or brush off gently with your fingers.
- Rinse fresh mushrooms under cold water immediately before use. Pat dry and never let them soak as they will act as a sponge and absorb excess water.
- When it comes time to cook, preparing the pan is important for sauteing, which is the most common method for cooking mushrooms. Always preheat the pan on high and add oil or butter. Never overcrowd the pan when sauteing. Too many mushrooms will cool the pan and cause the mushrooms to cook slowly, releasing the liquid of the mushroom causing them to stew.
- Saute single sliced layers on a high heat until the mushrooms shrink and turn a light red-brown colour.
- Always season with salt and pepper.
I hope the information I have given helps you next time when you are preparing mushrooms. Here is a recipe using sauteed mushrooms."
For the fabulous CREAMED MUSHROOMS recipe visit the Edmonton Sun.
Photo: Copyright 2008 Mushrooms Canada