Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Mushrooms from
the Barren County Farmers' Market

Shiitake Mushrooms

A mushroom is an above-ground fruiting body, (or a spore-producing structure), of a fungus, having a stem and a cap.

Edible mushrooms are used extensively in cooking, in many cuisines (notably Chinese, European and Japanese).

Though commonly thought to contain little nutritional value, many varieties of mushrooms are high in fiber and protein, and provide vitamins such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), biotin (B7), cobalamins (B12) and ascorbic acid (C), as well as minerals, including iron, selenium, potassium and phosphorus.

Portobello mushrooms

However, a number of species of mushrooms are poisonous, and although some may resemble edible varieties, eating them could be fatal. Picking mushrooms in the wild is risky, riskier than gathering edible plants, and should not be done by amateurs.

The mushrooms you buy in stores are usually not gathered but grown under strict conditions. There is little if any danger of getting the wrong kind.


Button mushrooms

Button mushrooms are fairly rich in vitamins and minerals. The mushroom contains an especially high amount of vitamin B and potassium. Raw mushrooms are naturally cholesterol, fat, and sodium free. The mushrooms also have very low energy levels, five medium-sized button mushrooms added together only have twenty calories

Button mushrooms have a unique flavor that can be matched by few other mushrooms. No specific flavor can be defined; most people describe the mushroom as "plain", but other people say that the button mushroom tastes slightly sweet or "meaty".

Today's commercial variety of the button mushroom was originally a light brown color. In 1926, a Pennsylvanian mushroom farmer found a clump of button mushrooms with white caps in his mushroom bed. Cultures were grown from the mutant individuals, and most of the cream-colored store mushrooms we see today are products of this selective breeding.

There are many kinds of mushrooms on the market, many considered to be gourmet varieties. Here are just a few:

  • The Portobello mushroom is a large brown strain of the same fungus, left to mature and take on a broader, more open shape before picking. They are distinguished by their large size, thick cap and stem. They have a distinctive musky smell. These mushrooms can be cooked in many different ways, including grilling and frying.

  • Shiitake Mushrooms are standard in Asian cuisine and add a rich, earthy flavor. A light and delicate mushroom with a wide cap and a smooth and mild flavor.

  • Chantrelles - are light tender and delicate with a sweet and nutty flavor. Beautiful in color and shape makes them highly desired in gourmet foods.

  • Porcini - A great deep flavor with a taste of nuts, excellent for any Italian dish.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Selecting a quality product

In most supermarkets, button mushrooms are marketed as "table mushrooms" and are often packed in small quantities. Mushrooms may be sold sliced or whole. Select only thos mushrooms which do not have browns depressions or have a wet look to them. Mushrooms should be fairly dry when purchased.

Tips on cooking

Like potatoes and apples, table mushrooms turn brown quickly when exposed to air. When sliced and exposed to air for ten minutes or more, the mushrooms quickly soften, turn a brownish color, and lose their original flavor. For this reason, whole raw button mushrooms always have the best flavor.

Tips on Storage

Never wash mushrooms when you bring them home. Store in the refrigerator loosely covered. When ready to use, do not wash by holding under running water, instead, use a damp paper towel to gently wipe off any dirt you may find.


Mushroom Cakes

5 slices stale bread, crusts removed, roughly chopped
3/4 pound white button mushrooms, quartered
6 ounces each: Portabella mushrooms, Cremini mushrooms
2 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds
1 tbsp oregano
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp dry sherry or broth
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp virgin olive oil
Lettuce leaves,
     prepared horseradish sauce,
     fresh dill sprigs for garnish

Process bread into crumbs in a food processor or blender. Add mushrooms and process until coarsely chopped. Add sunflower seeds, oregano, parsley and dill; process briefly. Beat eggs with sherry in large bowl, add to ingredients in food processor, process to mix. Place mayonnaise in a large bowl, add mushroom mixture. Toss to mix. Form into patties, 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Cook patties in oil until brown, turn and brown on other side, about 10 minutes total. Drain on paper towels. Serve cakes on lettuce leaves, garnished with a dollop of prepared horseradish sauce and dill sprigs.

5 Mushroom Lasagna

1 box+ dry, uncooked lasagna pasta or freshly made pasta
2 lb. mushrooms, your choice
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
3 shallots or one small red onion
6 cloves garlic
3 tbsp dry sherry or broth
1 lb ricotta cheese
4 oz regiano parmesan cheese, shaved
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 lb mozzarella, shredded
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Saute shallots and garlic with butter in a skillet. reserving some mushroom slices for the top, chop the rest of the mushrooms and saute with garlic and shallots. Deglaze your pan with sherry, add cream and vinegar. simmer a few minutes and set aside. It should still be thin.

Beat eggs in a bowl, combine with parmesan, riccota, basil, salt and pepper and diced tomato. Spray 9x12 baking pan with vegetable oil spray and layer dry pasta noodles, dot pasta with lumps of riccota mixture, then pour mushroom cream over. You want to make this at least 3 layers deep.

On top layer, spread mozzarella. Arrange the reserved mushroom slices and slices of tomato on top attractively. If you are using dry pasta add 1/2 cup chicken stock poured into the corners of the pan and seal tightly with foil before baking. If using fresh pasta omit any added moisture. Bake pasta 50 minutes. Allow to rest at room temperature at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 green onions, chopped
Olive oil spray

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop stems. Brown stems, garlic and green onions in 1 teaspoon butter until golden brown. Mix with remaining ingredients. Wash mushroom buttons and pat dry. Fill buttons with filling. Spray 8x8 pan with olive oil. Place mushrooms in pan and spray tops with olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Fried Mushrooms

1 pound mushrooms
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
Seasonings, of choice
oil, for frying
Salt and pepper

Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Marinate the mushrooms in buttermilk. Marinate for 30 minutes and drain. Place 1 quart of oil in a saucepan. Heat the oil. In a shallow dish, mix the flour and cornmeal together. Season the flour with seasoning of choice. Dredge the mushrooms in the seasoned flour/cornmeal mixture, coating the mushrooms completely. Fry the mushrooms in the hot oil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Fry the mushrooms in batches. Remove the mushrooms from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate. Season with salt and pepper.

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