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Mushrooms - A Delicate Addition

White MushroomsMushrooms are a delectable addition to just about any meal whether you serve them fresh in a salad, in a main dish or in a sauce. Some mushrooms are tastier or more flavorful than others. We have included information about some of our favorite mushrooms and included some recipes for you to try as well. As we go into fall, we tend to barbecue or grill a bit less and need inspirations for new ways to present indoor meals. Try some of the mushrooms we suggest in our newsletter today and bon appetit!

Selecting Mushrooms:
Select mushrooms which are firm and intact without traces of mold. Avoid mushrooms which are slimy or have blemished caps. Fresh mushrooms should not smell strong. Fresh mushrooms are very fragile and should be handled with care. They need cool, dry, aired storage. It is best to remove them from their package and place them in a paper bag. They are best when kept in the refrigerator crisper for not more than a week. Some mushrooms, such as the white, cremino and oyster mushrooms, freeze well if sliced and frozen in sealed freezer bags. They can be frozen for up to three months.

Their texture will change as a result of freezing, but the mushrooms can be used in cooked dishes. If you buy dried mushrooms, they should be stored in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator. 

Serving Suggestions:
Use the caps of jumbo white mushrooms as small bowls for dip. 
Mushrooms can be added to creamed soups. The best mushrooms to use with soups are chanterelle, oyster or shiitake mushrooms.
Sauté sliced mushrooms in a little butter and serve with meats such as poultry or pork.
To re-hydrate dried mushrooms, cover well with boiling water and allow to soak from 5 to 20 minutes. The liquid from the mushrooms makes a flavored broth, so don't throw it away. Allow any dirt to sink to the bottom of the container and pour off the liquid and use in sauces, soups and stews.
Keep some dried mushrooms in the kitchen. They are a wonderful staple. They are packed with flavor and are very versatile . Dried mushrooms are easy to store, so you can keep a variety of them on hand. When using dehydrated mushrooms, add them whole or in pieces to your favorite dishes. They are great in tomato sauces, cream sauces, soups, stews, quiches and omelets. Finely chopped or ground dried mushrooms can be used to garnish dishes at serving time. To add more flavor to dried mushrooms, soak them in broth, or add salt, sugar or wine to boiling water. 

Mushrooms do not require washing. Simply brush them to remove any soil, using a brush with soft, flexible bristles or a clean cloth. Be careful not to damage them. If you do want to wash them, wait until you are ready to use them. Rinse them under cold, running water - do not soak them as they will absorb water. Fresh mushrooms are best when added to simmered dishes only for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. 

Favorite Mushrooms
White and Brown or Button Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus mushrooms)
The white or button mushrooms are among the best known and have existed, particularly in parts of Europe , since the 1800's where they were grown in specially constructed "mushroom houses". The mushrooms are harvested with great care and delivered to consumers via markets, green grocers and supermarkets on a daily basis. The mushrooms are harvested by maturity and not by size. Maturity is reached when the caps are well rounded and the partial veil is completely intact. The stipes (stalks) should have short length to thickness ratio. The stipe should be long enough to permit trimming without cutting flush (even) to the veil.

Good quality white button mushrooms should be white to dark brown. The white button mushroom is the more common variety. The cap should be well rounded and have a smooth, glossy surface. The stipes should be straight and glossy in appearance. The mushrooms should not have bruising or discoloration. Mushrooms are graded as No. 1 and 2 - small, medium and large - these sizes refer to the diameter of the caps. Mushrooms are graded to assure a good maturity, uniform shape, cleanliness and trim quality. 

High, relative humidity is important in preserving the quality and freshness of mushrooms. When mushrooms become dry, the stipes and gills (underside of the cap) tend to blacken and the caps curl. Mushrooms can also discolor when bruised by rough handling. Mushrooms are packed and shipped in cartons with perforated wrapping on top to maintain high humidity. When mushrooms are subjected to freezing they will have a water-soaked appearance which will make them extremely soft. Button mushrooms can acquire strong odors, such as onion, if not stored properly. 

The white button mushrooms has a mild flavor with delicate woodsy notes. They are ideal for marinades or raw vegetable platters. Use the larger or jumbo size if you wish to stuff them. 

Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelle MushroomsThese have a distinct, peppery and slightly fruity flavor that varies according to color. They are good in quiches and omelets. Do not cook them over high heat as they will become tough. The mushrooms have irregular cap shapes and thick stipes (stalks). Fresh chanterelle mushrooms are a dark yellow, like an egg yolk. The mushroom develops its best flavor when cooked over low heat for several minutes.

Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster MushroomsThese are fragile-looking mushrooms but have a crunchy texture. Like their name suggests, they resembles oysters. The caps are dark with white stipes. They are fleshy mushrooms, have large caps and very short stipes (stalk ). They can be bitter when eaten raw, but have a mild taste when cooked. Before cooking the mushrooms, remove the stipes, as these tends to be quite tough. Do not cook the mushrooms over high heat, as this will dry them out. The mushrooms becomes a little elastic when cooked. Oyster mushrooms make a savory addition to stews and pasta because the large gills soak up the sauces. 

Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello MushroomsThese mushrooms are large with a rich, meat-like flavor. They are brown mushrooms. The dark caps are large and round, with a short white stipe. The mushrooms do not loose much moisture when cooked but remain firm and fleshy. They are firm and crunchy and have a rich, slightly sweet flavor. These mushrooms are harvested at a later stage of maturity. You can fill and bake the mushrooms in the oven, fry them in a little butter and serve them as an accompaniment to most meals. They are great when served sliced and grilled or great served in the middle of a raw vegetable platter. 

Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake MushroomsApart from the white or button mushroom, shiitake are produced in greater quantities than any other mushrooms. They have a strong, woodsy flavor. Shiitake mushrooms have flat, brown caps with traces of white. They are grown on tree trunks. They are very nourishing as they contain little fat, but are rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and amino acids. The protein content of shiitake mushrooms compares to peas and green beans. The mushrooms are used generously in Oriental as well as continental cuisine. They are popularly sold in a sun-dried form to preserve their flavor. 

When the mushrooms are cooked, the texture becomes firm and a little elastic. These mushrooms can be cooked for a long time without losing their strong flavor. They are great in stews. Remove the stems, as they are normally stringy and hard. The mushrooms have a wonderful mild flavor and a firm texture. The No. 1 grade dried shitakes have high quality large caps, sun-dried to lock in the flavor. 

Other Good Mushrooms
Other good varieties of mushrooms are the Cremino, Porcini, Enoki, Morel, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Black winter truffles, and Wood Ear Mushrooms.

Cremino Mushrooms
A crunchy texture and delicate flavor similar to the white (button) mushrooms but with a stronger taste. They are also known as the common brown mushroom. They have a firm texture and nice round shapes which make them ideal skewered whole onto vegetable or meat kebabs, or sliced on pizzas. The mushrooms are the most prized in the Tuscany region of Italy . They are hand-picked and sun-dried to preserve their flavor. They are great in sauces, soups or used as flavoring in stuffings and appetizers. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for about 5 minutes, then use them with the liquid.

Porcini Mushrooms
The Porcini mushrooms have a developed flavor, especially when dried. The taste is similar to cooked meat. They are wonderful when chopped, and added to a pepper sauce and served with grilled steak. 

Enoki Mushrooms
These have a mild flavor and crunchy texture. The mushrooms have tiny caps and surprisingly long, thin stems. Great as raw garnish for green salads or served in Asian soups.

Morel Mushrooms
These have a nutty flavor and a rich, woodsy taste. They are rare mushrooms with an aroma which makes them a favorite among gastronomes. Soak the dried morel mushrooms and use them and the water to make a delicious risotto. The mushrooms can be soaked in Madeira or hot water for about 20 minutes then used with the liquid. The mushrooms are very delicate in flavor and absolutely irresistible. These mushrooms are popular in the USA where they are sun-dried to approximately one-tenth of their original weight. 

Black Trumpet Mushrooms
These are among the most prized in Nouvelle cooking. The mushrooms are hand picked and sun dried. The tiny trumpet mushrooms are excellent in sauces, soups or flavoring in stuffings and appetizers. Soak the dried trumpet mushrooms in hot water for five minutes and use them with the liquid.

Black Winter Truffles
These are probably the most expensive and delectable mushrooms in the world. They have a wonderful flavor and texture and are used predominantly in France, Italy and Spain . They have an unusual nutty flavor. The mushrooms are only grown underground in the wild and are dug up carefully by hand.

Forest Mix Mushrooms
These are a mixture of wild forest mushrooms, hand picked and sun dried. The mushrooms are great in sauces, soups, stuffings and appetizers. Soak the dried mushroom in hot water for five minutes and use them with the liquid. 

Wood Ear Mushrooms
These are perfect for stir-fry dishes, soups, and sauces. They are best when sun dried and cut in julienne strips. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for five minutes then use them with the liquid.

Article by: www.eclecticcooking.com . Do you know how to cook a juicy salmon? How to avoid crying when cutting onions? How to prevent avocados from turning black?  Visit The Eclectic Cooking Ezine, portal to cooking and nutrition featuring freelance writers, doctors, and authors. Free weekly newsletter subscription: update@eclecticcooking.com

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.