Farmers Market--Using Wild Mushrooms
All mushrooms are edible; some, only once.— Anon.
As the weather cools and misty dew replaces morning sunshine, I know that Autumn is just around the corner. But, my local Farmers’ Market is still in full swing. Last week a new item appeared at one of the booths—wild mushrooms.
Mushrooms—Such strange and curious little organisms. What other living thing springs from decay?
Looking more like a space alien than a product of this Earth, mushrooms come in every shape, size, and color imaginable. Some are round, perfectly formed disks, while others are an asymmetrical mess of stems and frills and gills, a glob of "wax", or a smear of slime.
Of the more than 120,000 species, less than 2,000 are suitable as foodstuff, and (thankfully) even fewer still are deadly. But it is that taint, that association with poisonings and accidental deaths that shrouds mushrooms in mystery and (at times) suspicion.
The famous French philosopher Voltaire was once quoted as saying, “A dish of mushrooms changed the destiny of Europe.” He was referring, of course, to the death of the Holy Roman Emperor King Charles VI. Historians blame the amanita or “death cap” mushroom on his untimely demise.
Unlike other plants with obvious fruits and flowers, roots, seed pods, and tuberous support, the propagation of mushrooms mystified horticulturalists for centuries.
When Linnaeus first developed the modern biological naming scheme, he applied the label "Chaos" to the world of fungi. And, unlike the comparatively heavy seeds of fruits and vegetables, the spores of mushrooms can be and certainly are windborne, able to travel across continents to new suitable growing sites.
Vive La France!
Although edible mushrooms have been gathered for many centuries, it was the French who can be credited with the successful domestication of the Champignons de Paris. In 1600, renowned agriculturist Olivier de Serres proposed that some mushrooms might be cultivated; in 1678 French botanist Jean Marchant demonstrated that mushrooms could indeed be raised by transferring the thin filaments that spread underground into a receptive compost and thus repropagate. In time it was discovered that the dark moist environment of caves was even more conducive to mushroom growth, so old stone quarries were converted to mushroom farms.
Fast forward to today. There are numerous groups, associations, and clubs dedicated to wild mushroom foraging.
This hub is not about that activity. I have not nor will I ever search for wild mushrooms on my own, or even with a group. I purchase all of my mushrooms from my local grocer, produce stand, or farmers’ market.
These are the mushrooms I look forward to:
Types of Mushrooms
Carb Diva's Mushroom Stew
- Earthy Mushroom Stew--savory vegetarian comfort food for a cold winter day
A rich vegetarian stew of mushrooms and herbs.
Name: Agaricus Bisporus
Description: These are the most common mushroom—the white ones that you find in the grocery store. They come in a variety of sizes.
Taste: The mildest tasting mushroom.
Uses: Can be used in countless ways and can be eaten raw. Serve in soups, salads, appetizers, and entrées.
- "Un-meaty" Vegetarian Chili
"Meaty" but meatless chili that doesn't rely on soy protein or frozen veggie crumbles.
Name: Agaricus Bisporus
Description: Range in color from brown to tan.
Taste: Slightly stronger in taste than the white. You can definitely taste the UMAMI when they are cooked.
Uses: Can be used interchangeably with white mushrooms.
Name: Agaricus Bisporus
Description: These are actually “adult” crimini mushrooms. They range in color from light brown to tan and can be 5 or more inches across in size.
Taste:Very meaty texture with a strong mushroom taste.
Uses: They are often called the vegetarians burger, because they have similar taste and texture as meat.
- Escoffier’s Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe | Yummly
Escoffier’s Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe Soups with chicken stock, unsalted butter, flour, fresh mushrooms, shallots, unsalted butter, egg yolks, cream, brandy, saffron
Name: Pleurotus Ostreatus
Description: Dense and meaty, ranging in color from golden to orange. Wavy, ruffled caps. Must be cooked to enjoy.
Taste: Have a nutty flavor and an aroma reminiscent of apricots or peaches.
Uses: Chanterelles are happy with many different cooking companions—sauté in butter; pair with poultry, firm white fish, potatoes, cream. Alcohol such as white wine, vermouth, or sherry helps extract some of chanterelle’s flavors and they work in perfect harmony with thyme, garlic, chives, or saffron.
- Oyster Mushroom Recipes: Our Favorite Ways To Cook Them (PHOTOS)
Although they seem exotic, they are some of the most cultivated fungi in the world. Eat up!
Name: Pleurotus Ostreatus
Description: Come in several different colors including white, yellow, grey and pink.
Taste: They have a very mild taste, anise-like aroma, and delicate velvety texture. There is a slight seafood-like sweetness—hence the name.
Uses: Great in stir-fries. Also pairs well with chicken or seafood, but because they are delicate add them in the last few moments of cooking. Large ones can be dipped in beaten egg, rolled in fine breadcrumbs, and pan fried.
Name: Lentinus Edodes
Description: Shiitakes have a light tan to dark brown cap and a skinny (often wrinkled) stem.
Taste: Unlike white or crimini mushrooms, they are soft and spongy, slightly chewy, and have a very meaty taste.
Uses: Often used in stir-fries and pasta dishes.
- Season steaks with salt and pepper.
- Heat large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil then steaks. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Turn and cook 5 to 7 minutes more.
- Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside. Add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the Madeira and cooked, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated and the mushrooms are tender.
- Return the steaks to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce.
Beef Filets with Shitake Mushrooms
- 4 beef tenderloins, about 6 ounces each
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2/3 cup Madeira wine
Description: Honeycomb-like with hollow stems and spongy texture. Morels range in color from light brown to almost black. Must be cooked to enjoy. A bit more difficult to clean and prepare than others. See the video for tips.
Taste: Deeply earthy, nutty flavor.
Uses: Unlike the other mushrooms, this one makes its appearance in Spring; it pairs perfectly with other spring-time produce treats such as garlic ramps and asparagus. Keep it simple—sauté in olive oil with some fresh garlic. Let the flavor of the morel be the star of the show.
Carb Diva's Mushroom Recipes
- Mushroom Risotto--Arborio rice with savory mushrooms and creamy Italian cheeses make a tasty vegetar
Homemade risotto with mushrooms.
- Chicken Tart with Mushroom Pate (duxelles)
Flaky puff pastry filled with tender chicken, spinach, an earthy mushroom pate, and a richly flavored tomato puree.
- Savory Mushroon Cobbler
Savory (not sweet) cobbler--a vegetarian meal of mushrooms and herbs topped with a savory crumb crust.
© 2015 Linda Lum
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