Did you know that mushrooms are a good source of selenium? Selenium is a naturally-occurring mineral found in water, soil, and some foods. While humans require only a small amount of this mineral, it is important for overall health; selenium has antioxidant properties, and antioxidants are key to preventing cell damage. Luckily, delicious mushrooms are an easy way to ensure this key mineral is a part of your diet.
This is but one of many fascinating mushroom nutritional facts. Low in sodium and without fat or cholesterol, eating mushrooms on a frequent basis helps regulate weight and blood pressure, as well as providing antioxidants and boosting the immune system. Mushrooms are also high in dietary fibre and vitamin D, two vital nutrients in which most individuals experience deficiency. Mushrooms also contain copper, a heavy metal important for humans in trace amounts. In addition, mushrooms are gluten-free – quite beneficial for the increasing numbers of people diagnosed with gluten allergies.
Another amazing mushroom fact is, not all mushrooms are limited to one season of the year, and local Australian mushroom suppliers have access to a multitude of varieties. While wild mushrooms are only available from February to May, there is always one type of mushroom or another available, and many species are available year-round. As opposed to other vegetables that may sit in storage for weeks, even months, prior to delivery to market, mushrooms are always fresh. By their nature, they must be eaten within about 7-14 days after harvest or they become “slimy” and may develop mould (how long mushrooms last differs slightly for sliced, whole, and cooked). The key to longer shelf life is proper storage – mushrooms should be placed unpeeled, unwashed and whole, into a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Freezing raw mushrooms is not recommended – they don’t hold up well and may become slimy once thawed – but cooked mushrooms can be stored frozen for 6-8 months as long as a freezer-safe container is used for storage.
As a meat substitute, mushrooms are the perfect replacement. Mushrooms vary in size, texture, and flavour, so finding the perfect meat substitute can be a tasty, enjoyable culinary journey. Most are familiar with the enormous portabella mushroom or the large, highly-prized shitake mushroom, but many other, smaller, less-familiar mushrooms are also wonderful meat substitutes. For example, white button mushrooms have a very “meaty” texture, so they work well as a meat substitute. And did you know there are smaller shitake mushroom species as well? The experts from Australia’s local mushroom suppliers can provide you information on all the various types of edible fungi available, such as flavour and texture of different mushrooms, as well as preparation ideas for many of the mushroom varieties they carry.
Since mushrooms vary in flavour and texture, tasting is the true test of which mushroom one should use. While some fans of fungi prefer large, meaty mushrooms, others gravitate towards the smaller, more delicate, more exotic varieties. Some like a strong flavour from their fungi, while others prefer a more delicate taste. The best way to identify your favourites is call or visits your local mushroom supplier, ask their assistance in selecting a variety, and begin your culinary journey into the world of edible mushrooms.