Mushrooms

Types of Mushrooms

Types

Mushrooms are a type of fungus and can be cultivated or wild. The most common type of mushrooms are field mushrooms these are also called button and large flat, the button being a younger flat mushroom. Swiss browns are also commonly available in Australia. The more mature Swiss brown is called a Portobello. Most of the Asian mushrooms are not grown in large commercial quantities in Australia. These included shiitake, oyster, king brown, shimeji and enoki. Truffles are the most expensive and prized mushroom and are grown in Australia in Tasmania, the Southern Highlands and parts of Victoria.

Selection and storage

Avoid withered, slimy, pitted, or bruised mushrooms. For cooking whole, choose smaller mushrooms. For slicing or chopping, medium-sized varieties work best. For stuffing or barbequing, choose those with large caps. Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator.

Availability

Mushrooms are mostly grown inside and as a result quality is consistent all year round. However, mushrooms don’t like the heat so quality can be diminished in summer.

Using

To clean mushrooms, simply brush off any dirt with a soft brush or a damp paper towel. If you must wash them, rinse only very briefly under running water and dry quickly on a paper towel. Mushrooms absorb water easily and should never be soaked for cleaning. Mushrooms can be fried, stuffed and roasted or braised. Mushrooms are good with cheese, butter, beef, onions, cream and bacon.

Nutrition Information

Most mushrooms are good sources of B vitamins, potassium and selenium (an antioxidant). All mushrooms are a good source of fibre.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are a brown mushroom with an umbrella-shaped cap and a fibrous, woody stem. Their strong flavor makes them a good all-purpose mushroom and their firm texture can stand up to long cooking times. Their flavour and texture lends themselves to Asian cooking. They are also good in a casserole. It is advisable to remove the stem before cooking as it is tough and fibrous. The discarded stem can be used to add flavour to a stock.

Availability

All year round

Button Mushrooms

These mushrooms are Agaricus bisporus and are sold at different stages of development. Button mushrooms are a young Agaricus bisporus which are small, white and have a tightly closed cap. The inside of the cap is a light purple to light black. Cup mushrooms are a more mature version of the button which is slightly larger and has a partially opened cap. Cup mushrooms are generally sold as button mushrooms.

The flavour of Mushrooms develops as they mature so much of the flavour of button mushrooms comes from what they are cooked with.
Button mushrooms are good sauteed briefly in butter or used in sauces. Their size means that can be sliced in for a uniform appearance, this is much of the explanation for their widespread usage despite the greater flavour of flat mushrooms.

Availability

All year round.

Flat Mushrooms

These are a more mature button mushroom that can come in a number of sizes.  They are large with an opened cap with a black underside. They have a rich flavour and a soft texture.

Availability

All year round.

 

Swiss Brown Mushrooms

This is the same species as flat and button mushrooms, Agaricus bisporus. Swiss browns were the original type of Agaricus bisporus overtaken by the popularity of a mutant strain of the species which was white in colour, now sold as button and flat mushrooms. Swiss browns have a robust flavour and are sold as Portobello mushrooms in their more mature stage. They are a excellant all round mushroom.

Availability

All year round.

Other Mushroom Varieties

Besides the main types of  Asian mushrooms, there are other varieties that are sold in mixed packs. King browns are a large mushroom with a small cap. They are often imported from Asia.

Europe has many varieties of mushrooms not available fresh in Australia such as delicious porcini mushrooms which are available dried or frozen. To use dried porcini soak in hot water for approximatly 30 mins. Truffles the most valued form of edible fungi are prized in Italy and France and are now grown locally.

Oyster Mushrooms

A shell shaped delicately flavoured mushroom that is often imported from Asia. Oyster mushrooms are usually grey/brown but pink varieties are also available. A versatile mushrooms that absorbs flavours quickly particularly suited to Asian dishes.

Availability

All year round.

 

Shimeji Mushrooms

A Japenese variety of small mushrooms sold in clumps with thin stalks and round heads  that grows on trees in the wild. Remove from their base before use. Good for stirfrying and panfrying.

Availability

All year round.

Enoki Mushrooms

Sold in clumps Enoki mushrooms have thin stems and tiny caps. They have a mild flavour and a crunchy texture.  Use raw or in soups, stir fries and Japanese dishes.

Availability

All year round.