Care of Amy Symington of www.ameliaeats.com
Unami in flavour, mushrooms have their own very distinct taste and texture and are one of the most unique and versatile foods used worldwide. They are a resilient type of fungus that can grow almost anywhere that is moist and dark. They will grow on any sort of decaying matter including bark, compost, mulch or decomposed leaves. Because they do not contain chlorophyll they do not require direct sunlight to grow and are most often found growing in forests or heavily wooded areas and they contain no blossoms or roots or leaves.
The spring and fall are when most wild mushrooms are ready for harvest and thus are extremely popular times for foraging. Culinary wise, mushrooms are beyond versatile.
From king oyster to morals to porcini to shiitake to your standard white button, sautéed mushrooms will make any dish that much more decadent. They make a great substitute for beef in soups, stews, and savoury pies are, with the right seasoning, a great addition in lieu of bacon, and are a nice substitute for seafood in chowders and open faced sandwiches.
When purchasing mushrooms they should never be moist or wrinkled and once you have them home be certain to immediately store them in a paper bag in your fridge. To clean your mushrooms, simply dampen a towel and wipe clean.
Medicinally, mushrooms are a powerhouse. They contain antiviral and immune boosting properties that have been used for centuries by traditional Chinese medicine. Currently, there is also convincing evidence that suggests mushrooms contain cholesterol and anti-cancer properties as well as protect against arthritis and cardiovascular disease.