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Mushroom Season!

October 1, 2013, 1:58 am
Mushrooms aren’t really characteristic of having a specific growing season since it occurs year round and vary by type, but I am always prompted into my own "mushroom season" in the fall and winter months. With over 2,000 varieties, the uses in cooking applications are countless. Not only do mushrooms impart the umami flavor (the sense of meatiness in the mouth also known as ‘the fifth taste’), but they also are rich in nutrition. They provide a meaty texture that can enhance the flavor of a dish, be used as a meat substitute, and provide an earthy complement to a stew or sauce.

One cup of sliced raw mushrooms has only about 20 calories! But that’s not all - mushrooms are fat-free, cholesterol free, low in sodium, and also provide a source of:

• Potassium

• Riboflavin

• Niacin

• Vitamin B6

• Selenium

• Copper

• Vitamin D (when exposed to UV light around harvesting)

• Fiber

The active B-vitamins (like some mentioned above) help release energy from the protein, fat, and carbohydrates in food. This comes from the same components that product immune-stimulating effects and contribute to resistance against some allergies. The antioxidants in mushrooms may also help protect the body from damage that leads to chronic disease.

Cooking releases most of the nutrients found in mushrooms. When sautéing, be sure to add a little extra olive oil as these vegetables are known to absorb moisture very easily and rapidly. Season towards the end of cooking, otherwise you may draw out more moisture and end up with a rubbery end-result.

When purchasing and storing mushrooms: Buy mushrooms that are uniform in color and firm. They should not smell rancid or be moist. Store in a brown paper bag for up to a week (not in a plastic grocery bag). Do not use if they begin to smell or become moist. Do not wash or soak in water; instead, gently wipe off excess dirt with a damp paper towel or wet fingertips (rub gently to not break the skin of the mushroom).

Start experimenting with the different mushrooms you can find in your local market, grocery store, or produce stand. These delightful surprises are sure to add flavor, texture, and nutrition to any meal - so get cooking.

Happy Eating!


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