Cooking & Consumption General

Sheerluxe – Mushroom Q&A

11 December 2020

Q&A with mushroom expert, Noel Hegarty, at The Mushroom Bureau

Why is now a good time to eat mushrooms?

Autumn is here, the nights are drawing in, the weather is turning a little colder and we’re all looking for those comfort dishes that evoke a little nostalgia.

This could be anything from warm hearty stews to dishes that transport our minds to warmer climes and countries which we are longing to travel to.

Mushrooms grow all year round but Autumn is typically known as the season for the wild fungi and they are great at adding a depth of flavour to stews, sauces and casseroles, and the perfect way to sneak extra nutrients into a meal.

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Spinach, Mushroom, Avocado and Bacon Salad

With winter approaching we all look for new ways to up our nutritional intake and mushrooms are the ingredient that contains a host of vitamins, just 80g of mushrooms serves as one of your five-a-day. All types of edible mushrooms contain protein and fibre along with containing approximately 15 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, folate magnesium, zinc and potassium.

The nutritional benefits vary depending on the type of mushroom but generally, they’re a good source of nutrients rich in B vitamins: riboflavin [B2], folate [B9], thiamine [B1], pantothenic acid [B5], and niacin [B3].

As well as containing B vitamins they also contain a powerful antioxidant called selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.

What are the best dishes/cuisines to make with mushrooms?

Mushrooms Generally

Mushrooms are incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into almost any cuisine. With a savoury, umami flavours like that of meat.

If you’re looking to reduce your meat consumption or add depth of flavour to a dish, they lend themselves well to being blended and mixed with meat dishes or as a replacement for meat altogether.

Some of my favourite dishes to add mushrooms to include:

  • Meat Dishes: Chop the mushrooms to match the consistency of ground beef and then blend them into the meat you’re cooking – This is a quick and easy way to incorporate mushrooms into your favourite burgers.

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  • Add to Eggs: Cut small mushrooms and mix into omelettes, quiches, or scrambled eggs at breakfast or brunch.

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  • Italian Cuisine: Sliced into pasta sauces – they add great flavour and texture.

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  • If you’re not a fan of the mushroom texture, try sautéing them with some olive oil to soften them up and add them into dishes!

Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms have large, rich brown caps with velvety brown gills and are often served as “burgers” or “steaks” because of their meaty texture. They have a deeper, more intense flavour than white or smaller chestnut mushrooms, which makes them great for roasting or baking, simply stuff with cheesy breadcrumbs and bake until tender.

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Button Mushrooms

They’re sometimes overlooked when it comes to salads, but they add lots of extra flavour and texture. They go very well with poultry and pork, aromatic herbs like thyme, laurel, and parsley and spices like pepper, cumin, and paprika as well as cream, shallots, pasta, and pizza.

And what are the flavour profiles/key characteristics of the above?

Button Mushroom

Button Mushroom’s a mild earthy taste and can be used in just about anything from salads to sauces. Their flavour intensifies when cooked, making them ideal for sautéing and grilling.

Portobello Mushroom

Portobello Mushroom’s have chewy and meaty texture and become more smoky and earthy when cooked and have a deeper, more intense flavour than white or smaller chestnut mushrooms.

Do you like to forage for them?

Yes, but I prefer to be eating mushrooms rather than forage if I’m being totally honest! With foraging, it is not sensible to consume any mushroom unless you are 100% certain that they are edible and not poisonous.

Foraging has become popular in recent years, but with so many varieties of mushrooms not all are safe for human consumption, so it’s important that you heed caution before dashing out to your nearest woodland. If you are keen on forging for mushrooms, start by searching for a local expert who can give you guidance on where to look and, more importantly, what’s safe to eat.

Have you got a favourite variety?

The Portobello mushroom is the one for me, it’s meaty, chewy texture leads itself as a great addition to any meat dish but it can also be the star of the show on it’s own. For me, it has all the bases covered, it’s widely available, inexpensive and versatile.

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