In a previous life I was a mushroom grower. Here’s a summary of how to use button and oyster mushrooms – the most common ones we buy in NZ. I wrote this for people who bought my mushrooms at the markets – hopefully it’s a helpful quick guide.
Storage – keep them in a paper bag or wrapped in cloth in the fridge. Mushrooms contain alot of water – their life will be reduced by sweating if kept in plastic or drying out if left exposed.
How long – use within the week. Once the edges start to yellow (oyster) or shrivel (button) it means they are on the way out. (They are still ok to eat – throw them in a stew).
Preparation – trim off the ends of the stalks to remove and discard any pieces of straw (oysters) or dirt (buttons) if there is some visible. The mushrooms don’t need to be washed and in fact washing them will affect the flavour. Use a paper towel to wipe them if necessary. Cut up the stalks for cooking or discard if not wanted. For oyster mushrooms in particular the stalks tend to be firmer so cut them into smaller pieces and cook them for longer. The rest of the mushroom can be torn or cut into pieces as the recipe requires.
Use – Oyster mushrooms should be cooked rather than eaten raw. They are delicate and don’t need to be cooked for long. The flavour is more subtle than button or portobello mushrooms so they will be overpowered by anything too strong in the dish.
Button mushrooms – can be cooked for longer than oysters and have a more robust taste.
Recipe ideas – saute mushrooms with butter and seasoning (they will absorb the butter so only use a small amount), add to an omlelete, add to soups and stir-fries in the last few minutes of cooking. See my ‘recipes’ for more idea.
Health benefits – despite being white (we think of colourful foods being better for us) mushrooms are great for us to eat –
- Vitamins B2 & B3 – 100g contains between 30-40% of our daily recommended amount
- Minerals – mushrooms provide selenium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus
- Good source of antioxidants
- Low in fat, sodium and cholesterol but high in protein
- A source of vitamin D but only when exposed to sunlight. I’ve read that you can up the levels of vitamin D by lying your mushrooms in the sun. Is this true? I’ll let you know what I find out.
Here’s a good link to more detail on the health benefits. (Crimini are what we call brown mushrooms. If they keep growing they become portobello mushrooms).