While cooking with mushrooms isn't difficult, they are surrounded by an air of mystery. They're not an animal or a plant, so the regular culinary rules don't always apply. Add to that their short shelf life and you are left with an audience that is
curious but afraid to try for fear of failure and time constraints. Here are a few of our top tips to help get you started.
To keep fungi fresh, they should be stored in the fridge. Ideally in an open paper bag but wrapping in paper towels could also work. Mushrooms have to breathe so no plastic. And they dry out quickly so just lying out in the open on the shelf is not recommended.
To maximize texture and flavor, mushrooms should ideally be used fresh. That said, sometimes it’s not possible to use all of the mushrooms you bought before they go bad. The best way to keep mushrooms longer is to freeze them. Lion’s mane may be the exception. They are so full of water I am not sure how well they will freeze. But give it a shot! You never know! The fresher the mushrooms are when you freeze them, the better they’ll keep and most frozen mushrooms will last in the freezer for a few months. It is not advisable to defrost mushrooms. This is because they can become soggy and lose some texture and flavor, so when possible, cooking them directly from frozen works best. To freeze raw mushrooms simply separate them, place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet until frozen then throw them into a freezer bag for the long haul! If you want to go a step further you can boil or steam them before freezing. This softens them up and removes some of the bacteria that might be hanging around.
Mushrooms are like a sponge. They soak up water and can become mushy if washed before cooking. Our mushrooms are grown in doors (unless foraging is stated) and are grown without pesticides so no washing is needed. If there is bit of substrate (think dirt), where it was plucked from its grow block, wipe it away or cut it off completely and discard. - The rest is edible. You can cut them or tear them apart into manageable sized pieces. Speaking of mushy and sponge like, use little oil if frying. You just don’t want them to stick to the pan. This works for seasonings as well. They will soak up that flavor and too much can be over powering. Trial and error with your own taste buds works best. You can always add flavor but it’s hard to subtract. Lion’s mane sometimes works best if pressed to remove some of its water. If you have ever pressed tofu, you understand what I mean. If not just place something heavy on top and let it drain the water away.
Eating them raw is possible with most mushrooms but it’s not recommended. They have an outer layer called “Chitin”which humans are unable to break down unless cooked. This could cause an upset stomach in some. Plus, you only get the wonderful nutrients if the mushrooms are cooked before consuming.
Low and slow or hot and fast. Making a soup? Cook low and slow to absorb all of the flavors. On the other hand, if you want a crispier texter in your dish use the hot and fast. Wanting a caramelized look and feel? Less stirring.
And last but not least. Have fun!! Mushrooms aren’t scary and they are pretty easy to master once you get the hang of. PLUS, they are good for you. Loads of vitamin D, fiber, B vitamins and protein. They help soothe joint pain and encourage a healthy immune system. So have some fun(gi) cooking!