Mushrooms are a great ingredient that we like using to prepare our delicious dishes because they are so pleasant and distinctive in taste and texture. But what should we know about mushrooms in order to get the best out of our favourite mushroom dishes? We’ve gathered some useful information that could completely change our routine when it comes to cooking mushrooms, from store shelves to serving.
How to choose mushrooms?
The first step is incredibly important, as we need quality, fresh mushrooms to make delicious mushroom dishes. Champignons are one of the most common types of mushrooms we use in our kitchen. However, this elegant little white or brown button mushroom can easily fool us.
If we pick the mushrooms ourselves, we should only do so if we are absolutely sure that we recognize them and pick the good ones. If this is not the case, it is recommended to seek the opinion of an expert, as even a small mistake can result in digestive problems.
When buying unwrapped mushrooms at a market, it is worth examining, touching and smelling each piece carefully. If they have a strange discoloration on the surface, a mucous feel, they are just too dry or possibly have an unpleasant odour, we should not buy them. The same should be done even if we choose pre-packaged mushrooms. We need to pay attention to when they were harvested, packaged and when they are to expire.
Cleaning mushrooms before cooking
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the mushrooms need to be soaked to be properly cleaned before preparation. However, the exact opposite must be done. When soaked in water for a long time, they not only absorb water, which makes them chewy during cooking or steaming, but even the valuable nutrients and the pleasant, intense taste will be washed out. Instead of soaking, they are to be washed thoroughly under a strong jet of water, turning constantly so that all pieces are evenly touched by the water.
Mushrooms do not need to be washed many times, but it is enough to clean the soil and any dirt from it with a mushroom brush and it is not necessary to peel them, only to cut a little from the stem, as their peel also contains a lot of valuable nutrients.
We can also eat the stems of many mushrooms, including champignons, but it is very important to slice them properly, because if they are not cut to a uniform size, they will not soften evenly and this can result in harder, more chewy bites in the food. Many people cut the mushroom stem at length to match the size of the cap slices, but it is much better to cut them crosswise as they can be prepared evenly.
Storage conditions and recommended storage period
Although mushrooms are best prepared and consumed fresh, sometimes we can’t prepare them all at once. In such cases, it is good to have a few tips in our bag about how and for how long it is worth storing the mushrooms so that they can be just as delicious and tasty on the table at any time.
It is especially important to know that mushrooms should be stored in a dry, dark and cool place, such as a cellar, pantry or possibly a refrigerator. When it comes to packaging, we should not keep them in plastic, as they need to be ventilated properly. It is recommended to keep the mushrooms in the refrigerator for up to a few days and to only wash them before preparation.
If stored in the refrigerator, it is important to separate them from other vegetables and fruits because they can easily take on their smell or odour and even start to spoil sooner.
We can also store mushrooms in the freezer, even up to half a year, but it is not recommended to keep them for that long. If we want to freeze them, we have several options. The first option is to freeze the mushrooms cleaned, washed and sliced, so that it is enough to wash them with warm water before cooking and they will thaw sufficiently. However, it should be noted that raw frozen mushrooms take slightly less time to cook than fresh mushrooms. It is not recommended to put them in the microwave for defrosting, because they may change in taste and have a rubbery texture, which of course will not be pleasant in the food. Another option is to freeze pre-cooked mushroom dishes, or freezing pre-cooked and roasted mushrooms can also be a good idea because their taste stays almost as intense and pleasant as that of fresh mushrooms.
If we want to store our mushrooms for a longer period of time, but don’t necessarily want to freeze them, drying them may work, as well. This requires the fresh mushrooms to be washed, peeled, sliced and then dried, either in the sun or in a dryer, until they break when bent. Dry mushrooms can then be stored in a well-sealed container or jar until being used. To prepare dried mushrooms, they must be soaked before use to regain their original moisture content.
We hope these tips will be helpful and will encourage you to experiment with more mushroom dishes, as mushrooms are not only delicious, but a very healthy and nutritious food that we can use to make dishes that can appeal to any member of the family.