A few months back, I went foraging for wild mushrooms with my partner and friends in a pine forest not far from the Jenolan Caves. I didn't know what to expect as it was my first time and, to be honest, my expectations were rather low. I should also note that I have a major phobia of snakes; let me not understate this point!
To my surprise, it turned out to be a wonderful weekend. There’s something primal and enjoyable about foraging in a forest with mostly no one around; just you, the pine trees and those delectable mushrooms. The mushroom cook-up at the end of the day, over a campfire was divine.
It was enjoyable, the freshly collected mushrooms were delicious and not a snake to be seen! Thankfully, we had someone with us who knew what they were doing. Some of the pesky buggers can kill you - not the snakes ;-) but the mushrooms! The prettier they appear the more poisonous they are!
The history of mushrooms in Australia
The first commercial mushroom in Australia started in the 1930's. Unused railway tunnels under Sydney were used to grow them. The limited space in the these tunnels forced the industry to move to Sydney's Hawkesbury district in the late 1930s where 30% of the nations commercial mushrooms are still cultivated.
Varieties of cultivated Mushrooms:
The common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is the most common in Australia. It's a mild tasting mushroom that can be eaten raw or cooked.
Other more exotic varieties of mushrooms are now also available for sale, they include:
Chanterelle; Cremini; Maitake; Morel; Oyster; Porcini; Portobello; Shiitake; Swiss Brown.
How to store mushrooms:
Select mushrooms with firm whole caps. They should be refrigerated as soon as possible or as soon as convenience allows. Do not manhandle, wash or clean them, only do so just before you use them, some varieties are more delicate than others. Store them in a paper bags, this will help absorb their natural moisture and keep them from spoiling, you want them to keep dry. Do not use plastic bags as it will trap the moisture. Mushroom are about 90% water, so do not freeze them, as they will turn to mush when defrosted.
Health benefits of mushrooms:
Edible mushrooms like maitake and shiitake have also been used as medicine throughout history. Plant chemicals and components in mushrooms may exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects, but the exact mechanism is still unclear and an area of active research. There are many studies investigating how mushrooms may also mitigate the risk of developing health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.
Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
They’re also great sources of:
Nutrients Per Servin
B vitamins, they are the only non-animal fresh food source of B12. They are essential eating for vegetarians and vegans.
One cup of cremini mushrooms contains:
Protein: 2.2 grams
Fat: 0.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 2.3 grams
Fiber: 0.7 grams
Sugar: 1.4 grams
We carry an extensive range of organic mushrooms - landing fresh every day, so give them a try! Remind yourself how versatile and delicious they are and can be used in such a variety of dishes. Look for them here..