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Locavores’ Delight:
Make Room for Shrooms
Di Holker, Farmers Market Board Member | Coast Boulevard

Dried Oyster Mushrooms. Photo Di Holker.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Today at the market you can find brown button mushrooms, slightly larger cremini mushrooms and really big Portobello mushrooms – all essentially the same mushroom at different stages of growth. Some growers are introducing Asian mushrooms to the market: shimeji, maitake (also call hen of the weeks) and king trumpets (a large oyster mushroom). And then there are the greatest luxuries of all – the wild mushrooms.

Health benefits
High in antioxidant capacity, mushrooms have minerals that play a role in liver enzyme function and help detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Their potassium and vitamin C content contribute to cardiovascular health. Potassium and the fact they are low in sodium work together to help regulate blood pressure. They contain two types of dietary fibers in their cell walls: beta-glucans and chitin which increase satiety and reduce appetite, making you feel full longer and thereby lowering your overall calorie intake.

How to choose
Mushrooms – whether wild or domestic – should be moist but not wet. They shouldn’t be dry enough to crack; they should be moist enough to flex when you bend them.

How to store
Refrigerate mushrooms in a tightly sealed plastic bag, but slip in a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.

Extra tips
One trick with cooling mushrooms – start them in a very hot, dry pan and add butter and minced shallots or garlic once they’ve given up some moisture. Finish cooling until the moisture has been re-absorbed.

Fact
Mushrooms, though classified as vegetables in the food world, are not technically plants. They belong to the fungi kingdom.

 

 

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