Mushrooms are popular for their earthy taste by themselves or in many kinds of foods, but how much do you know about them? Follow these tips and you will enjoy them even more.
The button-type mushroom is the one usually sold in grocery stores. To find out if they are really fresh, look at the caps and see if they are still attached to the stems. When the caps have started to separate from the stems, they aren’t quite so fresh. If the caps have come completely off, they aren’t fresh and will start to decay, but you can buy them if you’re going to use them right away. They should be firm without any blemishes. It’s better to buy them individually if possible, because it’s hard to check them when they are packaged.
When you buy fresh mushrooms, store them in their wrapping in the refrigerator. They stay good for about a week if you don’t open the package. If you don’t use them all at once, wrap them in plastic or put into a plastic bag and poke a few holes so they can breathe. If you buy them loose, put them into a container just big enough to hold them, and wrap with plastic wrap poked with holes. This will help keep them fresh for about a week.
When you are ready to use your mushrooms, they are apt to be a little dirty. You can clean them one at a time with a damp paper towel, or swish them in cool water, or rinse them quickly under running water, but don’t soak them. They will absorb the water and won’t brown when they are cooking. Slice, quarter or mince them according to your recipe or the way you like to eat them.
There are many ways to cook mushrooms – baked, broiled, fried, grilled, pureed, sauteed, or steamed. Cooking them brings out their most concentrated flavor and sweetness. They have a lot of moisture so they don’t caramelize as quickly or easily as some other foods. They have to be cooked slowly to release their moisture.
Cook in a single layer in a frying pan with a little butter or oil. You should hear them sizzling while they cook as the moisture is evaporating. If they aren’t sizzling turn the heat up just enough so you hear the sizzle. As they cook, moisture will appear in the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until all the moisture is evaporated and the mushrooms turn a brownish color.