It’s Mushroom Season – Here’s What You Need To Know

One of autumn’s earthiest ingredients, mushrooms are rich in vitamins and low in calories, while an 80g portion can easily serve as one of your five-a-day. To celebrate the season, mushroom expert, Noel Hegarty from The Mushroom Bureau, shares his top tips for using, storing and selecting this versatile vegetable, as well as five tasty recipes to make at home…

Why is now a good time to eat mushrooms?

Autumn is here, the nights are drawing in, the weather is turning a little colder and we’re all looking for those comfort dishes that evoke a little nostalgia. This could be anything from warm hearty stews to dishes that transport our minds to warmer climes and countries we are longing to travel to.  

Mushrooms grow all year round, but autumn is typically known as the season for wild fungi and they are great at adding a depth of flavour to autumnal classics such as stews, sauces and casseroles.

With winter approaching, we’re all looking for new ways to up our nutritional intake. Mushrooms are an ingredient that contain a host of vitamins. All types of edible mushrooms contain protein and fibre along with approximately 15 vitamins and minerals, including folate magnesium, zinc and potassium. The nutritional benefits vary depending on the type of mushroom but generally, they’re a good source of nutrients rich in B vitamins: riboflavin [B2], folate [B9], thiamine [B1], pantothenic acid [B5], and niacin [B3]. As well as containing B vitamins, mushrooms also contain a powerful antioxidant called selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.

What are the best dishes to make with mushrooms?

Meat dishes: Mushrooms have a savoury, umami flavour like meat, so if you’re looking to reduce your meat consumption or add depth of flavour to a dish, they lend themselves to being blended and mixed with meat, or used as a replacement for meat altogether. Chop the mushrooms to match the consistency of ground beef and then blend them into the meat you're cooking. This is an especially quick and easy way to incorporate mushrooms into burgers.

Egg dishes: Cut smaller mushrooms, such as the button variety, and mix into omelettes, quiches or scrambled eggs at breakfast or brunch. 

Italian dishes: Sliced into pasta sauces, mushrooms add great flavour and texture. Named after its resemblance to a shell, the oyster mushroom is happy to accompany lots of ingredients – they not only work incredibly well in a stir-fry and rice dishes, but also in pasta.

Asian dishes: Originally from Japan, the shiitake mushroom works well in oriental cooking, eliciting its distinct flavour all around. The shiitake is sensational in sauces, soups and stir-fries. The firm cap and brown meaty flesh are what gives the mushroom its incredible taste. Elsewhere, enoki mushrooms are crisp white mushrooms with long thin stems and tiny white caps. They’re great in soups, stews and salads. Named after the enoki tree that it grows on in Japan, it has a slight crunch and a sweet, fruity flavour.

How should they be stored?

To prolong the freshness of your mushrooms, place them in a paper bag. This will allow the bag to absorb any excess moisture and stop them from getting mouldy. Don’t place your mushrooms near foods with a strong odour; mushrooms absorb aromas like a sponge, which causes them to expire quicker. Storing mushrooms in the original packaging and placing these in the main compartment in the fridge will ensure they last a full week.

Don’t forget that mushrooms can also be frozen. Once in the freezer, they can last for 6-8 months and can be chucked into any dish straight from the frozen – super easy.

Do you like to forage for them?

Foraging has become popular in recent years, but with so many varieties of mushrooms, not all are safe for human consumption, so it’s important to heed caution before dashing out to your nearest woodland. If you are keen on forging for mushrooms, start by searching for a local expert who can give you guidance on where to look and, more importantly, what’s safe to eat.

Have you got a favourite variety?

The portobello mushroom is the one for me – its meaty, chewy texture is a great addition to any meat dish, but it can also be the star of the show on its own. For me, it has all the bases covered: it’s widely available, inexpensive and versatile. Portobello mushrooms have large, rich brown caps with velvety brown gills and are often served as ‘burgers’ or ‘steaks’ because of their meaty texture. They have a deeper, more intense flavour than white or smaller chestnut mushrooms, which makes them great for roasting or baking – simply stuff with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake until tender. Portobello mushrooms become more smokey and earthy when cooked and have a deeper, more intense flavour than white or smaller mushrooms, making them a great addition to the BBQ.

Button mushrooms are sometimes overlooked. But they have a mild earthy taste that can be used in just about anything. They add lots of extra flavour and texture to dishes and work really well sliced into salads. They also pair nicely with poultry and pork, aromatic herbs like thyme, laurel, and parsley and spices like pepper, cumin, and paprika as well as cream, shallots, pasta and pizza. Their flavour intensifies when cooked, making them ideal for sautéing and grilling.

What’s your one top tip when it comes to mushrooms?

If you’re not a fan of the texture of mushrooms, try sautéing them with some olive oil to soften them up before adding them to dishes.

Inspired? Here are five recipes that make mushrooms the star of the show…

Baked Cod Parcels With Mushrooms

Packed with sumptuous mushroom flavours and a little splash of wine, this fish parcel is incredibly easy to make for a great midweek hearty treat that can be cooked up in 20 minutes. 

Yield

Serves 2

Difficulty

Easy

Total Time

30 Minutes

Ingredients

30g of button mushrooms, sliced
2 x 6oz cod fillets (haddock or any other white fish will work also)
8 new potatoes, thinly sliced
6 stalks of rainbow chard
Small handful of parsley, chopped
½ lemon, cut into rings
Splash of white wine
10g of butter

Method

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Step 2

Take 2 large pieces of non-stick parchment paper. Towards one end place a little bed of the sliced new potatoes, top with the rainbow chard, cod, chopped parsley, mushrooms and finally the lemon. Dot with the butter, add a splash of white wine and a little salt and milled pepper.

Step 3

Brush water around the parchment paper, fold over to cover all the ingredients, crimp the edge (like a Cornish pasty) brush to top of the paper with water and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Step 4

Serve straight away in the paper.
Beef Taco Salad With Mushrooms

Do a taco takeover meal with this simple and easy dish. Made up of healthy ingredients, this taco is loaded within a crispy gem lettuce wrap and served with a dollop of rich and tangy green chilli and coriander yoghurt.

Yield

Serves 4

Difficulty

Easy

Total Time

20 Minutes

Ingredients

For the meat mushroom blend:
300g of chestnut mushrooms, diced finely by hand or in a food processor
400g of lean beef mince
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp of taco seasoning (make your own with 1 tbsp each of paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, dried garlic and dried onion)
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced into strips
Olive oil, to sauté
2 little gem lettuces, outer leaves
For the guacamole:
1 avocado, ripe
1 lime, juice and zest
Salt and pepper, to season
For the yoghurt:
200g of Greek or natural yoghurt
1 green chilli, finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to season

Method

Step 1

Firstly, make up the guacamole by mashing together the avocado, lime zest, lime juice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Step 2

Next, make up the yoghurt by stirring the chilli and coriander into the yoghurt and season well. Set aside.

Step 3

In a sauté pan, heat some olive oil. Cook the onion and green pepper for a few minutes on a medium high heat, then turn the heat up and add the mince.

Step 4

After a few minutes when the mince has browned, add the chopped mushrooms. Season well, mix thoroughly and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add the taco seasoning and cook for 1 more minute.

Step 5

Lay out lettuce leaves on a large plate. Allow 3 per person. Load up each leaf with the meat and mushroom blend. Serve with a dollop of guacamole, yoghurt and sprinkle with coriander leaves.
Button Mushroom Tom Kha Gai

With lemongrass, kaffir lime undertones, shallots and chillies also diced and sprinkled in, this dish is packed with powerful and wonderful flavours.

 

Yield

Serves 4

Difficulty

Easy

Total Time

15 Minutes

Ingredients

6 large or 12 small chestnut mushrooms, sliced
Thumb-sized piece of galangal or ginger, finely sliced
2 sticks of lemongrass, bruised and sliced into 3cm pieces
6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1 shallot, finely sliced
3 red chillies, finely sliced
2 tins of coconut milk
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 lime, juice and zest
Dash of vegan fish sauce
Pinch of salt and pepper
To serve:
Bunch of coriander, chopped
200g of cooked rice noodles

Method

Step 1

Place the galangal (or ginger), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallot and chillies into a saucepan along with the coconut milk and heat slowly, gently stirring occasionally.

Step 2

Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and tomatoes and bring just below the boil.

Step 3

Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, the lime juice and fish sauce.

Step 4

Add the chopped coriander and lime zest and serve straight away with the noodles and extra lime wedges and chilli slices on the side.
Baked Miso Cod

A classic Japanese dish, miso cod is a beautiful seafood dish you can pull off at home. Baked to perfection, this dish offers succulent flavours from the cod and a rich miso tang, served with garlic mushrooms and sprouts. 

Yield

Serves 4

Difficulty

Easy

Total Time

35 Minutes

Ingredients

250g of baby mushrooms (button or chestnut), roughly chopped
200g of brussels sprouts
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp of softened butter
4 x 180g pieces of cod loin (equal sized, ideally fat)
2-4 pak choi, depending on size, cut into wedges length ways

Method

Step 1

Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan.

Step 2

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the sprouts. Cook for 5 minutes until tender. Drain.

Step 3

In a bowl mix the miso paste with the garlic and softened butter until combined. Take a tbsp of this mix and put it aside to top the fish with.

Step 4

To the rest add the mushrooms and sprouts and coat thoroughly (it might be easier to use your hands). Transfer everything to a large baking paper lined tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Step 5

Add the pak choi to the tray and mix thoroughly to coat with the miso. Top the skin side of the cod fillets with the remaining miso paste and place on top of everything for a final 10-12 minutes, until the fish is cooked.
Mushroom & Blue Cheese Quinoa Balls

These quick to make mushroom and blue cheese quinoa balls make for the ultimate light lunch, served with a chicory and watercress salad all topped with a light dressing. 

Yield

Serves 4

Difficulty

Easy

Total Time

30 Minutes

Ingredients

250g of mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
250g of cooked quinoa
150g of gorgonzola (or another soft blue cheese)
1 small bunch parsley
50g of walnuts
50g of plain flour (or a gluten-free alternative)
For the salad:
2 red chicory, cut into wedges lengthways
150g of watercress
150g of rocket
2 handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of honey

Method

Step 1

Heat a tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, then add the onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Step 2

Put the mushrooms into a food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Add these to the pan with the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Season.

Step 3

Whizz the walnuts and parsley in the food processor, add the cooked mushroom mix, blue cheese and quinoa and whizz to combine well (you want the mix to be broken down enough to shape into balls easily).

Step 4

Check that the mix is well seasoned before shaping it into balls and rolling in flour.

Step 5

Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Add the balls and fry for 5 to 6 minutes until golden on all sides.

Step 6

Mix the salad, dress, and serve with the cooked quinoa balls.

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