Mushrooms are a low-calorie food usually eaten raw or cooked to provide
garnish to a meal. Raw dietary mushrooms are a good source of B
vitamins, such as
and pantothenic acid,
and the essential minerals,
Fat, carbohydrate and calorie content are low, with absence of
vitamin C and sodium
When exposed to ultraviolet light, natural ergosterols in mushrooms
produce vitamin D2, a process now exploited for the functional food
Known as the meat of the vegetable world, edible mushrooms are used
extensively in cooking, in many cuisines (notably Chinese, Korean,
European, and Japanese).
Most mushrooms that are sold in supermarkets have been commercially
grown on mushroom farms. The most popular of these, Agaricus bisporus,
is considered safe for most people to eat because it is grown in
controlled, sterilized environments. Several varieties of A. bisporus
are grown commercially, including whites, crimini, and portobello. Other
cultivated species now available at many grocers include shiitake,
maitake or hen-of-the-woods, oyster, and enoki. In recent years
increasing affluence in developing countries has led to a considerable
growth in interest in mushroom cultivation, which is now seen as a
potentially important economic activity for small farmers.
There are a number of species of mushroom that are poisonous and,
although some resemble certain edible species, consuming them could be
fatal. Eating mushrooms gathered in the wild is risky and should not be
undertaken by individuals not knowledgeable in mushroom identification,
unless the individuals limit themselves to a relatively small number of
good edible species that are visually distinctive. A. bisporus contains
carcinogens called hydrazines, the most abundant of which is agaritine.
However, the carcinogens are destroyed by moderate heat when cooking.
More generally, and particularly with gilled mushrooms, separating
edible from poisonous species requires meticulous attention to detail;
there is no single trait by which all toxic mushrooms can be identified,
nor one by which all edible mushrooms can be identified. Additionally,
even edible mushrooms may produce an allergic reaction in susceptible
individuals, from a mild asthmatic response to severe anaphylactic
Historically, mushrooms have long had medicinal uses, especially in
traditional Chinese medicine. Mushrooms have been a subject of modern
medical research since the 1960s, where most modern medical studies
concern the use of mushroom extracts, rather than whole mushrooms. Only
a few specific mushroom extracts have been extensively tested for
efficacy. Polysaccharide-K and lentinan are among the mushroom extracts
with the firmest evidence.
The Complete Mushroom Book: Savory Recipes for Wild and Cultivated
Buy the Complete Mushroom Book at Amazon
There are not many people who can claim to have been collecting,
cooking, and devising recipes for mushrooms for more than sixty years,
but Antonio Carluccio is one of them. Carluccio’s interest in
mushrooms—his mycological education—began at the age of seven when he
went on mushroom hunts with his father and has culminated in his Neal
Street Restaurant in London. Today, mushrooms are more popular then
ever. Chefs everywhere use these delectable morsels to provide a
powerful punch of flavor, without adding many calories or fat. The book
begins with a complete field guide, in which forty species are
identified with photos. To ensure safety, poisonous look-alike species
are also meticulously documented. Then comes a veritable feast of more
than 150 mushroom recipes—from classic Italian preparations to
Asian-inspired creations and contemporary dishes. Mouthwatering photos
accompany each recipe and evoke the earthy sensuality that only
mushrooms can bring to the table. In The Complete Mushroom Book, Antonio
Carluccio shares the excitement of the hunt and a lifetime of expertise
in the kitchen with a new generation of enthusiasts eager to reap the
pleasures of cooking with mushrooms.
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