High-quality cultivated mushrooms are moist and firm, and do not need to be washed. At Greenwood Farm of Millville, we have many procedures to provide our customers with the cleanest and freshest mushrooms as possible. If you do need to clean mushrooms, use a soft brush and as little water as possible. Store mushrooms in a paper or wax bag in the fridge where they can be kept for a few days without drying out.
Do not eat mushrooms raw. Their cell walls are made of chitin, the same stuff as shrimp shells. When it is heated, it breaks down and is digestible. All bacteria and other undesirable life forms are killed off when your mushrooms are thoroughly cooked.
To prepare for cooking, cut off the majority of the stems and any remnants of the substrate. All mushrooms can be sliced and sauteed with success. Some of the thicker mushroom varieties, like porcini, puffball or king oyster, can be marinated and grilled. Roasting is excellent for the hardy textured mushrooms, like beech or maitake. A rubbery mushroom would be best in a soup or stew. Delicate mushrooms, like enoki, are best when steamed or cooked in stock. Frying is also fantastic for any mushroom variety. Cooking the mushrooms and then grinding them into pate is also excellent; spread on crackers or crostini, spoon or pipe as a stuffing. If you are planning to add mushrooms to sauce, cook them separately and then add them to help them retain their texture and flavor.
The mushroom flavor is called Umami, which refers to their meaty savoriness. Onions and garlic enhance the savoriness when cooked with butter or oil and herbs, especially thyme and parsley. Wine, cognac, dry marsala or apple juice are also various ways to create more complementary flavors.
When you cook a mushroom, it will release a lot of water, but that water is delicious. You can cook the mushroom until its water evaporates or even cook until they are dry and caramelized to make a duxelles, but I often use the mushroom water to make a sauce or save it to add mushroomy flavor to something another day (it freezes well). All the stems that you don’t use can be used to make a stock: strain and keep in your fridge for a few days or freeze it.
To preserve mushrooms in the short term, roast or saute them and toss with a marinade of oil lemon juice herbs, hot pepper, etc and store in the refrigerator. These are great for a week or so, and can be added to dishes as needed. For long term storage, it is best to cook the mushrooms first, and then freeze them flat in baggies to prevent off-flavoring or bacteria/enzymatic decay. There is only one USDA approved recipe for shelf-stable pickled white-button mushrooms, and one for pressure-canned mushrooms.
For our favorite mushroom recipes, visit our webpage where we list them, and feel welcome to join our free FaceBook group: Mushroom Recipes with Greenwood Farm.