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Edible mushrooms

 

Few people are indecisive about edible mushrooms. They either love them or hate them. Yet these fleshy fruiting bodies of various species of fungi have a lot to offer to both your meal and your body.

What makes a mushroom edible? Edibility is defined as the absence of poisons and the presence of a desirable taste and smell. So it’s not enough that a certain mushroom won’t make you sick, it has to taste good as well! (Although we all know that taste is, well, a matter of taste.) Very few species meet these criteria, thus most mushrooms are considered inedible.The practice of eating mushrooms dates back thousands of years. The first reliable evidence appears with the Chinese, and continues through time to today, spanning many different cultures.

Different Types of Edible Mushrooms

Edible mushrooms are either commercially cultivated or picked from the wild. You can also try cultivating them at home on a small scale. (It’s a fun project!)

Commercially cultivated mushrooms are produced on farms and growing sites all over the world. Below is a list of some common species that go from growing room to grocery store. Click on the links for more information:

  • White buttons – Agaricus bisporus – The common white button-shaped mushroom in stores.
  • Cremini – Agaricus bisporus – Slightly larger, brown strain of the white button. Known for its firm texture and heartier taste.
  • Portobello – Agaricus bisporus (yet again!) – Simply a large, overgrown cremini. Popular on their own and as a meat substitute.
  • Oyster – Pleurotus ostreatus – One of the easiest species to cultivate, produced all over the world.
  • Enokitake – Flammulina velutipes – These long and thin mushrooms are popular in soups.
  • Shiitake – Lentinula edodes – These well-known mushrooms are delicious and good for you.

Wild mushrooms are a little trickier. Certain species have a mycorrhizal relationship with specific tree and plants. The fungus invades the roots of the tree, giving it access to energy-giving sugars and giving the tree greater surface area to absorb water and nutrients.

 

 

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