Vegetables for vitality: mushrooms

October 9, 2015

Thousands of varieties of fungi, including edible mushrooms, cover the planet. Many wild mushrooms are toxic, even deadly, so unless you're an expert, it's best to pick your exotic mushrooms at a supermarket or farmers' market. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of mushrooms, including how to prepare them.

Vegetables for vitality: mushrooms

Nutritional value

Packed into 250 millilitres (one cup) of common mushrooms:

  • less than 20 calories
  • a variety of B vitamins for energy
  • copper to support thyroid activity
  • potassium to regulate blood pressure

At the market


All but the most exotic mushrooms are available all year.

What to look for Choose mushrooms with smooth, dry skin and stems and no bruises. Buy only as many as you will use within a day or two.

In the kitchen


Keep mushrooms in a paper bag, or layered between sheets of paper towel, in the refrigerator for up to two days.


Just before using, clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel or a soft vegetable brush to remove dirt. Trim stems as desired.

Fresh ideas

  • When you want to add flavour to button mushrooms, trying using a few reconstituted dried mushrooms. These have a rich, intense flavour, while the buttons give the dish the texture you expect of mushrooms.
  • To flavour soups and stews, use the liquid from the reconstituted dried mushrooms, strained through cheesecloth. Add to sauces, too.
  • Brush portobello mushrooms or field mushrooms with oil, salt and pepper and barbecue or grill them as you would hamburgers. Serve sprinkled with chopped thyme.


  • Button mushrooms are white or off-white with round caps and a very subtle flavour and fine texture. Larger, open, field mushrooms have a stronger flavour.
  • Cremini or brown mushrooms are a milky brown colour with round caps similar to button mushrooms. They have a meatier, richer flavour and more texture.
  • Enokis are unique among edible mushrooms in having a crunchy texture and are best eaten raw. Creamy-coloured enokis have long, thin stems with a tiny button cap.
  • Oysters have no stalk and are creamy white to grey with a very delicate texture. They actually do have an oysterlike flavour, and it intensifies with cooking.
  • Portobellos are older, larger flatter creminis and come in a variety of sizes from average to extra-large. They have a rich, earthy flavour.
  • Shiitakes are quite strongly flavoured, with a meaty texture. The tough stems are usually discarded. They are often used in Asian cooking.
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