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Mushrooms


Storage

Properly stored mushrooms will last for at least five days.
Mushrooms can be frozen but they must be cleaned, cooked, and placed in a cup or 1 cup container to freeze. Don't forget to mark the date on the container. Frozen mushrooms will last several months.
Shiitakes should store for a week in your refrigerator, especially if stored under a slightly damp cloth.

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Origins and Culture

A mushroom is not a true vegetable in the sense that it does not have leaves or roots or seeds, and really does not need any light to grow. So what exactly is a mushroom? It is a fungus, which grows in the dark and creates more mushrooms by releasing spores. Mushrooms are found all over the world and have even been an honored food in many cultures. Ancient Egyptians considered mushrooms to be food for the royals. The French adored the fungus and began harvesting them in caves during the seventeenth century. Mushrooms didn't become popular in North America until the late 1800s.
Shiitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms have grown wild since prehistoric times. Their therapeutic value has been prized in Asian countries, where they originated, for thousands of years. They play a critical role in Asian medicinal traditions and were noted in some of the first books on herbal medicine written thousands of years ago.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Shiitakes are a good source of fibre and the B vitamins--niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. For centuries the Chinese have used mushrooms to enhance and extend the lifespan and to treat viral and other diseases. Recent studies suggest that mushrooms may help thin the blood, lower cholesterol, fight cancer and strengthen the immune system. In particular, shiitake mushrooms encourage the production of interferon, a potent immune booster that helps the body battle viruses and cancer.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

To ensure that you have a pleasant gastronomic experience, clean the mushrooms only when you are ready to use them. Remove any bits of the debris on the surface, rinse with cold running water, or gently wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, paper towel, or soft brush. Properly stored mushrooms will last for at least five days.
While shiitakes are available year-round, they tend to be the most abundant during the spring and autumn. Shiitakes are great in soups, Asian stir-fries, salads, pasta dishes, baked, sauteed, grilled (use lots of oil), or braised. Shiitakes make a wonderful side dish if sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Since they have a strong flavour, shiitakes combine nicely with stronger meats such as beef and lamb. You should heat shiitakes thoroughly when cooking, but do not overcook so as to avoid losing flavour.
To prepare shiitakes, trim the hard stems and use them for stock. The caps should be cleaned with a mushroom brush and/or a slightly damp towel. Avoid washing highly absorbent mushrooms with water.

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