Mushrooms are a delicious addition to so many meals. They can make a sauce feel meatier, add flavor to pizzas and salads, and have endless taste and health possibilities.
But are you doing all that you can with your mushrooms? As more and more varieties of mushrooms are becoming increasingly commonplace, there are many more ways we can be enjoying these flavorful fungi!
The trick to mushrooms is all about water content and ensuring that they arrive as fresh as possible. “Water dilutes the natural aroma of mushrooms and makes the texture, when cooking, sub-par. Mushrooms should have a dampness to them so that they remain fresh, but not moist or wet,” says Executive Chef David Codney of The Peninsula Beverly Hills. Keeping mushrooms out of extreme temperatures helps with this. “Nothing colder than 39 and nothing warmer than 50 will keep the mushrooms perfect. I like to place them in a thermal bag wrapped with a damp paper towel so the cold air doesn’t cause wilting and their cell walls to leach moisture. Getting mushrooms that are picked properly allows for less cleaning, this aids in the fact that you don’t have to clean again or possibly have to wash. Invest in a good brush dedicated to gently brushing away sand or pine needles,” says Codney. Once you introduce mushrooms to water, they absorb like a sponge, so gently wiping with a damp cloth is the best way to go. This is especially true for porcinis, chanterelles, and morels.
The most important thing to know about cooking mushrooms is that you cannot wait until the end to salt them, says Tanner Agar, Founder and CEO of The Chef Shelf. “They need to be gently salted during the cooking process. As mushrooms lose water during the cooking process, they absorb the salt. They cannot absorb the salt at the end, which means that you would be left with salty mushrooms that are bland in the middle,” says Agar. Salting during the cooking process creates wonderfully flavorful mushrooms.
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