Quick Recipes and Easy

Food – An Introduction to Mushrooms

Mushrooms belong to the Fungi group. They are fleshy plants that grow from decaying materials. They need the nutrients that they get from the decay because they do not have chlorophyll. This means that they cannot produce their own food. They usually grow in the more temperate regions of the world and during the seasons when the weather is warm and moist. Mushrooms can most likely be found in pastures, meadows and woodlands. There is a wide variety of mushrooms and they have many different colors. Some mushrooms are brown or white while others are red, orange, or in shiny pastel colors. They also differ in shape and sizes. The most common mushrooms are small with thick stems and caps that look like umbrellas.

Inside these umbrella-like caps are thin sheets of flesh called gills. The gills grow between the cap lining and the stem. These gills house the tiny spores that grow as the mushroom ages. Eventually, these spores are blown away by the wind and settle on the ground. In time, these spores grow into new sets of mushrooms just like the seeds of other plants do.

Some varieties of mushrooms are tasty to eat. But, there are other kinds of mushrooms, like those commonly called “toadstools”, that are poisonous when consumed. Also others may not be poisonous but are still inedible because they are either too tough to chew or simply do not taste excellent enough to be served. For mushrooms that grow in the wild, there is no rule or completely safe way to distinguish which is edible or not. This is because the poisonous ones look very similar to those that are edible. To be safe, leave the wild mushrooms alone and buy them from the grocery stores and markets. There are markets in some European countries that sell wild but safe mushrooms. The more well loved kind of wild mushrooms are the “morels” which have unusually pitted sponge-like heads. Also well loved are the “horse mushroom” which looks a lot like the common mushroom but has an added collar around its neck and the ones called “puffballs”. These puffballs are perfectly round mushrooms that have no stems or gills. They could be very small or reach until 3 feet in diameter. These mushrooms are only excellent when the flesh is all white because if a dried puffball is squeezed, its spores will burst out like a puff of smoke.

The edible varieties of mushrooms can either be cooked with other ingredients or eaten by themselves. They are often paired with meat, combined with other vegetables, or made into soups or sauces. Mushrooms are simple to prepare because they don’t need peeling and both the stem and the cap can be used. But, they should be used only when fresh because they spoil easily. But nowadays, there are mushrooms that are grown and then canned, frozen, or dried that have longer shelf-lives.

Raising mushrooms is usually done in caves or indoor containers that always kept cool and moist. These mushrooms are filled with partly decaying flesh of animals or plants. On these decaying materials, mushroom spawn or root growth are planted. The mushroom grows rapidly and would soon fill the whole bed with tiny threadlike rootlets. The stems and caps of the mushrooms do not sprout unless these rootlets are well grown. The main type of mushroom grown is the “common mushroom” or the “field mushroom”.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to food-guided.com/ Food

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