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National Mushroom Month: 'Shroom Science

All through September, National Mushroom Month celebrates the wide variety of mushrooms available. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also takes advantage of the opportunity to educate people on the versatility mushrooms offer, including health benefits. As a result, mushrooms are gaining more and more appreciation as we learn more about them.

To fully celebrate the heritage of mushrooms, we must first learn about the Mushroom Capital of the World. Located just outside Philadelphia, PA, you will find a small town known as Kennett Square. Surprisingly, this small Pennsylvanian town produces over a million pounds of mushrooms a day. Each year Kennett Square holds the annual Mushroom Festival starting with a parade. Visitors also enjoy tours of mushroom farms or visit vendors to buy food and other goods.

‘Shroom Science

Scientifically, mushrooms belong to the fungi kingdom. Fungi grow from carbon and energy from dead plants. Through the study of mushrooms, scientists learn more about fungi, especially identifying whether they are single-cell organisms or multi cellular organisms.

Mushrooms contain a ton of nutrients. Because of this, mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamins. Eating mushrooms is a great way to naturally get copper, fiber, potassium, protein, selenium, vitamin B, and zinc into your body. As scientists continue to study mushrooms, there is hope to discover possible medicinal uses. These discoveries only add to the many benefits of mushrooms.

Mushrooms are either edible and non-edible. We find edible mushrooms in cuisine throughout the world. Almost all mushrooms available at the store are cultivated and not wild. These types of mushrooms are available year-round. The most common cultivated mushroom are the white button, flavorful cremini, earthy portobello, shiitake, and delicate oyster.

Non-edible mushrooms are often found in the wild, though many also grow in yards and lawns. However, it can be difficult to determine whether a mushroom is safe to eat or poisonous. For example, mushrooms that have red on the cap or stem are known to be poisonous. You should also avoid eating mushrooms with white gills, a skirt, or a ring on the stem. Because wild mushrooms are hard to identify, we suggest leaving the identification of wild mushrooms to professional mushroom hunters or forgers. Eating poisonous mushrooms can and will make you very sick and possibly kill you. So, when in doubt, don’t eat it!

Other mushrooms that we love…

1. Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane mushrooms are edible, culinary mushrooms. When found fresh and sautéed, some people compare the taste to seafood, specifically crab or lobster. But more than just a delicious dish, lion’s mane has been classified as a functional mushroom, a food that provides more than simple nutrition.

While lion’s mane can contribute protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to your diet, it also contains bioactive substances that support a variety of the body’s functions and processes. In this capacity, the regular use of lion’s mane may help your body function more efficiently and remain balanced in the presence of internal and external stresses. For this reason, many people are turning to supplements for ready access to the benefits of this functional food.

2. King Blue Oyster

The King Blue Oyster variety is a very meaty mushroom with a tender stem. This mushroom makes for a great meat replacement for vegetarian and vegan dishes and creates an earthiness to pasta dishes.

The King Blue Oyster mushroom is an excellent source of protein, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as potassium, with only 37 calories in one cup of sliced or dried mushrooms. In academic studies it was found that the Oyster mushroom significantly boosted the immune system and lowered cholesterol. It has been found that the Oyster mushroom has anti-inflammatory properties, and contains non starchy carbohydrates, such as polysaccharides, that may help prevent the occurrence of tumors.

3. Pathfinder Oyster

Pathfinder Oyster mushrooms are a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and other antioxidants like selenium. They protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases and help to strengthen the immune system. Oyster mushrooms are low in calories, fat free, Cholesterol free, Gluten free and very low in sodium. These mushrooms are great in many dishes including soups, stir fry, or even as a meat substitute. They keep their firm texture when cooked, which makes them a more- hearty mushroom variety. They are often used in Asian dishes.

4. Golden Enoki

Golden Enoki mushrooms have the classic look of Enoki, except that it’s cap is light brown to dark-brown in color. Its texture is tender yet firm with a crunchy bite and mild flavor. Fresh Golden Enoki pair well with raw vegetables, can be added to soup or sautéed. This mushroom is delicate and overcooking will change the preferred texture.

Golden Enoki mushrooms are highly nutritious, making them a great addition to your diet. They contain a wide array of important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, phosphorus, iron, selenium, thiamin, calcium and copper. The mushrooms also contain healthy amino acids and dietary fiber, and low in cholesterol.

Take a look at some of these interesting looking, super yummy shroomies below:

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