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Produce: Mushrooms

Mushrooms can add loads of flavor and texture to a meal without all the extra calories! They're great in sandwiches, soups, and stir frys - which mushroom should you choose? Let this complete guide help take the mystery out of selecting and prepart

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-Mushrooms add lots of flavor and texture to a meal and only a few calories. Not to mention, they are chockfull of vitamins and minerals. Talking about Enokis, Portobellos, and Shiitakes may sound like I'm speaking a foreign language. But today, we're going to take the mystery out of mushrooms. When shopping, select fresh mushrooms that are firm, well-shaped, and free of any spots or molds. They should be dry to the touch and spongy but not soft. When selecting mushrooms, it's important to know that most classrooms can be purchased fresh or dried. Common cultivated mushroom varieties like White and Portobello are easily found fresh at your local grocery. While seasonal mushrooms like Morels and Porcinis can be found dried at specialty or ethnic grocers. Mushrooms come in many varieties. Let's take a look. White or Button mushrooms are your most common and widely available mushrooms and are available fresh or canned. White mushrooms vary in color from white to light brown and are great in salads, stir fries, and as a pizza topper. Portobello mushrooms are large, flat top with a white base and darker top. They have a rich and robust mushroom taste and a texture that makes them a favorite vegetarian meat substitute in sandwiches and dishes. They can be eaten grilled, sauteed, fried, or baked and are a great source of protein. Shiitake mushrooms are described as earthy, smoky, and woody. And their texture is firm and slightly chewy. You can find shiitake mushrooms fresh or dried in your local grocery or ethnic markets. Shiitakes are heavily used in Asian Cuisine like stir fries and sushi, but are great in pastas and soups. Chanterelles are delicious delicate flavored mushrooms. They can be difficult to find fresh, but check your specialty grocers for dried chanterelles year-round. Morels are a wild mushroom favorite to mushroom hunters in spring and early summer. You can find Morels at the grocery in season, but are most likely to find them dried. Morels are excellent sauteed in butter as a garnish or incorporated into cream sauces. Maitake mushrooms are wild mushrooms that resemble a coral reef. Their somewhat chewy texture makes them best for cooking and soups, stews, and stir fries. Oyster mushrooms have a mild taste, pleasant odor, and can be purchased fresh or dried. Their textures make them especially resilient to frying and cooking, so they're perfect for stews, stuffings, and dishes with a longer cooking time. Enoki mushrooms are grown and sold in large clusters with long stems. Enoki are tender and can be eaten cooked or raw. They are popular in Asian infusion dishes and can be found fresh or canned in most specialty and ethnic grocers. Wood Ear mushrooms are named for their shaped. They have a crunchy texture and subtle flavor that soaks up flavor from other ingredients, which makes them great in flavorful ethnic dishes. Porcini mushrooms are usually easier found dried than fresh. Their smooth, meaty texture and woodsy flavor adds a lot of character to soups, stuffings, and pasta sauce. Try fresh Porcini mushrooms stuffed with herbs, onions, and garlic for a tasty and healthy meal. Mushrooms are best when used within 1 week of purchase. Always store fresh mushroom refrigerated outside of the crisper and in the original packaging until used. Store mushrooms purchased loose in a brown paper bag which will absorb additional moisture. Don't clean mushrooms until you use them. Extra moisture can cause condensation and cause them to spoil faster. You can clean mushrooms by simply wiping them with a wet rug or paper towel rather than immersing them in water. When cooking with dried mushrooms, you'll need to reconstitute them first. Simply, placed dried mushrooms in boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes or soak them in lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Wild mushrooms have been hunted as a dietary staple for centuries, so next time you're in the store, don't be shy. Pick up a package and try some as a great addition to your next meal.