Mushroom tips

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You can find a increasing number of varieties of mushrooms at supermarkets, specialty food shops and farmers' markets. Cremini (which look like a brown variant of common white button mushrooms), Portobellos, shiitakes and enoki are among the most readily available, but oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, cŠpes (porcini), black trumpets, morels, hen of the woods, chicken of the woods, hedgehog and lobster mushrooms are just a few of the types you'll find ~ Whether you're looking for cultivated or wild mushrooms, choose firm, fresh-looking unblemished specimens with intact gills or pores.

~ If you have trouble finding mushrooms where you live, the following sources will gladly ship a wide selection of cultivated and seasonally foraged mushrooms to your door year-round.

: Aux Delices des Bois (800-666-1232) : Gourmet Mushrooms (707-823-1743) : Hans Johansson's ..............

: Mushrooms and More (914-232-2107) ~ Store fresh mushrooms unwashed in the refrigerator in paper bag.

~ Do not clean mushrooms until you are ready to cook them.

~ To prepare them for cooking, trim off any blemishes and tough stems or stem ends. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a moist cloth if they're not dirty; wash them thoroughly in cool water if they are.

(Author's Note: Washing is a controversial issue, and many people claim that you should not do it. Washing may add a little water to the mushrooms, but that water will evaporate during cooking.) (Diane's Personal Note: I never wash mushrooms. Use a moist paper towel or a soft mushroom brush to clean them.) ~ Cook all wild mushrooms thoroughly (for at least 15-20 minutes).

Some types, such as morels, can cause a severe reaction if they're undercooked.

~ Dry sliced wild mushrooms on a wire rack in the hot sun or in a 150øF oven, then pack them in airtight containers or sturdy plastic bags and store them in the cupboard.

~ To freeze quantities of wild mushrooms, first cut them into pieces and roast them in a 400øF oven for 45 minutes. Then pack the mushrooms in small, sturdy plastic bags with their juices, squeeze out the air and freeze them. This way the liquid can be used in soup and the drained mushrooms can be saut‚ed with herbs, garlic and onion.

Food and Wine

October 1995

Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 11-07-95

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