Fungi in the news

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sat Jan 22 17:27:06 EST 2000


The following is rom The Oregonian’s FOODday, 1/18/2000, p FD1, and is
posted as a courtesy.

EARTHY DELIGHTS

by Amy Martinez Starke, The Oregonian

	Americans aren’t in the dark about mushrooms anymore.
	A nation of former fungiphobes is slowly starting to see the light
about this earthy delight, and a market that until recently was driven
by canned and the popular white button - or “regular” - mushrooms has
moved into portobello, shiitake and more exotic varieties.
	The money for growers, however, is still in the conventional white
button mushroom. This agaricus species makes up over 90 percent of the
fresh mushroom production, which was 848 million pounds during the 1997-
98 season, trade groups say.
	While fresh mushroom consumption has been growing twice as fast as
consumption of fresh vegetables, “Most consumers still want a perfect
white mushroom,” says Robert Darm, a Yamhill county grower.
	Even so, the industry is looking to specialty mushrooms, which make
up only a tiny percentage of the market, for future growth. U.S.
Department of Agriculture figures show sales of specialty mushrooms are
increasing seven times as fast as sales of mushrooms as a whole.
	Consumers who enjoy eating exotic mushrooms can find shiitake,
oyster, pompom and king oyster mushrooms in the market.
	“The real news is the emergence of farmed specialty mushrooms,” with
portobello leading the way, says Jack Czarnecki, owner of the Joel
Palmer House in Dayton and author of “Portobello Cookbook.”
	In a triumph of marketing, the portobello mushroom, once considered
an oddball - shunned and discarded - came out of nowhere in 1985 and
started to take off in the early ‘90s. It has become a major food item
in the past five years, capturing 8 percent of the mushroom market.
	Despite the fancy name, portobellos are nothing more than mature
brown mushrooms - “cremini on steroids,” says Czarnecki. Cremini are
brown variations of the white button mushroom.
	In an ironic twist, you may even see creminis marketed as “baby
portobellos.”
	Portobellos have a more distinct flavor than cremini because they’re
older and more developed, and they are more expensive than cremini
because they require more space to grow.
	Mushrooms not likely to be farm-cultivated include chanterelles and
morels. That’s because it’s very difficult (and expensive)  to cultivate
wild mushrooms that naturally grow on logs, and they aren’t profitable
for farmers.

>From spores to sautes
	Mushroom cultivation is at least four centuries old. It’s an unusual
form of agriculture in that it’s done year round, indoors. Some 55
percent of America’s mushrooms are produced in Pennsylvania and about 16
percent in California. No other states approach those percentages.
	There are hundreds of mushorom farms in Oregon, according to the
Agri-Business Council of Oregon. A large one, Pictsweet in Salem, puts
out 21 million pounds of product each year. A small one, Yamhill County
Mushrooms, does 2.5 million pounds a year. There are uncounted numbers
of smaller shiitake farmers.
	Because of their short shelf life, mushrooms in your stores in
general, are locally grown.
	“If we don’t grow it here, we don’t ship it,” says Harry De Turk,
manager of Pictsweet.
	It’s commonly thought that mushroom farms are dank, musty-smelling
places, but in reality they are earthy - and smell of mushrooms.
	To create consistent results, mushroom farmers replicate nature in a
dark concrete hothouse. White and brown mushrooms are grown in beds of
thick, dark compost - stacked like bunkbeds eight beds high, in trays or
tunnels, in a temperature-controlled, automated environment on a
computer-controlled schedule.
	“Mushroom farming is more like IBM than agriculture,” says Bart
Minor, president of the national Mushroom Council.
	Shiitakes, oyster, enoki and pompom are grown in bags of hardwood
sawdust, not in trays.
	The stereotype is that mushrooms grow in manure, but the compost
used is actually a blend of ingredients, stererilized to kill bad
organisms and encourage the growth of benign bacteria.
	Mushroom farmers use agricultural byproducts and waste from farms -
hay, corn cobs, chicken manure, cottonseed meal, grape hulls and such -
for compost. “It’s the ultimate recycling,” says Minor. “We like to
think it’s environmenally friendly.”
	Used mushroom compost of often sold as potting soil.
	Pictsweet, which supplies Nature’s Northwest, Pizza Hut,
Gardenburger and Costco, has Oregon tilth organic certification for
creminis and portobellos. At some point, it hopes to be designated
organic for white button mushrooms.

Varieties and versatility
	Stores are devoting more space to mushrooms.
	“Supermarkets have gone from a 6-inch shelf space of white mushrooms
and sliced white mushrooms to a pretty, 4-foot display that has all
different varieties,” says James Angelucci of Philips Mushroom farms in
Kennett Square, Pa., one of the largest U.S. growers.
	Mushrooms in Portland-area supermarkets are selling for about $2.99
per pound for bulk white mushrooms and brown cremini (a brown mushroom
related to the white mushroom) - or 99 cents per pound on sale.
Portobellos command about $7 per pound, and shiitakes can be had for
about $10.
	It’s hard to imagine that something from the produce section could
lend itself to so many kinds of cooking. Sliced and sauteed, breaded and
fried, diced in sauces or raw in salads, from nouvelle cuisine to down-
home cooking, mushroom use is limited only by the cook’s imagination.
	Educating the American consumer about flavorful mushrooms is a
challenge. Mushroom farmers and serious cooks agree that open-gilled
mushrooms - those in which the cap has pulled away from the stem and the
gills and spores underneath show - have more flavor; brown pigmentation,
gills and spores indicate that the mushroom is mature and has a more
intense, mushroomy flavor.
	Europeans prefer open-gilled mushrooms, so that’s what markets sell
there. But Americans go for eye appeal and closed caps, so that’s what
most mushroom farmers grow here.
	“We’re market-driven, and appearance is the big factor,” says De
Turk of Pictsweet.
	“Eat ‘em when they’re ugly,” advises James Hammond, owner of Hazel
Dell Mushrooms in Watsonville, Calif. “They are better when they are
funky-looking.”

New mushroom products
	You may see mushroom sampler packs, with several varieties packaged
together, at the supermarket. And you’ll see more and more usage of
mushrooms as ingredients.
	Look for: Prego portobello spaghetti sauce, Gardenburger veggie
patties (made with mushrooms); Wolfgang Puck’s mushroom pizzas, porcini
bouillon cubes; Velveeta marketed as a dip with mushrooms.
	Burgerville, which has seasonal menus, has offered a gourmet
mushroom burger with three types of mushrooms, as well as deep-fried
portobello sticks.
	Monterey Mushrooms in Watersonville, Calif., a mushroom industry
juggernaut, has researchers working on making a better-tasting mushroom.
	They’re trying to develop, by breeding for preferred
characteristics, an “amaretto” mushroom with an almond flavor. Initial
results are encouraging.
	Other mushrooms they are working on have a garlic or a seafood
taste.
	Mushrooms may be grown in the dark, but the growers don’t want them
to remain a secret to most Americans.

ROASTED MUSHROOMS WITH WINTER VEGETABLES

Makes 6 servings

12 ounces white mushrooms (3/4 pound)
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, or more white mushrooms
5 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
2 medium onions (about 8 ounces)
12 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried
rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

	Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim white mushrooms. Remove and
discard shiitake stems. Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half lengthwise,
then into 1/2-inch slices. Cut onions in 1/2-inch wedges. Cut garlic
cloves in half.
	In a large bowl, combine oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add
mushrooms, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic; toss to coat.
	In two shallow roasting pans, arrange vegetables in a single layer.
Roast, stirring once, until tender, about 25 minutes. (Mixture can be
roasted in advance and reheated in a hot oven.)

Per Serving:
	Calories: 224 (7% from protein, 57% from carbohydrate, 36% from fat)
	Protein: 3.9 grams
	Cholesterol: 0
	Fiber: 5.2 grams
	Exchanges: 1 1/2 vegeatble, 1 1/2 starch, 2 fat
	Total fat: 9.5 grams
	Sodium: 396 mg
	Saturated fat: 1.3 grams
	Carbohydrate: 33.4 grams

MUSHROOMS FILLED WITH FETA CHEESE AND PINE NUTS

Makes about 40 appetizers

1 pound small fresh white mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (see note)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces crumbled feta (plain or flavored) or goat cheese (about 3/4
cup)

	Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
	Remove mushroom stems. Chop stems (makes about 1 cup); reserve. In a
medium bowl, place caps; toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. On a shallow
baking pan, arrange mushroom caps, cavity side down, bake until tender,
about 10 minutes.
	On a small skillet over medium heat, heat remaining 2 tablespoons
oil. Add onion, garlic and reserved mushroom stems; cook and stir until
stems are tender and liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir in pine
nuts, oregano and pepper. Transfer to a bowl; stir in feta until
mixtures is well-blended.
	Turn mushrooms over; stuff with cheese mixture. Bake until heated
through, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.
	NOTE: to toast pine nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat
until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn.

Per Serving:
	Calories: 112 per 4 mushrooms (15% from protein, 11% from
carbohydrate, 74% from fat)
	Protein: 4.5 grams
	Cholesterol: 10 mg
	Fiber: 0.7 gram
	Total fat: 10 grams
	Sodium: 129 mg
	Saturated fat: 2.8 grams
	Carboyhydrate: 3.2 grams
	Fiber: 0.7 gram
	Exchanges: 1/2 vegetable, 2 fat

Hoisin-Flavored Mushroom, Chicken and Noodle Stir-Fry

Makes 4 servings, 8 cups

8 ounces cellophane noodles or spaghetti, uncooked
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground dried
ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 ounces shiiake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced or white
mushrooms (about 3/4 cup)
10 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut in 1/4-inch strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup diagonally sliced green onions
Enoki mushrooms, sliced radishes and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
(optional: see note)

	If using cellophane noodles, cover with cold water for 20 minutes,
drain. Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan 3/4 full with water, add salt
and bring to a boil. Add cellophane noodles; cook 1 minutes. Drain and
rinse under warm water; set aside in a serving bowl covered, to keep
warm.
	(Cook spaghetti in salted water according to package instructions.)
	In a large saucepan over high heat, heat oil until hot. Add garlic,
ginger and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden
and fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring
occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir
in chicken, soy sauce and hoisin sauce; simmer until chicken is no
longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Toss with reserved pasta along with green
onions.
	Serve immediately, garnished with enoki mushrooms, sliced radishes
and toasted sesame seeds, if desired.
	NOTE: To toast sesame seeds, place in a dry skillet over medium
heat. Toast until seeds turn light brown, shaking the pan to keep the
seeds from scorshing.

Per Serving:
	Calories: 477 (24% from protein, 57% from carbohydrate, 19% from
fat)
	Protein: 27.7 grams
	Cholesterol: 69 mg
	Fiber: 1.4 grams
	Total fat: 10.1 grams
	Sodium: 587 mg
	Saturated fat: 1.9 grams
	Carbohydrate: 67.3 grams
	Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 4 starch, 2 1/2 meat, 1 1/2 fat

Sidebar: The Dirt on ‘Shrooms

2 Popularity of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup (behind tomato)
2 Popularity of mushroom as a pizza topping (behind pepperoni)
1/8 Width in inches that Domino’s pizza chain orders its mushrooms
sliced
16 millions of spores contained in each mushroom
90 percent of a mushroom that is water
2,500 Varieties of mushrooms grown worldwide
80 percentage of mushrooms consumed by 20 percent of the population
45 Percent of cultivated mushrooms in the United States grown in
Pennsylvania
540,000 Pounds of mushrooms produced by Monterey Mushrooms in California
each week.

Sources: Mushroom Council, Jack Czarnedcki, Robert Darm, Harry deTurk,
Monterey Mushrooms, Philips Mushroom Farm

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com






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