Since ancient times, mushrooms have been regarded as the ‘Food of the Gods’. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt believed they had magical powers, while the Chinese used them for their health giving properties. Mushrooms have always had an association with the supernatural, particularly in Ireland where folk tales of Fairy rings and circles of mushrooms arose from their appearance in woods and fields overnight.

The word mushroom is generally applied to edible fungi but of the many thousands of species in the world, only a small proportion of them are in fact edible. Cultivated mushrooms are available throughout the year. Agaricus Bisporus is the most commonly used cultivated mushroom in Ireland. There are three main types: buttons, cups or flats. Mushrooms are a good source of riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and pantothenic acid.
Nutritional Value

Nutrient Raw Cooked (fried)
Energy kJ 55 645
Kcal 13 157
Protein g 1.8 2.4
Carbohydrate g 0.4 0.3
Fat g 0.5 16.2

A good source of…

Nutrient Raw Cooked (fried)
Vitamin E One Tick One TickOne Tick
Riboflavin One Tick One Tick
Niacin One Tick
Folic Acid One Tick
Pantothenic acid One TickOne Tick One Tick

For more information on nutrition and the details given above, check out our nutrition page.

Preparing and Using

It’s easy to see whether or not button mushrooms are fresh – their caps will be clean and white, without bruises or blemishes. The older they are, the darker and more discoloured the caps become, while the gills underneath turn from pink to brown.Fresh oyster mushrooms are erect with clear gills and smooth caps. All mushrooms should be used as soon as possible after purchase.In the meantime, store mushrooms in the fridge or in a cool place. Cultivated mushrooms do not need peeling; the whole of the mushroom, including the stalk, is edible

Mushrooms should never be washed before being stored or used. This is partly because you don’t want to increase their water content and also because they should be fried as dry as possible. Cultivated mushrooms are grown compost, which is free from pathogens. Wipe mushrooms clean using a clean damp cloth or kitchen paper.You may need to trim the base of the stalks.

Mushrooms are largely composed of water and shrink noticeably during cooking. They also take up a lot of fat as they cook so it is best to use butter or a good olive oil for frying. Fry mushrooms briskly over a moderately high heat so that as they shrink the water evaporates and they don’t stew in their own juices. For the same reason don’t fry too many together at the same time.

Oyster mushrooms rarely need trimming but if they are large tear rather than cut them into pieces. In very large specimens the stems can be tough and should be discarded. They take less time to cook than button mushrooms. Overcooking them will result in a loss of flavour and the texture will become rubbery. Shiitake mushrooms need to be cooked through, although this only takes 3–5minutes. Add them to stir-fries for a delicious flavour and texture. Alternatively fry them in oil until tender. Sprinkle with sesame oil and serve with a little soy sauce.

Flat mushrooms can be stuffed and grilled or served at breakfast with a fried egg on top.Button or open cap mushrooms can be stuffed with garlic butter, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fried as a vegetable side dish or as a starter.

Raw button mushrooms can be used in salads with a dressing such as soured cream or blue cheese dressing. They can be blanched first to preserve their white colour.Mushrooms can also be roasted or baked and added to stews, stuffing, omelettes, pizzas, frittatas, quiches, vegetarian pasta dishes and sauces. Button mushrooms can be skewered with other vegetables to make a vegetarian kebab. All types of mushrooms can be used to make soup.

Mushrooms can be used to garnish dishes and can be used whole, sliced, quartered or chopped. They can also be used as crudités for dips and dressings. They can be added to a sauce and served in tartlets, as toppings on canapés or in vol au vents, for example. Used whole, and with the stalk removed, button mushrooms can be stuffed with savoury mixtures and served as appetisers.

Flavours and ingredients that go well with mushrooms include garlic butter, blue cheese,chilli, lemon, parsley, olive oil, pâté, coriander,gnocchi, seafood, pasta, fried rice, sausages,bacon, eggs, tomatoes and filo pastry.


For some Mushroom recipes, visit the Bord Bia website here

Baked Stuffed Flat Mushrooms Topped with a Poached Egg and Cheese

A Winning Recipe – submitted by: Regina Murphy, Douglas Road, Cork

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Mushroom Omelette

Omelettes are really quick to make. Don’t be tempted to over-beat the eggs, as it will spoil the texture.

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