White mushrooms are the most popular mushroom in Canada and come in three different growth sizes: button, medium, and jumbo. Their woodsy flavour gets stronger with cooking and they are great as an ingredient in a dish or served as a side, cooked or raw.
Crimini, Portebellini and Portobello mushrooms are all the same variety of brown mushroom, just at different growth stages.
- Crimini: are young brown mushrooms where the caps are (2 inches) 5 cm in diameter. They have an earthy flavour that is stronger than white mushrooms.
- Portebellini: older mushrooms with larger caps that are (3 inches) 7 cm in diameter and have less moisture content, their flavour is more developed.
- Portobello: the largest of all domestic mushrooms they have a tan cap and dark gills. They’re a more mature mushroom and the exposed gills are what give them their robust earthy flavour. Because they are grown longer, they have a lower moisture content which creates a meatier texture.
- Shiitake mushrooms: have large fleshy caps with tan open gills. Fresh shiitake mushrooms have a soft spongy flesh and woodsy, meaty flavour but can also be purchased dried. The drying process intensifies their flavour and significantly extends shelf life. They are popular in Asian cuisines and are most commonly used in stir fries and pasta meals.
- Oyster mushrooms: have a more mild, delicate flavour and a smooth, velvety texture. They can be eaten raw or cooked and go well with chicken, seafood and pork.
- Enoki mushrooms: these mushrooms come in long slender stemmed bunches with small firm caps and have a delicate flavour that is complimented by a slight crunch which is excellent in salads, sandwiches, and soups.
- King oyster mushrooms: have a thick meaty stem that remains firm when cooked. They are woody and sweet and brown and crisp nicely when stir fried, sauteed, or grilled.
There are many varieties of wild mushrooms growing across Canada such as Morels, Porcini, Chanterelles and Matsutake (pine) mushrooms. However, unless you are confident in your mushroom knowledge, it is recommended that you never eat mushrooms you come across in the wild as many varieties are poisonous or inedible. Do not attempt to identify a mushroom from comparing photographs alone. Check out all the characteristics and if in any doubt, do not eat.
How to Buy:
Good quality fresh mushrooms are free from blemishes and discoloration. Buy from the bulk bins so you can inspect them and pack in the provided paper bags to extend shelf-life. The leftover particles of peat moss are sterile and harmless and can be rinsed easily so don’t let them deter you.
How to Store:
Most fresh mushrooms will last in the refrigerator for up to 8 days if stored in an open paper bag in the main compartment of the refrigerator. Although many stores sell mushrooms in cellophane wrapped trays, pre-sliced or rinsed, unless you are planning to use them immediately this can cause them to get soft and moldy fast. Paper bags absorb excess moisture buildup and allow the mushrooms to breathe, extending their shelf-life.
Fresh mushrooms are 90% water and do not freeze well.
How to Prepare:
Fresh mushrooms can simply be rinsed or wiped with a damp cloth to remove the peat moss. Then serve whole or cut into bite-sized pieces. They are great served with dips or in salads.
Once cleaned and prepared mushrooms can be prepared in a number of ways. They are excellent simply sauteed until tender in butter or canola oil and served as as a side dish. They can also be added to stir fries and soups. Mushrooms can quickly be cooked in the microwave. Simply cover and cook on high for two to three minutes, stirring once. No need to add butter or oil. To grill or broil mushrooms. Brush with canola oil to keep them moist, and season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil for 4-6 minutes on each side. Brush with more oil if necessary. Roast mushrooms at 450°F (230°C) in a shallow baking pan, toss with one tablespoon (15 mL) of canola oil until they are brown. Stir occasionally.
Mushrooms can also be chopped finely and added to ground meat to “blend and extend” the meat.
Read more: 8 Mouth-Watering Mushroom Recipes
Read more: https://www.mushrooms.ca/nutritional-info/
How They Are Grown:
Ontario and British Columbia are the largest mushroom producing provinces in Canada, together accounting for over 90% of all mushrooms grown commercially.
Mushrooms are grown in a six week cycle inside large, climate controlled buildings on multi-tiered shelving units so they are available all year around. They take 3 weeks to grow and 3 weeks to harvest in three different batches called ‘flushes’. Mushrooms are grown in partially composted, pasteurized straw bases with a layer of peat moss on top. This growth medium is considered sterile and so mushrooms are not washed before packing. Before eating, give them a quick rinse or brush off any brown flecks, but don’t peel them!
Mushrooms are propagated by spreading ‘spawn’ on top of the peat moss layers instead of seed. Then the environment is stressed by changing the air temperature, C02 levels and moisture levels in the climate controlled buildings. This encourages the micelia in the spawn to grow and produce mushrooms. The mushrooms are hand picked, their stems are trimmed and they are packed for the grocery store. These packages are cooled to 1 degree C within an hour of picking and are ready for shipping.
Fun Fact: Mushrooms grow fast! They can double in size within 24 hours (4% per hour).
Canadian Crop is Available: Year-Round
Grown in: Mostly in British Columbia and Ontario.