In addition to offering plenty of nutritional benefits, mushrooms deliver on umami like almost no other food can. Umami means “pleasant savory taste” in Japanese, and it’s one of the five basic tastes. Foods with umami are described as brothy or “meaty” (even when there’s no meat in the dish). But despite all this goodness, some people just “don’t like mushrooms.” But, sometimes a person’s mind can be changed if they have a new-to-them type of mushroom – or a familiar one cooked in a different way.
A slimy or soggy mushroom on pizza is not a solid representation of the fungi kingdom’s culinary potential! If you’re a mushroom lover who’s struggling to get your family and friends on board, read on. (Or if you’re someone who’s myco-curious and wants to eat more mushrooms, these tips could benefit you as well.)
We’re offering cooking and preparation tips to help the next generation of fungi fans!
7 tips for those who are new to eating mushrooms
Try different varieties.
Plenty of folks have only had the chance to taste white button mushrooms or maybe a portobello burger. While those mushrooms can be tasty, they’re also not the most flavorful. So, start branching out. Mushrooms are such a fun ingredient to experiment with in the kitchen. Try adding a new-to-you variety – like Lion’s Mane, Shiitake or Porcini – to your shopping list every week or two. You might find that you can change minds with the right ‘shrooms! A good place to start is your local farmers market, but you can also find mushrooms like Maitake, Beech and Oyster at many supermarkets.
Crowdsource new recipes.
Sometimes, it’s not the mushroom – it’s the preparation. Ask for input in choosing different recipes or spend some time browsing cookbooks and recipe blogs. If someone in your family thought that whole Shiitake mushrooms cooked in soup were too intense or chewy, look for a dish that uses only the broth or smaller pieces of mushroom. Start with our free community recipes to get some ideas.
Switch from savory to sweet.
If you’re dealing with a ‘shroom skeptic, telling them to eat mushrooms in a sweet dish might lead to some raised eyebrows. But we’re not suggesting you serve chocolate-dipped Chanterelles. Instead, reach for mushroom extracts or functional foods, like the ones we offer in our shop. These products deliver mushrooms in an entirely new way! (And they’re great for mushroom lovers, too.)
Make mushrooms a minor ingredient.
You can add the flavor and nutrition of mushrooms to any dish without the texture. Try mincing mushrooms or pulsing them in a food processor before sauteing with aromatic vegetables like onions and peppers. If you’re making a soup or stew, pulverize dried mushrooms in a clean coffee grinder then add to the dish along with your liquid. Mushrooms add so much flavor, even when they’re not the “star” ingredient.
Keep it simple.
One of the best ways to introduce someone to mushrooms is by simply sauteing them. Start with a hot pan, add a little oil (or not), then add your mushrooms, leaving plenty of room for the steam to escape so flavor can develop. Mushrooms need very little to enhance their flavor or encourage them to brown – give them some heat, salt and pepper, and that’s it. If you want to elevate them, add garlic or another allium, deglaze the pan with wine or balsamic vinegar and finish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs. This simple approach is a good way to experience new mushrooms, by highlighting their earthy deliciousness. This article outlines some of the most common mistakes to avoid when cooking mushrooms!
Soak up the flavor.
Mushrooms are porous and filled with water, so they’ll soak up any marinade or sauce. Less is more, since mushrooms are like a sponge before they’re cooked. Using a favorite and familiar sauce, glaze or marinade might make someone who’s on the fence be more willing to try them.
Make sure they’re fresh.
Mushrooms shouldn’t smell funky or be slimy before you cook them. If yours are, relegate them to the compost. Make sure to store mushrooms in a paper or cloth bag. Plastic doesn’t allow mushrooms to breathe, and excess moisture will cause them to spoil faster.
10 simple meal ideas for those who are new to mushrooms
If you’re already comfortable in the kitchen but need a little confidence boost with mushrooms, start here.
- Add minced, sauteed mushrooms to pasta sauce.
- Use mushroom broth (homemade or store-bought) to make risotto.
- Stir a spoonful of ground dried mushrooms into soups and stews.
- Blend a dropper of liquid mushroom extracts into smoothies or protein shakes.
- Toss shredded, cooked mushrooms with barbecue or buffalo sauce.
- Finely slice mushrooms before adding to stir-fries or curries.
- Braise mushrooms with other hearty vegetables to intensify their flavor.
- Blend sauteed mushrooms, aromatics and herbs until smooth, then spread on toast for a savory breakfast or snack.
- Sip on mushroom coffee or cocoa. (Check out our shop if you haven’t tried these yet!)
- Add powdered mushroom extracts to no-bake energy balls.
Warm Endive and Oyster Mushroom Salad (pictured) recipe by Annalise Bischoff, Massachusetts. Photo by Evan Sung.