Mead­ows of mush­rooms

Vis­it­ing the Meadow Mush­rooms farm, Good ed­i­tor Carolyn Ent­ing learns there’s more to mush­rooms than be­ing a de­li­cious meat sub­sti­tute.

Good - - PRODUCE -

It’s as­ton­ish­ing to learn that Meadow Mush­rooms farm in Christchurch has been sup­ply­ing New Zealan­ders with fresh porta­bello, white but­ton and swiss brown mush­rooms since 1970.

To­day it’s still fo­cused on serv­ing up the best-qual­ity mush­rooms to the do­mes­tic mar­ket, which means its more than likely the mush­rooms that end up on your plate at your favourite café, or in your shop­ping bas­ket have been grown here.

Meadow Mush­rooms is only just keep­ing up with de­mand for its prod­uct, which is eye-open­ing when you con­sider they pick and process one mil­lion mush­rooms ev­ery two days. A re­cent Sta­tis­tics NZ study has shown that mush­rooms are al­ready New Zealan­ders’ fourth favourite veg­etable even though it’s tech­ni­cally a fungi. Plus, de­mand for mush­rooms is grow­ing with more peo­ple choos­ing plant-based di­ets.

Grown in a com­post mix, rich in se­le­nium, gives Meadow Mush­rooms ex­tra mag­i­cal prop­er­ties, though wit­ness­ing them grow is magic enough. The mush­rooms dou­ble in size ev­ery 24 hours (roughly four per cent per hour) which is why they are grown and har­vested row by row, and layer by layer. By the time the picker re­turns to the start more mush­rooms are ready to be del­i­cately plucked as they are al­ready eight per cent big­ger.

What’s in­ter­est­ing to learn is that the porta­bello mush­room is just a but­ton that has been al­lowed to fully grow and un­furl to its frilly um­brella-like shape. Porta­bel­los are gen­er­ally more flavour­some than the swiss brown baby but­tons.

“Porta­bel­los are a stronger flavour and can colour dishes like pasta but but­ton mush­rooms will not,” says CEO of Meadow Mush­rooms John Barnes.

When ex­posed to sun they in­crease in vi­ta­min D, which is why putting your mush­rooms on the win­dow ledge 30 min­utes be­fore eat­ing is ben­e­fi­cial. Cook­ing mush­rooms also in­creases its lev­els of vi­ta­min C plus doesn’t de­stroy vi­ta­min D.

Barnes rec­om­mends a hand­ful of mush­rooms a day as a good eat­ing guide, par­tic­u­larly if your en­ergy lev­els need a boost. Just a 100-gram serv­ing will pro­vide you with five out of the eight B vi­ta­mins – B7, B2, B3, B6 and B5 – as well as min­er­als se­le­nium, cop­per, potas­sium and phos­pho­rus. B group vi­ta­mins play an im­por­tant role in help­ing to process en­ergy from the food you in­gest, and also help to form red blood cells and aid in re­duc­ing tired­ness and fa­tigue.

Stor­ing mush­rooms in a pa­per bag, cloth bag or card­board pun­net will help to keep them fresh. And like any fresh pro­duce if it’s shriv­elled up or slimy for­get it. If it looks and smells good, bon ap­petit!

For de­li­cious mush­room recipes go to good.net.nz/ recipes

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