Mushrooms are a truly fascinating vegetable. They have a variety of uses and ways in which you can cook them, and they even have other uses outside of cooking. From bulking out salads, complementing a fry up or even being the key ingredient in our Cream of Mushroom Soup, read on for some more information on our favourite Fungi!
Not a vegetable or a fruit, mushrooms are a fungus and are part of a wider species that contains deadly fungi, as well as delightfully tasty ones too. They also have a wide range of health benefits and are low in calories yet remain very filling.
1. Portobello, Button, and White (Cremini) Mushrooms are all the same
These three common varieties of mushrooms are all the same species Agaricus bisporus, just at different levels of maturity. It’s a common mistake to think these mushrooms are all completely different varieties, which is untrue. As mushrooms mature, they slowly lose their water content, making the oldest version, Portobello, the most flavourful.
2. Portobello Mushrooms are Filled with Useful Nutrients – More Than a Banana
Portobello Mushrooms’ best health benefits come from their high micronutrient content. They contain more potassium than a banana, and two Portobello mushrooms will give you half your daily niacin needs. Your body needs potassium to aid nerve functions, and niacin to allow cells to function as expected. Potassium is also important for heart health and eating four mushrooms will give you a quarter of your daily potassium needs.
3. Some Mushrooms Can Create Their Own Wind
For years people thought mushrooms moved around like other types of seed, through excretion by mammals, wind blowing the seeds around or through the available water supply.
Recent studies from Harvard University show that some mushrooms can actually generate their own wind, pushing themselves up to four inches up and sideways. This means that they can slowly grow and develop a colony of mushrooms across a forest floor.
4. There is an Edible Mushroom that Grows in the Wild that Tastes Nearly Identical to Fried Chicken
This fried chicken-tasting mushroom is called Laetiporus sulphureus and is more commonly known as ‘Chicken of the Woods.’ It can be found across Europe and North America, mainly on oak trees but can also be found on yew, cherry and sweet chestnut trees. Laetiporus is bright in colour and known to be succulent and soft, with a fleshy middle, much like chicken.
As it is a sulphur-coloured mushroom, it does have a strong fungus smell, but is edible. Due to its similarity with other poisonous fungi though, it’s best not to pick unless you’re an expert.
If you have managed to safely get some chicken of the wood, however, it’s a great vegan alternative to chicken and complements a soup well.
There’s Bioluminescent Mushrooms
Bioluminescence is when a plant or fungi naturally produces their own light. This requires a compound called oxyluciferin that, when paired with an enzyme and oxygen, releases light. This is also what fireflies use to light themselves at night. Some mushrooms run on circadian rhythms; others glow all the time.
This luminescence is not a new thing either. Aristotle first identified bioluminescence all the way back in 382 B.C. but called it foxfire. You can find glowing mushrooms all across the world, although mountainous regions tend to have more!
Mushrooms Contain Vitamin D
Mushrooms are the only produce source of vitamin D, which is what makes them unique. As mushrooms are closer to humans than plants according to their DNA, mushrooms can absorb vitamin D when exposed to UV light sources like the sun. Some sun grown mushrooms have more than enough vitamin D for our daily recommended allowance.
More than 2,000 new fungi are discovered each year
Every year, over 2,000 new species of fungi are discovered. These come from a variety of places, including a human fingernail one year.
Fungi doesn’t always mean mushrooms, however, the fungi family contains some weird and wonderful things, for example, 216 species of fungi are hallucinogenic and over 350 species of fungi are edible, including the type used in Marmite!
Mushrooms are a versatile vegetable that have great benefits. Try and get your daily intake with Campbell’s tasty Cream of Mushroom Soup.