Cooking Basic ingredients of Italian cuisine White mushrooms

White mushrooms

How to choose, clean, preserve and cook the most common cultivated mushroom

white mushrooms or baby portobello or portobello - they are halved and ready to be cooked
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White mushrooms

Raw cultivated mushrooms

Nutritive value in 100 g edible part

Edible part % 95%
Water g 90.4
Protein g 3.7
Total fat g 0.2
Carbohydrates g 0.8
Total dietary fiber g 2.3
Food energy kcal 20
kJ 82
Sodium mg 5
Potassium mg 320
Iron mg 0.8
Calcium mg 6
Phosphorus mg 100
Thiamin mg 0.09
Riboflavin mg 0.13
Niacin mg 4.0
Vitamin A µg 0
Vitamin C mg 3

Description. The pileus or cap, up to 12 cm (about 5in) in diameter, is at first ovoid then hemispherical and at last convex in shape. It's white, fleshy and firm. It may have broad, flat scales.
The stipe is firm, stubby and cylindrical.
At first the gills are pink and free but their color turns into a dark brown quickly.
The stipe bears a thick and narrow ring. It is flocculent, membranous and comes off easily.
Remember these mushrooms like all the other members of fungi grow from microscopic spore, not seeds.

Other names. When it has its cap closed and pale white flesh it is called white or button mushroom.
When its flesh darkens (cap may also open a bit) it is called crimini mushroom, baby portobello, baby bella, mini bella, Italian mushroom, portabellini, Roman brown mushrooms, Italian brown.
At the stage of maturation it is called portobello.
In France it is known as Champignon de (of) Paris.

Cultivation. The mushroom cultivation is very ancient and was made in caves until somebody began thinking of business goals in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries in France, near Paris. Manure was discovered to be an excellent substrate to have a lot of tasty white mushrooms. Interesting experimentations have been making since those years.
Nowadays, thanks to their cultivation, white mushrooms are available throughout the year.
In Italy their cultivation began in the 30s. In these last years they are cultivated in cells where temperature and humidity are well monitored. The substrate is manure that is properly treated and then seeded with the mushroom mycelium. Once germinated the mycelium, it is covered with peat and the fist fruiting bodies appear after 10 to 15 days.

How to buy white mushrooms. Don't buy white mushrooms with spots or hollows in their cap. They are the sign of bacterial attack.
Be careful with their stipes. If they are covered with soil too much you'd pay the soil at the same price of the mushrooms you're buying ...
Be careful with the gill color as we have just described above.
In other words your fungus must be compact, possibly small, hard and white and first of all closed.

How to preserve white mushrooms. Generally common mushrooms are available in small or medium containers at supermarket. Chill them in their package until cooking but remember to preserve them for few days (maximum 5 days). Mushrooms are very delicate.
If you take home mushrooms sold by measure you must keep them well dry to avoid a rapid deterioration. In this case place them in a tray or large plate, separeted one from the others. Then put the tray in a paper bag and chill.

How to clean white mushrooms. You eat everything of common mushrooms. Remove only the cultivation substrate on their stipes, wipe with a damp cloth and halve them. Thy are ready for cooking. Look at the photo for more details.

How to eat white mushrooms. The white mushrooms can be found all year round but they aren't rich in flavor. In Italy we have the habit of mixing them with other mushrooms for tastier recipes.
You can find them fresh, frozen, dried or preserved in oil.
You can eat white mushrooms raw as side dish once dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper (but remember mushrooms are indigestible) or stewed or combined with other ingredients in a lot of main courses (rice or pasta or meat or fish recipes). If preserved in oil they are an excellent ingredient for pizza recipe or appetizer ideas.

Nutritional properties. These mushrooms can contain high amounts of vitamin D especially when UV irradiated. They also contain sodium, phosphorus, potassium, conjugated linoleic acid and antioxidants.

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