Missing the Mushroom Health Summit? Be sure to read my Day 1 Recap. Disclosure: I’m working with the Mushroom Council to share information from the summit.
Before we kicked off day 2, I visited the mushROOM to learn more about the growing process for specialty mushroom. I’ve heard of oyster and shiitake mushrooms, but this was the first time I saw pom pom, maitake, and King oyster. Take a look. They are so interesting!
Video Growing Specialty Mushrooms
Mouth Watering Already?
Interesting Tidbits from Morning Sessions
There was so much information, I can’t summarize the entire day in one blog. I picked my favorite a-ha’s I thought you would like.
- Mushrooms are the leading source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant being studied for its anticancer and immunity properties.
- Mushrooms are high in “Ergo” (ergothioneine), a naturally occurring antioxidant found in red blood cells that may help protect the body’s cells. A lack of “ergo” may be related to development of chronic inflammatory disease. See: Grigat et al., 2007, Biochem Pharm. 74:309-316 (2007)
- Digestive health is all the rage when it comes to “hot nutrition topics”. We are just now beginning to understand the “microbiotic community” living deep in our gut. Mushrooms are high in betaglucan, which is considered a prebiotic “food” we can’t digest, but the microbes in our gut much on in order to keep a healthy GI environment. This is crucial for our helathy immune system.
Lunch Demo – The Trend to Blend
Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD, Senior Director of Programs and Culinary Nutrition for Culinary Institute of America did an awesome job showing us how mushrooms can improve nutrition and consumer appeal of popular meat-based dishes.
Take a look at this story in pictures!
We were given 3 samples and asked to taste and rate each. Then the identity of each sample was revealed. We gave characteristics of sensory and flavors, both positive and negative. I liked all three.
The first one I could tell was 100% meat based on color and lack of mushroom taste. Between the second and third sample, it’s clear to see I liked the second sample best. This was a 50/50 mixture of mushrooms to meat with seasoning that amounted to about 320 mg sodium per 2 oz portion.
The third sample had about 100 mg less sodium, but I noticed a taste difference. I also felt the second sample was the most moist of the three. I think my favorite would work as long as the portion of meat/mushroom stuck to 1-3 oz per serving and the rest of the dish, more veggies etc. was minimal in sodium.
Another potential bonus for blendability is cost savings. Who doesn’t want to stretch their dollar? Basically 50/50 is less expensive than 100% meat and the more mushroom % in your blendability ratio, the greater the savings. That’s food for thought.
Be on the lookout for more studies and press about “blendability” of mushrooms in the near future. One of the study journal submissions was recently accepted.
Lunch Demo – Release the Umami, a Chemistry & Culinary Experiment
We also learned that it’s a culinary strategy to maximize the umami (savory) flavor from mushrooms. This is one of the key factors that allow mushrooms to be blendable with traditional meat based dishes. Umami provides a satisfying sense of deep, complete flavor, balancing savory flavors and full-bodied taste with distinctive qualities of aroma and mouthfeel.
I haven’t discussed the “Maillard reaction” since my dietetic internship (and I won’t tell you how long that has been!) If you have heard of “caramelization”, “browning”, or “searing” then you know what I’m talking about. Caramelizing the mushroom releases more umami flavor than sautéing.
What’s the difference between browning/caramelizing and sautéing? You need high temperature DRY heat for caramelization. You need to use a little oil and give mushrooms space. Use too many in the pan and they will steam (wet cooking method). If you give them room, they will cook to brown color with crispy bits and deliver more of a nutty flavor.
Find more research on umami and sodium.
Mushrooms, Known as “White” are Really “Green”!
I thoroughly enjoyed the talk from the mushroom farmer at Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc.
He drove home the sustainability opportunities of mushrooms. Boiling it down in simple terms, growing mushrooms uses agricultural waste (yay recycling), grows in a matter of days on small plots of soil (yay), and uses minimal water and chemical additives.
When you eat mushrooms, you are eating a sustainable, nutritious food. Mushrooms are good for you and good for the planet. With the blendability concept, you don’t have to become a vegetarian to eat less meat, but you can easily add mushrooms to your traditional meat based recipes without sacrificing taste and flavor.
I had a fabulous time at the conference and I hope you enjoyed my summaries. To catch up on the chatter, you can visit the Twitter #MushroomHealth stream.