It’s Autumn in Australia and that means wild mushroom season is upon us. There’s no better time to visit your local farmers market and pick up a tray of fresh pine mushrooms, saffron milk caps or Slippery Jacks. And here’s a few reasons why you should:
1. They are at their peak. Now days it is rare not to be able to access most produce all year round, as a result, it’s hard to know when produce is in season, and hence at its best. While button and swiss mushrooms are readily available, the more exotic, wild mushrooms are ripe for picking in the Autumn months. You need to be quick though, they generally have a short season of only a few weeks.
2. They are a great meat substitute. There are 5 basic tastes; salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. Umami means ‘pleasant savoury taste’ and is present in many meats and vegetables. It’s this savoury flavour that gives mushrooms their ‘meaty’ taste and wild mushrooms in particular are packed with flavour.
3. They are a natural source of Vitamin D. In Australia, Vitamin D deficiencies are common, and increasingly so. Although mushrooms are no substitute for soaking up some of the sun’s rays, they are the only vegetable that can help you top up your Vitamin D levels; particularly important as winter approaches.
4. They contain generous amounts of B vitamins and essential minerals such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus which can be hard to find in other food sources.
5. They’re versatile. No matter what you’re cooking, mushrooms are very adaptable. Throw them in a stir-fry, whip up a risotto or simply saute them with a little butter, garlic and parsley and let their flavours shine.