For Mushroom Haters
I sell mushrooms. I rather enjoy doing so. Growing them is challenging, and fun, and not nearly as complex as the industrial ag folks make it seem. Eating them is perhaps my least favorite part of the whole thing!
I disliked mushrooms my whole life. To me, it was akin to eating a slug – a slimy rubbery thing. Not at all an enjoyable experience. I didn't really mind the flavor of mushrooms in mushroom soup, but could not stand the smell of fresh mushrooms.
I eat mushrooms now, and I've learned to not mind the fungus smell of fresh mushrooms. I eat them because they helped me heal from longstanding auto-immune illness. But I cannot yet say that I enjoy them (except for a few that I actually like), and I still cannot stand a slick rubbery texture. We have a peaceful co-existence though, and there are even a few that I may come to like eventually. I still just endure some of them. You might say I have learned to tolerate many mushrooms through creative concealment.
Why bother if I do not like them? Because nothing else does quite what mushrooms do for the human body. They possess so many good benefits for health, that I simply cannot ignore them as a source of nutrition and as an element to help to balance my body.
If you are a mushroom hater, and you feel you need to eat them anyway, try these tips:
1. Try different types of mushrooms. Many are radically different than the “white imposter”, in both flavor and texture. Chanterelles have a slight fruity flavor. Almond Agaricus species have a lovely almond smell and flavor. Porcini tastes sort of rich and buttery. Paddy Straw have a rich meaty savory flavor. And Fairy Rings (Scotch Bonnets) have a sweet flavor.
Some are less fungusy flavored than others. Many have hints of other flavors in them that make the flavor more tolerable - more than just the ones listed above. Try different mushrooms for texture too – not all are slimy and rubbery.
2. Try mushrooms dried and seasoned, finely chopped in soups, casseroles, and chunky sauces where you are less likely to notice them in the jumble. Puree them for soups or sauces.
If you cook the mushrooms in a richly seasoned liquid, or seasoned butter, and then dilute for sauces or soups, the mushrooms will absorb the seasoning and take on those flavors.
3. Try them in more exotic dishes, or pickled. Again, try different kinds, because they vary in texture and flavor. The stronger the seasoning in the dish, the easier it is to hide them.
You don't have to end up loving mushrooms – who knows, you may. But even if you don't, that is ok. If you can learn to tolerate them in enough foods to consume them two or three times a week, it may help you either maintain, or restore, better health.
It is a hard world we live in, and we need every help we can get.
Not too bad for a nasty little fungus!
It seems there is a mushroom hater in just about every family. One major reason is because they have only ever tasted mushrooms that taste fungusy. Another major reason is the texture of most common mushrooms.
Both of these issues become less of an issue when a variety of mushrooms are served, but the majority of mushrooms will still have that underlying stale and funky flavor that mushroom haters despise, and most will still go to the texture and appeal of a slug in the garden once they are cooked. Rubbery slime that tastes faintly of mildew is just not appealing to many people.
For those who love mushrooms, the flavor that comes across is the REST of the flavor. The savory, meaty, sweet, or buttery flavor that the mushroom imparts. And mushroom haters generally LIKE that part, but just don't care for the rest that accompanies it.
So... how do you serve up mushrooms, so that those who love them can have them, and those who don't like them can learn to enjoy foods that contain them, and take part in the health benefits that mushrooms give?
- The biggest thing is to not serve them as an entree, garnish, or side dish that features mushrooms. To a mushroom hater, that just means that they have to pick them out. If you want them to eat them, mix them into dishes that have multiple ingredients. They are a natural for the following foods:
- Soup or Stew of any kind
- Pizza (mix them in the sauce, don't put them on top)
- Meatloaf and Salisbury steak
- Sauces - cheese, alfredo, white sauce, barbeque, any sauce with chunks of veggies, any sauce with tomato, etc, and even sauces made from canned soups.
- Hot salads - anything that has bacon in it
- Croquettes (any mixed and shaped meat patty actually)
- Stir fry or chow mein, other Asian mixed dishes
- Chop them up into small dices. This helps to keep the pieces small, so you don't end up chewing on a great big hunk of something repellent. It also helps the other flavors of the dish to be the main focus.
- Use dried mushrooms, and reconstitute them in broth. This gets the broth into the mushroom, and tempers the flavor. Dried mushrooms often have a stronger savory flavor and less fungusy flavor anyway.
- Pair the mushroom with something that tastes similar to the good aspect. That means white mushrooms or Criminis (and other similarly flavored mushrooms) with beef or pork, Shaggy Mane and Porcini with butter and chicken, Hedgehog with a sweet and sour sauce or barbeque or even orange chicken sauce, Straw mushrooms with soy sauce and dark meaty flavors, King Trumpet in buttery white sauce that is lightly salted, Morels fried in butter and tossed into cashew chicken, etc.
- Put the mushrooms into the dish early in the cooking process so they meld with the other flavors.
- Mushroom powder can impart some subtle flavors without the slimy textures. It can be used in soups, sauces, gravies, casseroles, salad dressings, etc.
- Use a reasonable amount. Think of them as a companion ingredient, the same way you do onions. About the same amount of diced onion, or maybe twice the amount, that you'd use in the dish if it called for onion.
Generally you won't make a mushroom lover out of a mushroom hater. But if you are considerate, and try all kinds of mushrooms, then you can usually find those that are tolerable, and dishes in which they are not disliked.
Dietary Note: If a person is genuinely allergic, do not try this.
Some people dislike mushrooms because they do not digest or metabolize them in a positive way. This doesn't mean that mushrooms will actively harm them, only that their body does not appreciate them in part because it does not know what to do with them. By pairing them with other food combinations, they may become more digestible, and additional metabolic elements may be available that aid the body in utilizing mushrooms in a way that it cannot when they are served alone, or without specific elements. We find that the combinations can vary, but that they may be more digestible when served with fruit or acids (this is why some people don't mind them in tomato sauces), when served with certain types of vegetables, when served with butter, or when served with certain types of meats. The specific combinations that work best are a very individual thing.
When a mushroom hater says, "I like that!", and they do not notice that it had mushrooms in it, then you know you got the combination right.
This Organization and Website are dedicated to the Preservation, Cultivation, and Wise Use of Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms. We do NOT assist with cultivation or preservation of recreational mushrooms.
Mushrooms may cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. Some mushrooms are more likely to do this than others. Please research possible reactions prior to use. We are not responsible for how you choose to use our information, and do not claim that mushrooms are completely safe to consume.
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