Did you know that Pennsylvania is noted for its mushrooms? Kennett Square is the “Mushroom Capital of the World” where they produce over a million pounds of mushrooms in one day. If you grew up in the northeast part of the state, you might also have some memories of picking wild mushrooms in September. Caution, do not pick wild mushrooms without the help of an expert.
Mushrooms are a healthy food. They have virtually no fat or sodium, and are low in calories. Mushrooms have both riboflavin and niacin. Riboflavin helps release energy from food. Niacin is vital for growth and development and helps make and conserve energy. Also, mushrooms are a good source of selenium, an antioxidant which may lower the risk of prostate cancer.
There are many varieties of mushrooms. Button, cremini and cup mushrooms all are about 1-2 inches wide. Creminis have a stronger flavor than button or cup mushrooms. Portabella are larger creminis and taste great grilled or stuffed.
Fresh mushrooms need cool air flowing around them, so they should be stored on a tray unwashed, in a single layer. If you buy them bulk, keep them in a paper bag or in their original packaging for up to 1 week.
Just before using mushrooms, wipe them thoroughly with a damp towel or rinse lightly and pat dry.
September is both mushroom and whole grain month. What a great time to make Mushroom Barley Soup.
Mushroom Barley Soup
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 celery stalks sliced thin
2 peeled and thinly sliced carrots
2 cups sliced mushrooms
½ cup quick cooking whole grain barley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
Heat olive oil in large soup pot. Sauté onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms until golden. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Lower to simmer. Cook until the barley is tender (20 minutes). Enjoy!