More Mushroom Facts
mushrooms are agaricus mushrooms grown on farms. Exotics are any farmed
mushroom other than agaricus (think shiitake, maitake, oyster). Wild
mushrooms are harvested wherever they grow naturally--in forests, near
riverbanks, even in your backyard.
Will Heap/Getty Images
Brown agaricus mushrooms include cremini and portobellos, though they're really the same thing: Portobellos are just mature cremini.
edible mushrooms have poisonous look-alikes in the wild. For example, the
dangerous "yellow stainer" closely resembles the popular white
is the term often used to refer to poisonous fungi.
- In the
wild, mushroom spores are spread by wind. On mushroom farms, spores are
collected in a laboratory and then used to inoculate grains to create
"spawn," a mushroom farmer's equivalent of seeds.
mature mushroom will drop as many as 16 billion spores.
spores are so tiny that 2,500 arranged end-to-end would measure only an
inch in length.
farmers plant the spawn in trays of pasteurized compost, a growing medium
consisting of straw, corncobs, nitrogen supplements, and other organic
process of cultivating mushrooms--from preparing the compost in which they
grow to shipping the crop to markets--takes about four months.
small town of Kennett Square,
calls itself the Mushroom Capital of the World--producing more than 51
percent of the nation's supply.
is National Mushroom Month.
serving of button mushrooms (about 5) has only 20 calories and no fat.
Mushrooms provide such key nutrients as B vitamins, copper, selenium, and
experts say the taste of mushrooms belongs to a "fifth
flavor"--beyond sweet, sour, salty, and bitter--known as umami, from
the Japanese word meaning "delicious."
This article was adapted from "The Book of Incredible Information," published by West Side Publishing, a division of Publications International, Ltd.