Taste Of The Rainy Season Mushrooms

Among the elite flavors of the culinary world, mushrooms are perhaps the most mysterious of all vegetables.

Around a million varieties of mushrooms that grow on or below the ground are known in the world. But experts emphasize that most of them are of the inedible variety. According to Turkish mushroom expert (mycologist) Jilber Barutçiyan, 150,000 varieties grow in the world’s tropical regions and around 200 edible varieties in Turkey alone, some 30-35 of them suitable for serving. The number of mushroom species served in restaurants on the other hand does not exceed four or five.

Compared with other vegetables, mushrooms are very primitive in structure. Since they do not perform photosynthesis, they attach themselves to the roots of trees, giving minerals to the tree while obtaining the sugar they need from its roots. Mushrooms, which are especially rich in phosphorus, provide that mineral to trees in return for the sugar they take. Structurally different from other vegetables, mushrooms enhance the flavor of food due to the glutamic acid they contain.

All this naturally requires that mushrooms be consumed fresh in order to preserve their properties, for from the minute a mushroom is gathered it rapidly begins to go stale, losing more or less half its nutritional value in just four days. This process can be slowed if mushrooms are stored tightly packaged in the refrigerator.
If you want to preserve the taste of mushrooms, absolutely do not wash or peel them. Just wipe them clean with a damp cloth and dry them. Some people might think this is not hygienic, but connoisseurs know that it is no obstacle. If the mushroom stem is tough or fibrous, you can use it to flavor meat or vegetable stocks. Boletus mushrooms meanwhile, if they are very moist and wet, can either be peeled or washed very quickly and then dried. But mushrooms definitely do not take to being soaked in water. Mushrooms with a thick skin can be brushed clean.

Mushroom expert Jilber Barutçiyan mentions a number of natural edible mushrooms species in Istanbul’s Belgrade Forest alone. Finding mushrooms in nature is not difficult, but enlisting the help of an expert is imperative.