Feature Friday: Discover the Umami

Everybody knows that there are four primary tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. But did you know there is actually a fifth primary taste? It’s called Umami.

Umami is a Japanese word meaning savoury or delicious. It extends the finish of savoury foods, making them linger on the palate longer.
Found in savoury products, such as meat, cheese, broth and sauces, umami is subtle, blends well with other tastes, and expands and round-out flavours.
In other words, Umami enhances the flavours of the foods it is served with making them taste better.

Most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays a very important role in making food taste delicious. Mushrooms are full of umami, which is why restaurants serve them on burgers, steaks, and in pasta and salads. Remember how that morsel of steak exploded with flavour when it was served with fresh sautéed mushrooms? Your mouth tingled as you began to enjoy the food, making you say “Mmmmm.” That’s umami!

So how can you amp up the umami flavour in your everyday meals?
– Pile umami toppings on pizza — tomatoes, pepperoni, mozzarella and fresh mushrooms.
– Add fresh Parmesan shavings to a mushroom and tomato bisque.
– Top a pork tenderloin with a warm mushroom cream sauce.

If you love food (and who doesn’t?), be sure to put Umami-rich mushrooms on your weekly shopping list, and discover the Umami for yourself!

– Brittany

Provencal Poached Salmon Dinner

Questions from You: Morel Mushrooms

Q: “I’ve been lucky enough to get some morel mushrooms! Aside from sauteing them in butter, do you have any recipes for preparing them?”

A: We currently do not have any recipes that are specific to morel mushrooms, but what is great about the recipes in the Mushrooms Canada Recipe Library is that most of them call for just “fresh mushrooms.” This means that you can use any variety of fresh mushroom you happen to have on hand; including morels!

The beauty of cooking with fresh mushrooms is that you can use whatever variety you like in a recipe. By switching up the type, your meals take on a different flavour and texture profile, making it taste new each time you prepare it.

Here are a few recipes I would suggest trying with fresh morel mushrooms:
Easy Mushroom Ravioli with Four Cheese Sauce
French Mushroom Duxelles
Provencal Poached Salmon Dinner (include your morels in a mixture of white and criminis)

Cheers!

– Brittany

How to Reconstitute Dried Mushrooms

Although we like to believe that everyone uses fresh Canadian mushrooms, that is not always the case. Dried mushrooms are becoming more popular as they keep well in the pantry, and are convenient to have on hand (just in case you run out of fresh!).

But how do you reconstitute them properly so they maintain a pleasant flavour and favourable texture?

Chef Lori Schneider, owner of a Catering company in Austin, Texas, has the perfect video showing How to Reconstitute Dried Mushrooms.

– Brittany

Feature Friday: Freezing Fresh Mushrooms

One of the most common questions I receive on a daily basis here at Mushrooms Canada is “how do I freeze fresh mushrooms?”

I say, great question! People who prefer to buy fresh mushrooms in bulk, or when they are on sale, often need a way to preserve the mushrooms, as their self life in the refrigerator is only about 5-6 days (if kept in a brown paper bag).

Freezing fresh mushrooms is a great way to keep large quantities and a way to have Canadian mushrooms readily available in your home.

Fresh mushrooms cannot be frozen without being cooked first as they are made up of over 90% water. Here are some tips, pros and cons to freezing fresh mushrooms.

Sautéing and Freezing Fresh Mushrooms
This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to freeze fresh mushrooms. To start, simply rinse the mushrooms in a colander under cool running water to remove any particles of peat moss. Do not soak the mushrooms as they will absorb water and increase the risk of getting freezer burnt. Pat them dry immediately with paper towels.
Slice or chop the fresh mushrooms, or if using pre-sliced mushrooms – you are one step ahead. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil (per 8oz of mushrooms) in a fry pan over medium high heat. Add mushroom to hot pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until mushrooms are brown and tender. If you wish to have flavoured mushrooms you may also sauté with garlic, onions, and/or spices.
Allow mushrooms to cool, then transfer to a small freezer container. Pushing the mushrooms to the bottom of the container and sticking a small piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the mushrooms will help prevent freezer burn, making sure the lid is on tight will also help to prevent freezer burn. Be sure to label the containers with the date. They can be kept for approximately 2-3 months.

Uses
When ready to use your frozen mushrooms simply pop them out of the container and drop the frozen block into the frying pan. Add ½ tbsp of oil and sauté until mushrooms are warm. There is no need to pre-thaw the mushrooms. If using in a recipe, sauté mushrooms until warm, then add other ingredients.

Pros
– The is the best method to use when you want to maintain the taste and texture of a fresh sauté.

Cons
– If the mushrooms are not packed tight into the container, air will start to cause freezer burn.
– Freezer burn can slightly alter the taste and texture of the mushrooms.

Recipes you could use frozen fresh mushrooms in:
Creamy Mushroom Lasagna with Three Cheeses
Provencal Poached Salmon Dinner
Rustic Salmon Quiche

For more information on the many ways to prepare fresh mushrooms visit the Serve & Enjoy page on the Mushrooms Canada website.

– Brittany

Check Us Out: Mushroom News Online

Check Us Out: Mushroom News Online brings together all the interesting and delicious mushrooms stories from the web to one place.

News Finds:

8 Mushrooms to get to know better
Homemaker’s magazine showcases 8 varieties of fresh mushrooms. Includes great tips on flavour, and serving suggestions.

Mushroom Helps Combat Prostate Cancer Cells
A new study in the journal Nutrition and Cancer finds that the white button mushroom is particularly effective against prostate cancer.

Laura Calder’s Mushroom Ravioli
Laura Calder cooks up a delicious Mushroom Ravoili for the April Cooking Club Challenge over on Food TV.

Quick Fiesta Pork and Vegetables
Foodland Ontario offers up a stew that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages after an afternoon of outdoor fun. Try with a variety of fresh mushrooms, including crimini, portabella and shiitake.

Blog Finds:

A simple supper salad made with fridge finds
Wendi Hiebert cooks up a fabulous mushroom and egg meal with items she had on hand in her fridge. It looks delicious Wendi!

– Brittany

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