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What are Mushrooms?
Mushroom is a fleshy fruiting body of a fungus, especially of a basidiomycete of the family Agaricaceae. In fact, mushroom is a common name for an edible agaric which has a fleshy and non-fleshy texture. It can grow above or underground. Mushroom arises from the mycelium, which may live hundreds of years or a few months, depending on its food supply. Many people know that mushrooms can be used as food, but at the same time they can serve as sign of the presence of a wood decay fungus. The majority of mushrooms are edible, and only a few contains toxic agents and are poisonous. Since they does not contain chlorophyll, the pigment used by plants to produce their own food and energy; mushrooms differ from plants.


Popularly, "mushroom" refers to the edible sporophores, while "toadstool" refers to inedible or poisonous sporophores, but there is no scientific distinction between the two names. In some cultures, mushrooms were even regarded as sacred and their use was prohibited to ordinary people. It is believed that the Romans were the first people to use edible mushrooms for food. What was regarded as an elite food item earlier has now grown commercially and is commonly available in almost all parts of the world.

People who collect mushrooms for consumption are known as mycophagists, and the act of collecting them for such is known as mushroom hunting, or simply "mushrooming". Shiitake, maitake or hen-of-the-woods, oyster, and enoki are the names of some varieties which are widely used for human consumption.


How to Identify Mushroom
One must understands the macroscopic structure of mushrooms in order to differentiate various varieties. The majority of mushrooms are gilled and basidiomycetes. Their spores, called basidiospores, are produced on the gills and fall in a fine rain of powder from under the caps as a result. Spore print colors include white (most common), brown, black, purple-brown, pink, yellow, and cream, but almost never blue, green, or red.

Mushrooms can be classified as under:

  • Edible Mushrooms: There are many varieties of mushrooms which are safe for human consumption. In many countries of the world, edible mushrooms are used extensively in cooking. There are innumerable Chinese, European and Japanese cuisines which are prepared from mushrooms. Though, they hardly contain any nutrients, they are high in fibre and provide vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, cobalamins, ascorbic acid. They are also a source of some minerals, including iron, selenium, potassium and phosphorous. Agaricus bisporus is one of the most widely consumed varieties in the world.
  • Toxic Mushrooms: There are certain species which looks like edible mushroom and contain toxic elements. Consumption of such varieties may be fatal. Although there are only a small number of deadly species, several others can cause particularly severe and unpleasant symptoms.
  • Psilocybin Mushrooms: Also known by the names of "magic mushrooms" "mush" or "shrooms", they possess psychedelic properties. These mushrooms are available in smart shops in many parts of the world. Since some of them contain psychoactive properties, they have been widely used for mental and physical healing in many traditional medicinal systems.
  • Medicinal Mushrooms: Certain varieties of mushrooms contain healing and therapeutic properties. For thousands of years, these varieties were the important part of the traditional medicinal system. Researchers find that varieties like maitake, shiitake, chaga, and reishi contain anti-cancer, anti-viral, or immunity-enhancing properties. Psilocybin, originally an extract of certain psychedelic mushrooms, is being studied for its ability to help people suffering from mental disease, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Below are the names of certain globally known mushroom cuisines:

  • Dry Mushrooms
  • Egg Khesh
  • Cold Mushroom Marinade
  • Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Grilled Oyster Mushroom
  • Baked Garlic Mushrooms
  • Baked Garlic Mushrooms
  • Hungarian Mushroom Soup
  • Broccoli & Mushroom Steamed Rice
  • Chicken and Mushroom Cream Soup
  • Broccoli & Mushroom Steamed Rice
  • Chicken and Mushroom Cream Soup.
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