…So here’s to the mushroom family
A far-flung friendly clan
For food, for fun, for poison
They are a help to man.
By Gary Snider
The little white Button Mushrooms, the slightly larger brown Cremini Mushrooms, and the large, brown Portabella Mushrooms are all the same mushroom…the only differences being color variety and stage at which it is harvested.
In 1707 French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort wrote the earliest found description of this mushroom. In 1893 at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France it was discovered that the spores needed to be sterilized for the culture to grow. Up until that time it was very difficult to cultivate mushrooms, since the farmers would dig them up out of fields to transplant and they were often infected by pathogens and often nothing grew at all.
In 1926 a white mutation was found in a mushroom farm in Pennsylvania. It was seen as more attractive, and so the popular white button mushroom came into popularity. Now the southeast corner of Pennsylvania is considered the mushroom growing capitol of the world!
The Button form of this mushroom is probably the most well known mushroom in the US. Most people when they hear the word mushroom visualize the button mushroom first, even if they are familiar with other varieties. The small button mushroom has a mild flavor which is best if eaten before the veil protecting the gills is broken. Once the veil is broken they are stronger in flavor and cook up darker in color. This common mushroom can be found at the grocer, fresh, canned or dried. It can be found in soups and stew, on pizza, salads, casseroles, and stuffed. They are eaten as a main course, appetizer, or side dish.
Research is being carried out currently to further study the effect of mushrooms on aromatase levels. It may be able to reduce estrogen levels in the female body, which might reduced the breast cancer susceptibility. Women who ate mushrooms daily (in the earlier study) were 64% less likely to develop breast cancer. While women who ate the mushrooms and drank green tea reduced the risk by 90%! Another study showed promise in improving the body’s immune system.
In ancient times mushrooms were eaten in Egypt but only by the Pharaohs. In Rome they believed that mushrooms provided strength to the body. In magic use eat mushrooms to increase psychic awareness.