What is a Mushroom?
Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years both as food and for medicinal purposes. They are often classified as a vegetable or a herb, but they are actually fungi. While there are over 14,000 mushrooms, only about 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties, and fewer than one percent are recognized as poisonous.
The Pharaohs prized mushrooms as a delicacy, and the Greeks believed that mushrooms provided strength for warriors in battle. The Romans regarded mushrooms as a gift from God and served them only on festive occasions, while the Chinese treasured them as a health food.
While medicinal mushrooms have been used in China and Japan for more than 3,000 years to boost immunity and fight diseases such as cancer, only in the last decade has their power begun to be recognized in the United States. In more scientific terms, a number of compounds in fungi have been found to stimulate the function of the immune system, inhibit tumor growth and boost intestinal flora. Particularly, mushroom substances called terpenoids help kill bacteria and viruses and exert anti-inflammatory effects, while complex chain-like sugars called polysaccharides have been shown to exert antitumor and immuno-stimulating properties.
- The Natural Foods Merchandiser, March 2005
When buying fresh oyster mushrooms, choose mushrooms that are uniform in color, with smooth caps. Oyster mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag, but should be eaten within seven days of purchase as they perish quickly and also tend to take on the flavors of other foods.
Oyster mushrooms are best when cooked. Sauté or fry oyster mushrooms in butter or oil for up to 5 minutes, or cook them with a small amount of liquid in a covered pan for 10 to 15 minutes. After the mushrooms are cooked, add them to soups, sauces, or casseroles. The Golden Yellow Oysters should cook a little longer 10-15 Minutes until you can smell an almond flavor.