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Botanical name: Agaricus sp.



Mushrooms were already grown in France in the 17th century and were given the name "Champignon de Paris" – champignon meaning 'mushroom' in French.

Today, the USA is the largest producer worldwide. China, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Belgium are also important suppliers on the world market. However, the amounts cultivated in Germany are by no means insignificant and meet approximately 90% of the domestic demand.


Different varieties grow wild in nature. Wild mushrooms are almost never offered for sale, however, only cultivated varieties, the advantage being that they grow year round in greenhouses and are always available.

Appearance, taste, characteristics

Mushrooms belong to the saprophytes; i.e., they grow chiefly on already productive substrate, whether chemical, physical or microbiological. Decayed straw and composted horse manure are good substrates for their growth.

The caps of the mushrooms reach a diameter of up to 10 cm. According to the variety, they are white, cream-coloured or brown. The skin of the cap is usually smooth, or somewhat imbricate. The edge of the cap and the stem are connected by a white skin, which tears apart as the mushroom matures. The gills are also white, but over time they change colour, ranging from pink and light brown to dark brown. The flesh is also white and has an aromatic taste that can resemble almond, walnut or anis.

Several varieties of mushrooms are differentiated:

* Horse mushroom

This appears from May through October on meadows, pastures and fields, in parks and coniferous forests, and grows chiefly under bushes.

* Brown mushroom

Unlike the light-coloured mushrooms, this grows not in coniferous forests but in deciduous forests, where it can be found from July until October. Only the cap is brown; the stem and meat are white like those of all other mushroom varieties. They are more intensive in taste than their white relatives.

*Pavement mushroom

From May until into the autumn this mushroom grows on sandy, grassy soil, on gravel and roadsides, but not in the forest. It is rarely cultivated here.

* Field mushroom

This is a good, edible mushroom that grows from May till October on meadows and pastures.

* Wood mushroom

This grows, usually beginning in October, in damp coniferous forests, preferably in the vicinity of spruce or pine trees.

Earlier, mushrooms were cultivated in dark, dank cellars, vaults or quarries. Today special greenhouses are available, in which an exactly regulated climate is maintained for optimal growth.


100 g contain:

Mushrooms, fresh
Mushrooms, fried
Energy (kcal)
Water (g)
Protein (g)
Fat (g)
< 1
< 1
Carbohydrates (g)
< 1
< 1
Fibre (g)
Vitamin B1 (μg)
Vitamin B2 (μg)
Niacin (NE) (mg)
Pantothenic acid (mg)
Biotin (μg)
Vitamin D (μg)
Potassium (mg)
Phosphorous (mg)
Iron (mg)

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Mushrooms are sold fresh, deep-frozen, dried or tinned. Tined mushrooms are sold in the greatest quantity. Where fresh mushrooms are concerned, the trend is meanwhile to the more aromatic brown mushrooms. Giant mushrooms are also being sold in more quantity today.

Because of their sensitivity to pressure, heat and light they should always be stored in a cool, dark place. When buying them, pay attention to the caps. As far as possible, they should have no bruises and they should not be smeary.

In addition, if you buy already packaged mushrooms, there should be no mouldy ones among them. Mould forms as a white fuzz and is not always recognizable right away. If you buy unpackaged goods you avoid this risk. However, since the unpackaged are usually somewhat more expensive than packaged mushrooms, they aren't sold as frequently and they may be less fresh.

Generally, mushrooms spoil easily and keep only a few days. Thus you should eat them as soon as possible after purchasing them. The brown variety can be kept a few days longer.

After buying packaged mushrooms you should remove the packaging immediately to prevent the formation of condensed water on the underside of the plastic wrap. This moistens the mushrooms and makes them spoil more quickly.

Presumed effect on health

White button mushrooms, like oyster and shiitake mushrooms, contribute to lowering the cholesterol level.

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Before mushrooms are cooked, the lower part of the stem should be removed and any remnants of soil wiped away with a paper towel. It is not necessary to peel fresh mushrooms.

As a general rule, it is said that mushrooms should not be washed. This is not a bad idea, because the mushrooms would otherwise soak up water and become tough when they were fried. However, there is nothing to be said against only briefly rinsing them and then letting them drip dry on a paper towel. If you place the mushrooms in water with vinegar or lemon juice for a short time, this will prevent the caps and the flesh from turning brown.

Cleaned mushrooms can be used whole, halved, quartered or sliced in many different ways. Raw or fried, they are a delicious accompaniment to salads. Or they can be seared, deglazed with balsamic vinegar and parsley and served on fresh baguette. Innumerable dishes can be made of and with mushrooms, e.g., cream of mushroom soup, mushroom sauce, filled mushrooms, pâté, marinated mushrooms, noodle and rice dishes and the most varied meat dishes.

In the food industry they are also used in many ways, for instance on frozen pizzas, in packaged soups, ready-to-eat noodle dishes, and sausages such as mushroom mortadella.

Seasoning tip

Never season mushrooms too strongly so as not to mask their typical taste. According to the given dish, various herbs and spices are suited to mushrooms, such as parsley, nutmeg and ground paprika.


Attention: If you go mushroom-picking in the forest yourself you must be very careful with the death cup mushroom. It resembles the ordinary button mushroom very closely, but it is toxic and most likely responsible for a majority of all fatal cases of mushroom poisoning. The treacherous thing about them is that neither the taste nor the smell is suspicious.

The death cup mushroom is especially dangerous because of how its poison works. It does not show its effect until it is fully absorbed in the blood. Other toxins have caustic characteristics, for example, and cause vomiting, but the toxin of this mushroom does not, which is why such poisonings are almost always fatal.





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