Magic mushrooms

It is my feeling that mushrooms are most underrated. From my rooting through the contents of people’s refrigerators over the years I’ve often observed the poor things shoved in the chiller draw, their skin darkening to a slimy consistency beneath the Clingfilm cover of their packaging.

I suspect such waste is due to people viewing them as components of dishes, say omelets, stir-fry’s or pies, and not as a meal in themselves. They are left to languish and discarded without ever being touched – the Miss Havershams of the food world.

With October named Mushroom Month by the aptly named Mushroom Bureau, I’m taking this opportunity to encourage people to take more interest in the vegetable. Especially as the cultivation of mushrooms is quite fascinating. During a trip to Waitrose’s Leckford Estate, I took a tour of its mushroom sheds.

Chestnut mushrooms growing in Waitrose’s sheds

Here there are rows upon rows of beds filled with compost, the shrooms appearing on the top in a process known as ‘flash’. The veg needs to be harvested as quickly as possible after the flash while they are still fresh. Waitrose grows its entire chestnut mushroom supply in these sheds, where they are also packed and sent off to stores.

Just harvested mushrooms

I took home a box and we had mushrooms on toast, which is, in my opinion; one of the most delicious eats one can make for any meal occasion, be it breakfast, lunch or supper. We gently heated the mushrooms in butter, then served them up on a couple of slices of sourdough bread and washed it down with mugs of tea.

So next time you purchase a pack, half-use them and then leave the rest in the fridge, let this post inspire you to rescue them from the bin.

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