After surfing the web, social media pages and groups we’ve identified several misconceptions and mistakes regarding mushrooms in general. We’ve decided to write a short and concise article regarding these issues in order to both help people in avoiding mishaps and making better use of mushrooms.
Below are 10 of the most common mistakes and misconceptions regarding mushrooms that we found on the web:
1- Not eating enough mushrooms.
Considering that mushrooms are insanely good for you, it is honestly embarrassing to consider that they appear so rarely in diets. And in most cases mushrooms are very cheap (3 medium mushrooms per serving are more than enough). Not to mention that most of the recipes are incredibly easy to make and require very little effort with mouthwatering results. Mushroom risotto, pastas, frittatas and soups are one of the easiest things one can make in a kitchen. You can even dry mushrooms and grind them into dust and use them as seasoning to add that umami taste to your potatoes, meats and veggies.
Another point in the favor of mushrooms is that they are incredibly hard to burn while cooking since around 70% of the weight of a mushroom is made out of water.
2- Not growing your own mushrooms.
Another mistake regarding mushrooms is not trying to grow them at home: growing kits are widely available nowadays, and the space-to-yield ratio makes them one of the best candidates for your garden or your apartment’s vertical garden.
And by growing your own mushrooms you do the environment an immense favor: You can get safely get rid of your coffee grounds and use them a nourishment for your mushroom cultivation at home. Coffee grounds take a long time to decompose in the environment, unless mushrooms are involved. Just keep all your coffee grounds in a sealed container and feed it to the mushrooms. Mushrooms are happy, you are happy and so is the environment.
3- Mushrooms are not veggies.
Fungi are their own kingdom, and on a cellular level are much closer to animal cells than to plants. They were present on this earth long before any other complex organism and are simply amazing for that fact. Fungi are extremely important for the environment, they help decompose and breakdown materials necessary for life. They are a staple in the biological Samsara that is at the very basis of life itself.
Considering that fungi like Prototaxites (giant, 2 meter, looming mushrooms dating from the middle Ordovician) are credited for the creation of soil by breaking down volcanic rocks into smaller components, it should make one think of how essential mushrooms are for life as we know it.
4- No, You do not destroy a mushroom if you pick it.
What we consider as mushrooms are the equivalent of fruit from trees. As you do not kill and apple tree by picking its apples, you do not destroy a mushroom by picking it from the ground. That is because the part responsible for producing the mushroom is hidden well below ground , or in the trunk, in the form of mycelium which can in some cases expand for miles. If the mushroom has reached maturity and has already produced spores there is no damage in picking it.
If you pick a mushroom you can actually be doing it a favor by helping it shed its spores as you move. As long as you don’t move it in a plastic bag or a closed container. This is why wicker baskets are a forager’s best option for mushrooms: by using wicker baskets you are increasing your chances of finding more mushrooms the next time around.
5- Mushroom foraging mistakes.
The top mistake is going to forage alone, with no way to contact anybody and without telling anybody in which direction you are going. This is because , statistically, most accidents regarding mushroom foraging derive from falling and getting stranded in the middle of the woods alone.
Another mistake when it comes to foraging is using mushroom and plant recognition apps. Those applications are not reliable – the French government has even issued a warning against the use of identification apps due to a worrying increase in mushroom misidentification which resulted in poisoning from depending on these apps (source).
A common mistake is to only consider the morphological aspect (e.g: color) when identifying mushrooms. Some mushrooms can look very similar and their appearance (and sometimes edibility) can change with geographical location. It is often wise to make sure of what you have between your hands by examining the spore print of the mushroom. However, in some cases even spore prints might not be enough.
When foraging for mushrooms is the reliance on old folk methods like garlic or other plants to identify poisonous mushrooms is not recommended . Those methods have no real scientific basis and are more likely to put cause you harm by misidentifying a mushroom. And no, milk does not help against mushroom poisoning. In some cases it can actually make it worse.
6- The difference between “Non edible mushroom” and “Poisonous mushrooms”.
Many people don’t realize that “non edible” does not mean it will poison you or kill you – it means that it is not good to eat, maybe due to its taste or the fact that it is a “woody mushroom” and would probably hurt you gums if you try to to chew it. On the other hand, mushrooms of the poisonous inclination can have a pleasurable taste at times (False morels – particularly Gyromitra esculenta is an example).
7- Another common mistake: Medicinal mushrooms do nothing.
Yes, and Penicillium molds are just a molds which in no way or fashion have changed our lives. The idea that mushrooms bring no health benefits is another very common misconception when it comes to mushrooms. You can , by yourself , check google scholar for the number of scientific and clinical research involving mushrooms, or you can check this abstract here.
8 – Eating mushrooms and expecting miracles.
Many people sustain that they have eaten mushrooms that are considered medicinal (such as Lion’s Mane , aka Hericium erinaceus) and have never received any benefits.
Most active components in the mushroom are not thermostable, which means they degrade with the application of heat. So if you cook the mushroom you’re reducing the benefits you receive from it. Hence, one shouldn’t expect a mushroom like Lion’s Mane to have beneficial effects after cooking it in butter and eating it once every few weeks.
Another point is that the quantity of mushroom (and active components it contains) you’d have to consume is rather high and depends on you body weight. Consistency is also a key factor in obtaining benefits.
Now here comes the tricky part, since more than 70% of the mushrooms weight is made out of water this means that you cannot quantify the quantity of actual beneficial components you are taking. The best way around it is to remove the water by dehydrating the mushroom in order to figure out an approximation of your daily intake.
Not to mention that eating mushrooms every day in order to use them for medicinal purposes can result in a rather monotonous diet which everybody will strive to avoid in a very short period of time.
If you want to use mushrooms for the beneficial health effects you should consider taking in the form of high quality dietary supplements, which brings us to the next point.
9- Mushroom dietary supplements not taken with vitamin C.
What most people don’t know is that active components contained in the mushrooms are rather complex molecules which are hard for the body to breakdown and absorb. Regardless of the objective quality of the mushroom dietary supplement, it is always a good idea to take it with 250 mg – 500 mg of vitamin C to help the body make the most of it before it passes out of your organism.
This is vital information which not many dietary supplement producers like to share with people since it might turn most people away from the product. But you need to take vitamin C with mushroom dietary supplements for bioavailability
10 – Mushroom dietary supplements taken with coffee.
We’re from Italy, the concept of good coffee for us is nearly sacred. A good cup of coffee can make or break a meal for us. That said we need to stress on the fact that mixing mushroom dietary supplements with coffee is not the best practice since some active principles are not heat resistant and might reduce the benefits. In addition the quantity of mushroom infused coffee you’d have to drink in order to reach your recommended daily intake of mushroom supplements might give you more problems than it is worth.
That said we really hope you enjoyed this article about common mistakes and misconceptions that people have regarding mushrooms because we really enjoyed writing it. In case of any questions you can contact us here or through our social media. We hope to have made your day a little bit more informative.