I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard people say that mushrooms don’t have any nutritional value. Surprisingly they do contain some essential nutrients and that varies with the type of mushroom.
In general mushrooms are a great source of B Vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid, as well as minerals like copper and selenium. When exposed to UV light the Vitamin D is activated which makes them the only non-meat source of food to contain this important vitamin. Maitakes have the most Vitamin D with over four times what is in portabella, chanterelle, morel and shiitake mushrooms. Mushrooms are also full of antioxidants and when cooked they have about 2 g of protein depending on the variety. The nutritional profile can vary a bit from mushroom to mushroom. For example, Shiitake mushrooms are a good source of iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc while chanterelles contain beta-carotene.
Dried mushrooms are extremely lightweight and easy to rehydrate. I often dry my own if I have other foods to dehydrate but there are times where I visit my favorite grocery store or the Asian market. Dried mushrooms aren’t expensive and it saves time. You can buy almost any variety you can think of, like Portobello, Cremini, Shiitake, Lobster, Oyster, Morel, Chanterelles, Enoki, and Black Trumpet to name a few.
Mushrooms are nutritionally sound but not very high in calories. Luckily they are versatile so if you are using them for backpacking you’ll need to add them to something else. Here are a few ideas…
– pasta sauce
– backcountry pizzas
– soups and stews
– in biscuits or flat bread
– omelets or scrambled eggs
– shepherd’s pie
– instant polenta
When you rehydrate the mushrooms for something where you won’t be using the liquid I’d recommend drinking it. I know that sounds a little strange but why toss the nutrients? One of my readers even takes fresh mushrooms and stir fries them with garlic, olive oil, and parsley. You could do this with rehydrated dried mushrooms too. Try adding some mushrooms to an instant white sauce, such as Alfredo, and stirring it into your pasta. Another neat thing I learned watching Bobby Flay on Food Network, is that you can also grind them into a powder and put a tablespoon of that into a gravy, soup or sauce to add extra mushroom flavor and nutrition. The possibilities are endless.
Here is a Mushroom Burgundy recipe from my second trail cookbook.
From Another Fork in the Trail
Dehydration Time: 7–10 hours
Makes 4–5 servings
2 tablespoons butter or vegan butter substitute
1 pound cremini mushrooms, diced
1 pound portobello mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine (use something full bodied, preferably a Burgundy)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 1/2 tablespoons potato flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter together in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until they begin to take on color but aren’t releasing any juices. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Cook carrots and onion until the onions are golden brown. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. This will deglaze the pot. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and reduce the liquid by half to concentrate the flavors. Stir in the vegetable stock and tomato paste. Bring the mixture back to the boil and add the mushrooms along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Add the pearl onions and let simmer for 5 more minutes.
Mix the remaining tablespoon of butter with the potato flour until well combined and then stir it into the pot. Add the thyme. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until it reaches a thick stew-like consistency. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Measure the mushroom burgundy and write this measurement on a sticky note. Pour onto lined dehydrator trays and dry for 7 to 10 hours. Place the dried stew and the sticky note in a ziplock freezer bag.
Add enough boiling water to the mushroom burgundy to equal the measurement on your sticky note. Be sure to account for and add your dried ingredients to the rehydration container prior to adding the water. You can always add more water if you need to. Once the meal has rehydrated, reheat if necessary and serve over broad noodles or with potatoes or French bread.
The day you plan to have the stew for dinner, start rehydrating it at lunchtime by mixing the dried ingredients with cool water in a leakproof container. The stew will be fully rehydrated at dinner time.
PowerOfMushrooms.com – The Essential Nutrients in Mushrooms
Mushrooms.ca – Nutriton & Wellness
FitDay.com – Ask an Expert: Do Mushrooms Have Any Nutritional Value?