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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom consultants. About living in Italy, the Veneto area near Venice; in Indonesia, central Java. Why we love the southeast of the United States and moved back from Italy. Our love for gardening, the botanical way. Sharing with you our manifold treasures from exotic places and even offering several at Spectrenoir: http://ebay.to/2xI69uc, for others to enjoy. As well as high end silver items from Giovanni Raspini, Italy. I also do classes and consulting... too much to list here! Love to bring back some romance and quality to the daily life of others... 

Friday, April 5, 2013

{What YOU should LOOK for when Buying Fresh Mushrooms}

  • Those readers that have visited also my Zen Cart on line Boutique: Mariette's Back to Basics, have read under: About Mariette,  CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, that I have been involved into the Mushroom business. 
  • Also on my LinkedIn Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder profile you can read about my publications. So rest assured, I do know just a little bit about What to LOOK for when Buying Fresh Mushrooms.
  • You can click on the above hyperlinks and down below in this post, I will show you my Mushroom Harvesting book that  I wrote, also one page about quality with photos. 
  • Let's look at some of my Fresh Mushrooms of GREAT quality that I found at Costco.

  • These are really Firm, Closed  and with Broad Stem - the parameters you ought to look for!

  • Costco often sells brown or crimini mushrooms. But it really doesn't matter; they are all the same AGARICUS BISPORUS! Like people from Asia, Middle East, South America or Africa are looking different from Europeans. But we are ALL the very same HUMAN BEINGS and we all have red blood in our veins. So that aside, and regardless those fancy names like Baby Bella; look for the STEMS.

  • Compliments to C&M Mushrooms LLC in Avondale, Pennsylvania! They did manage to pick these mushrooms in time and shipped them out quick. Beautiful criminis. I wonder if we had these people in one of our Kenneth Square Seminars for Campbell's Soup?...

  • It was a cold and windy, but sunny day when I took these criminis out into daylight. Using my Mother-in-laws hand embroidered brown-white tablecloth and our German 'daughter-in-law's hand made oven proof dish. Earlier, above I told you already to look at the STEMS. We all could learn from the male population; ask them what they look for when checking out a girl? They look at the LEGS... Aha; lesson learned so for Mushrooms you ought to check out the STEMS! These are 98% first quality: FIRM, CLOSED and with BROAD STEMS.

  • C&M might provide their pickers some better mushroom knives, as is shown in my book. Some of these Mushrooms look like they got handled by the wrong sort of knife, or even by a dull knife. I've done consulting at some mushroom farms that would work fabulous for opening up a KNIFE MUSEUM. I laughed at the variety of knives used, mainly too long, too straight or too dull. Great for hunting, scaling fish or whatever but NOT for cutting mushrooms with a swift, straight and clean cut.
But I'm not into this business anymore...
  • Those angle shaped cuts are because they cut them in a reversed sequence, thereby dropping some 3% or more of its weight into the waste bucket; the harvester's money first but also the owner's money of course!
  • This is called: cross cut - meaning cut in the wrong sequence. 
  • Also I see here a few with Soil On Stem, for the same reason, cut in the wrong sequence.
  • This means only a little bit of work for you, the person cooking with them, as they need to be trimmed.
  • WHY do they have to have a broad stem?
Mushrooms do expand very rapidly and in about 24 hours they double in size.
A mushroom's existence is not for being good quality, but for growing up, stretching its velum between stem and cap and than finally opening up and releasing its millions of spores for the next generations...
That's the complete cycle in nature; a few times a year. After heavy rain we suddenly see them show up.
A mushroom grower just mimics Mother Nature by creating a perfect Fall or Rainy Season environment by maintaining the proper temperature, humidity and by watering daily so those fruit-bodies can grow.
Here I have to mention another FACT. 
  • Some of you believe that you CAN NOT wash a mushroom.

That is a fairy tale as they are being watered really heavy before they ended up on your counter.
Sure, during transport and even at time of harvest they ought to be DRY to prevent those bacterial blotch spots that grow within 20 minutes as those bacteria multiply rapidly and become very slimy. You know those orange looking marks? Be careful not to get those!
They are picked too moist and not handled well after harvest time.
But yes, before cooking them you can wash them with a clear conscience!
Don't wash them hours ahead of time as they will brown easily and look awful.
Wash, slice or, whatever way you will use them, and prepare right away!
  • A mushroom itself contains about 92% of water... 

  • Again, broad stems and firm first quality.

  • You should ask the male population that do select Miss U.S.A. or Miss Universe.

What is your guess; do they chose an 18-year old beauty or are they more inclined to an 80-year old beauty ...? 
  • Yes, age has a lot to do with beauty and quality. The young ones, they are firm. The older they grow on those beds, the more rubbery they become and lighter too. Only minutes away from opening up. They even will open up after they got cut by the knife!

  • AHA - gotcha! Here is a second quality mushroom that has been left on the bed at least one day too long before being harvested. So this is a middle aged woman competing for Miss Universe...

Do you see the veil that stretches all around the stem?
That veil will open up in a matter of hours as this mushroom is still desperately trying to release its millions of spores!
  • Lesson learned?

  • So no matter what, white or crimini, look for the presence of a broad stem! 
  • Regardless the size; that is still valid for small, medium and large.

  • The one to the left has been cut off by a dull knife... and it is starting to stretch its veil already...
  • So for girls in modeling, slender and long legs are considered  optimal and are called race horse legs.
  • But this is NOT the case for mushrooms; here the broader and shorter stems are proof of better quality! Of course there are several other factors to quality but here I just give you some simple examples for explaining mushroom quality in a nutshell.

  • So that's the story about Quality Fresh Mushrooms!
  • Hope you did learn a few tricks as what to look for.

  • On page 22 of my book, you can read and see the difference about first, second and third quality.

Top photo, left shows ONLY ONE first quality mushroom; bottom left is a PERFECT BEAUTY! 
Top row left is already a second quality mushroom. The others are fast on their way in becoming a second.
Totally open ones are more mature, more old and also softer and more rubbery in feel.
If they are firm and fresh they still can be used but I've seen too many on the market that were almost mushy and started already smelling foul. 
  • For me; the very best is the firm, closed one with broad stem!

  • My book is being sold on line still a lot in Russia by: Agaricus Russia foreign language literature (scroll down) besides the spawn company Sylvan that has them. If you click on above link from Alexander Tsarev, you will find it when scrolling down. Also my husband Pieter's famous Mushroom Bible (as it is being called): Modern Mushroom Growing.

  • This is the English version and it is translated and published into 8 official languages.

Two more that have been published; Romanian and Chinese, without bothering the royalties.
Not that one gets rich from writing any scientific book but it is something for leaving a mark behind you, with pride!

  • Found this once on Amazon.com and it proves that my husband Pieter's knowledge is still very much being sought after...


  1. This is wonderful information about how to choose mushrooms, Mariette! I love mushrooms and add them to salads and many things that I cook. You and Pieter are so smart for writing books and sharing your knowledge with the world. I love your beautiful hand made bowl and table cloth. What dear and lovely gifts.

  2. Dearest Mariette,
    what an informative post about mushrooms!
    I love those mushrooms!
    How interesting, Piteter wrote a book about growing mushrooms! Great!
    Have a lovely weekend,
    Love and hugs

  3. Liebe Mariette,

    ich danke aus ganzem Herzen.

    Einen guten Freitag wünscht dir


  4. Leuk...onze buurman teelt champignons, dus hier altijd verse...gelukkig wel, die we hier nu in de supermarkt kopen, komen uit Oost-Europa en verdubbelen idd in 1 dag naar 'groot, bruin en open'...en die ik bij de buurman haal, blijven zeker een week mooi vast en wit en dicht...
    En oohh dat tafelkleed, dat leerden we op school maken...het is niet geborduurd in die zin zoals borduren normaal gaat, maar de stof is al zo op de rol, en dan moest je met een 'dikke'draad een patroon maken door onder en boven die ingeweven lusjes te gaan....ze zijn er ook in het blauw....:)
    Ik heb nog een leuk klein krantenartikeltje ...volgens mij over de toen 'pas uitgevonden' 'op grote schaal kweek champignons' in Limburg....zal er ook eens een postje over maken...

  5. p.s. wat leuk...ik wist niet dat jij ook een boek over champignons geschreven had...

    Weet je...onze kinderen hebben dus ook beide bij die buurman gewerkt als bijbaantje.
    Dochter heeft er gesneden...die kent het klappen van de zweep dus ook,qua kwaliteit... en ze was goed, want heeft kleine handjes...
    en zoon was 'de jongen' dus die moest 'de bkweekbakken leeg maken en nieuw spul erin doen, schoonspuiten en ontsmetten met 'shit' enz...

  6. Hej Mariëtte, handige weetjes over champignons. Wij eten ze graag, jammer dat er op het moment een bijsmaak aan die champignons zit i.v.m. met de berichten over de uitbuiting van Poolse werknemers. Fijn weekend, lieve groet,

  7. Ik vind champions heerlijk....hemmes lust ze niet...zo jammer...maar h=gister gingen we uit eten...en heb ik een heerlijke portobello met geitenkaas gegeten !!...jammie !!...fijn weekend...x !

  8. Liebe Mariette,
    du bist für mich die Miss Champignon, weil du auch immer frisch und knackig aussiehst, wie die kleinen hellen Köpfchen in der Pilzpackung. Das war sehr interessant, von euch kann man wirklich was lernen, weil ihr echte Fachleute seid. Ist das nicht ein tollen Gefühl, wenn das eigene Buch so hoch angeboten wird? Es wird sich auch nicht viel verändert haben in der Anbaumethode.
    Liebe Grüße

  9. Thanks for your advices, Mariette. I love mushrooms, I cook them in soup, chicken with mushrooms, pizza, mushrooms with eggs, I love them natural in bins. Thanks again and hugs from Jerez.


  10. Lezione davvero approfondita sui funghi. Questa qualità qui si chiama "Champignon", un fungo molto comune e che si acquista in tutti i supermercati. A noi piacciono molto e se, freschissimi, possono essere tagliati finemente e conditi con sale, pepe, olio e una bella spruzzata di limone. A presto. Paola

  11. Liebe Mariette,
    danke für deine ausführungen über Pilze.
    Ich bin immer sehr vorsichtig und kaufe Pilze
    nur dann, wenn ich sie auch am gleichen Tag
    Einen schönen Abend wünscht

  12. Well now I know what to look for when buying mushrooms. Very interesting information. I like making mushroom risotto. Best wishes, Tammy

  13. interessante! molto interessante. I make a mushroom salad, but the mushrooms have to be really firm...and can't be washed, since the mushrooms are not cooked.

  14. THANKS all for reading and commenting on this post! Of course it feels good to go back into my former job, once in a while!
    Have a great weekend.

  15. I have never liked mushrooms I just don't like the taste or smell or look of them

  16. Interessante Ausführungen, liebe Mariette! Und Ihr seid damit richtig berühmt!


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