Cooking Mushrooms

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Mushrooms can be cooked in many different ways. Their flavor is generally most developed and intense when they are cooked slowly with dry heat to allow enzymes some time to work before being inactivated, and to cook out some of their abundant water and concentrate the amino acids, sugars, and aromas. Heat also collapses air pockets and consolidates the texture. (The combination of water and air loss means that mushrooms shrink considerably when cooked.) Like cellulose, chitin and some other cell-wall materials are not soluble in water, so mushrooms don’t get mushy with prolonged cooking. The jelly and ear fungi, which are popular in Asian cuisines, contain an unusual amount of soluble carbohydrates, and this is why they develop a gelatinous texture.