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Among other preparation methods for mushrooms, steaming them works very well. Steaming is especially good for keeping the nutrients in. Steaming mushrooms for 10 minutes will make them tender and juicy, and because of a heat-stable compound in mushrooms, you can steam them for up to forty minutes with similar results.
How To Steam Mushrooms
Steamed foods reach cooking heat through the release of very hot air from boiling water. Because this method doesn’t involve adding butter, oil, or any other fat to flavor food and keep it from sticking to a pan, you reduce the fat, calories, or anything else you might be limiting out of the dish without sacrificing flavor.
To steam your mushrooms, fill a pot less than halfway with water. Fit a shallow metal strainer inside that sits on the pot’s lip so that the strainer’s bottom remains above the waterline. Turn on to medium heat to bring it to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cover the strainer loosely with a lid. The minimum length of time to steam them depends on their size, but probably 10-15 minutes.
You can also steam them using a handmade ‘pot’ that works as well on a campfire as it does in the oven. Fold a generous sheet of aluminum foil to a flat shape resembling a circle or square to lie in the center serving as the bottom of your ‘pot.’ Add mushrooms, 3-5 tablespoons of water, vegetable broth, wine, lemon juice, or whatever else you’d like to add. Gently fold sides over, joining them so that mushrooms and liquid have space inside to steam, but the foil’s ends are tightly tucked. Several cups of mushrooms should steam for 15-20 minutes.
You may also opt to use your rice cooker for steaming other foods, vegetables, and mushrooms, among them. Rice cookers heat water to boiling so their contents can absorb it and then keep it simmering and warm afterward. All you’ll need to do is use the cooker’s steamer basket for your mushrooms and choose your programming time, which will again be between 10 and 20 minutes. It works the same way as a countertop electric steamer. You could even turn it into a convenient one-pot meal and steam rice along with your mushrooms, flavored with broth, wine, herbs, or some mix of accouterments you love.
How Long To Steam Mushrooms? Why?
Many consider mushrooms to be the ‘meat’ for vegetarians, and indeed cooked mushrooms can provide the kind of substantial main course like meat does. Yet as fungi, they fall into an entirely different category than either plants or animals. Their cell walls contain chitin, a component of crustaceans’ outer shells. Chitin’s chemical makeup bears similarities to both the cellulose in plant cell walls and protein in animal cell membranes, which is interesting to bear in mind when thinking about the nutritional value of mushrooms. A hearty portion of steamed or cooked mushrooms, flavored with broth or oil as well as herbs, can fill you up and provide vitamins and minerals without the bad stuff.
The chitin in mushrooms plays a big role in their foolproof cooking quality. Because chitin possesses thermostability or doesn’t react much to heat, you can steam them for almost any length of time, and they will keep their firm yet spongy texture instead of cooking down to mush. You can’t over-steam them in regards to ruining their consistency or flavor.
Benefits of Steaming Mushrooms
Mushrooms in and of themselves are certainly not sinful eating. They are low in calories, fat, and sugars but provide a good source of protein and vitamin D. They also contain fiber and vitamin C and a list of other cancer-fighting antioxidants. They contain polyphenols and polysaccharides that have antioxidant properties and are heart-healthy, which help counteract the aging process of cells and aid the immune system. Antioxidants like glutathione and fibers such as beta-glucan, both contained in mushrooms, support the cell processes of warding off infection and eliminating other detrimental foreign substances. Vitamin C signals the immune system to form cells that react with invasive agents and diseases like cancer to fight them off.
More studies delve into mushrooms’ properties that help the heart, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, balance the bacteria that line the gut, and help control rises in blood sugar. Beta-glucan interacts with cholesterol to lessen its absorption into the bloodstream, while ergothioneine, an amino acid occurring in mushrooms, keeps triglycerides busy and out of the way. This interaction may explain one study that found that men who consumed mushroom powder during a meal ended up with lower cholesterol and triglycerides afterward. Researchers continue to look into whether ergothioneine can also combat the formation of plaque on the arterial walls, responsible for setting up conditions that lead to heart disease. Mushrooms’ bountiful antioxidants may boost the good bacteria in the GI tract and help control blood sugar, but more studies should be done on this to tell for sure.
Check out this video below to see six simple ways to prepare mushrooms:
What Dishes Can I Use Steamed Mushrooms In?
Much like tofu, mushrooms have a mild earthy flavor that complements just about any savory food, and they can take on other flavors depending on what you use in the cooking process. Steam them with broth, wine, or both instead of water. Mix in a few teaspoons of lemon juice, mustard, or vinegar to the pot if you’re going for a stronger taste. Add fresh or dried herbs before steaming to impart more flavor or atop the finished dish. They’re great for smothering proteins and main dishes or making side dishes shine. And thanks to their nutritional composition, they bring enough protein to be filling yet so little of anything that would take health food fans aback.
Steam mushrooms with herbs and a light, flavorful broth, and they make a great side dish on their own. A heaping one or two cups of steamed mushrooms can take center stage in the main course of risotto, rice pilaf, or pasta. Add vegetables to one of these, which you can steam with the mushrooms, or a flavorful sauce or sprinkling of cheese.
Add steamed mushrooms and seasoning over any protein, from chicken, fish, or steak to tofu, to make a restaurant-worthy meal that will keep you feeling satisfied for hours. Even more elegant, reserve some herbed broth or wine instead of using all of it in the steaming process and thicken for a healthy version of a delectable sauce. As either a variation on or an addition to the county fair classic grilled bratwurst with peppers and onions, sprinkle steamed mushrooms on top of your sausage or veggie bratwurst.
Mushrooms mix well with the equally mild flavor of eggs, so use steamed mushrooms in an omelet or scrambled eggs, by themselves or with onions and sweet or spicy peppers. Steam them with spinach and peppers and spoon on top of flatbread, adding cheese, fresh tomatoes, onions, Canadian bacon, pineapple, spicy peppers, or any combination you love.
Mushrooms have always made a great topping for burgers, and when they’re steamed instead of sauteed with oil, you can add as many as you like with no extra fat grams on the tally. Many people even use a big portobello to replace a burger or sandwich filling or served without a bun as a steak.
Opting for steamed mushrooms instead of sauteed or roasted gives you moist, tender texture with no oil or butter necessary. Steaming is an easy, low-maintenance cooking method, and steamed mushrooms pair well with a long list of delicious foods. Enjoy!
Want to eat clean? Check out this delicious recipe of steamed shiitake mushrooms: