Mushrooms and their uses


The mushrooms –Or mushrooms-, unlike what many people believe, they are not plants they do not produce their own food as vegetables do –among other things-.

The most common fungi are called mushrooms (also known as paris mushrooms), however in the group of fungi there are also the yeast, which have great economic importance since they are the ones that produce the fermentation of beer and bread.

However, one of the most important uses is as food since it has been proven that the habitual consumption of mushrooms can improve the functions of the organism.

Benefits of mushrooms

Among its nutritional contributions are the following:

  • Proteins.- It is believed that these foods have more protein than most vegetables due to their good balance of amino acids being an excellent option, especially in the Vegetarian diets.
  • Vitamins and minerals.- They have a large amount of these elements, basic in the daily diet.
  • They are low in calories (approximately 28 calories per 100 g of raw mushrooms) due to its low amount of carbohydrates and fats, being a very good option for control your weight.
  • They are rich in antioxidants –And other substances- that stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
  • They are low in sodium.

Other uses that can be given to mushrooms are:

  • As ornaments.- In countries like Mexico, mushrooms, accompanied by flowers and branches, have been used for aesthetic purposes for years to perform some ceremonies.
  • As hallucinogens.- Some mushrooms such as psilocybin mushrooms have been exploited by the pharmaceutical industry with psychotherapeutic purposes.
  • As medicines.- Since the discovery of the penicillin, a large industry has developed around antibiotics that have been of great help in the fight of many diseases.

Characteristics of mushrooms

Although its structure can be close to plants, it has many differences with them. One of the main ones is that fungi need other living things to survive, since they cannot produce their food. It should be mentioned that its cells are eukaryotic, that is, they have their nucleus as happens with plants or animals. But in this case, they do not perform the same functions as them. They are usually multicellular, although it is true that we will find some unicellular species, such as yeast.

We couldn't speak of just one place in where mushrooms live. Since they can develop in different habitats. Although it is true that forests or humid areas are his favorites. But it must be said that certain species are hidden from light and will grow in darker areas. As we mentioned, they can be adapted to different types of space.

As for the feeding of fungi, they need organic decomposition or a moist soil to help them. Since as ecological work, mushrooms are necessary for the environment, since helps break down organic matter, so we could say that they help to recycle. Its reproduction is through spores and can be divided between sexual or asexual reproduction.


Mushrooms and their uses

They can be classified into four large groups to take into account:

  • The Saprophytes: They are those that feed on organic matter that can come from both animals and plants.
  • Mycorrhizal: They are all those who have a relationship with plants. This is that they exchange both some nutrients and water and take vitamins from plants, since fungi are not capable of generating them.
  • Lichenized: They are organisms that come from the union between the fungus and an alga.
  • Parasites: They usually appear inside the body of another living being, at the same time that they take the nutrients from it.

How to recognize edible mushrooms

Characteristics of mushrooms

It is true that mushrooms can be used in the preparation of more than exquisite dishes. But for this we must recognize those that are edible. Something that is not always an easy task, since there are many varieties.

  • The first step that we will take will be the look at the scales, since these are usually presented in the area of ​​the hat. These scales will be composed of spores, so you will see how a single fungus is never usually there, but there are several around it.
  • The top is removed, and the mushroom is placed upside down. In this way the spores will come out, which can be of various colors such as white, brown or beige. If you see a red or blue color, then you better leave them where they are.
  • They usually have that characteristic shape of the mushrooms that we know. We will find them next to the bark of the trees, as well as in fairly humid parts.

There are no concise keys to know if a mushroom is edible or not. More than anything because there are many species that can lead us to confusion. That is why we must always leave this step to the experts.

Are there poisonous mushrooms?

Poisonous fungi

Yes there are poisonous mushrooms. Some of the types may emit certain toxins that, in some cases, are even lethal. Even having ingested them in advance. When taking a mushroom of this type, we can begin to feel both nausea and colic, cold sweat or tachycardia among other symptoms. Depending on the fungus in question and the amount consumed, it can create very serious problems in the kidneys, as well as the liver and death, in more serious cases. Some of the poisonous mushrooms are: Amanita Abrupta, Amanita bisporigera or Galerina Marginata and Boletus Pulcherrimus, among many others.

Uses of mushrooms

  • Yeast is one of the main ones since it intervenes in the fermentation process. Thanks to it and its varieties you can make bread, as well as beer or wine.
  • Another use of mushrooms has been to get varnish. The carpenters and cabinetmakers were coloring the wooden furniture thanks to a mushroom.
  • From the same mushroom, called 'Inonotus Hispidus', they were also obtained matches. To do this, it was cut into small pieces and put into nitrates. What made the flame of the fire hold.
  • For sharpening tools: Although it seems a bit complicated, there is a species of mushroom by the name of 'Piptoporus Betulinus' that is cut into slices and has to dry well to harden. Once this happens, you are ready to sharpen your knives and blades.
  • How to Live Aligned with writing ink: Many years ago, some writers used the mushroom 'Coprinus comatus' that cast a black ink, with which the inkwells were filled.

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