Beefsteak Mushrooms – What You Should Know
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The scientific name for Beefsteak mushrooms is Fistulina Hepatica. “Hepatica” means “liver-like”, which makes sense once you see the striking appearance of the Beefsteak mushroom. It is also known as Ox Tongue, Liver Mushroom, or “The Poor Man’s Beefsteak”. It’s dark red, with marbled flesh, and it oozes a red liquid, very similar to meat. It belongs to the Agaricales species of fungi and is part of the group of mushrooms known as bracket, polypore, or shelf fungi which are found on living or dead trees.
Beefsteak mushrooms thrive when it’s damp. They can grow individually or in groups.
Where To Find Beefsteak Mushrooms And When
Beefsteak mushrooms are most common in Britain, but they also appear in Eastern Europe, North America, North Africa, Southern Africa, and Australia. They grow on the lower part of tree trunks, most commonly sweet chestnuts and oaks. They can also grow on roots or trunks once the trees die.
In the Northern hemisphere, their season runs from July to October, and they don’t persist through the winter.
How To Identify Them
Beefsteak mushrooms can be distinguished by their liver-like shape and rosy meat color making them relatively easy to forage for. Their form is semi-circular and they have a raised edge when young which eventually becomes flat when the mushroom matures. The young fruiting bodies resemble more the shape of a strawberry rather than a beef tongue or liver but eventually grow “meatier” in shape.
The cap has a reddish-brown or dark pink colour and stretches 10 inches (25 cm) wide on average. The stem is not visible from a distance and you can see it only once you stretch the mushroom lightly and cut it off. It’s also not found in younger mushrooms. The flesh inside is off-white and releases a dark red liquid in droplets that looks like blood. The spores when enlarged are ovular in shape and have a yellowish-white hue.
These mushrooms can trigger a brown rot on the trees they infest.
No other fungi look quite like Beefsteak mushrooms, so confusing them with something poisonous or inedible is not likely.
How To Grow Them
This mushroom normally takes more than 50 years to grow in the wild and it’s among the slowest growing species of mushrooms globally. However, you may grow your own relatively quickly within a few months using logs infused with spore. The mushrooms grow best on oak (or sweet chestnut) logs that are more than 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and experts suggest that you use more than 50 plugs of spore per 25 inches (64 cm) of log length.
Health Benefits of Beefsteak Mushrooms
Beefsteak mushrooms provide many health benefits, including having medicinal properties. For example, they’re antioxidant, antibacterial, nematicidal, which means it kills nematodes (a kind of parasite). They help combat common pathogens such as E. coli and Staphylococcus which cause various diseases, and these mushrooms may provide anti-tumor benefits as well.
This kind of mushroom is also rich in essential micro-nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. It’s a great source of vitamin D, B-complex vitamins, and it has antioxidants which can reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and different types of cancer.
Another great thing about Beefsteak mushrooms is that they’re high in beta-glucans, helpful in lowering high cholesterol levels. In other words, Beefsteak mushrooms are truly a superfood that has a lot to offer.
Beefsteak mushrooms contain 30% protein, even more than real steak. They are an incredible source of proteins which are easy to assimilate and digest. Unlike plant protein sources, Beefsteak mushroom protein is more complex and complete and is associated with valuable amino acids which are good for muscle growth and nervous system health. These mushrooms also contain dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which improves gut health, and it reduces LDL cholesterol. They are also low in calories and have zero carbohydrates which makes them an excellent choice for calorie or carbohydrate restricted diets.
How To Cook Beefsteak Mushrooms
Beefsteak mushrooms have been an alternative to meat long before we even knew about the benefits of consuming less meat. They must be eaten young, though, and they need to be cooked well because they can be tough. Beefsteak mushrooms are in their most edible state when they’re really young and fresh because they’re as tender as they can get. They get tougher as they get older, so if you have older mushrooms you will have to cook them really well to tenderize them.
Even though these mushrooms look very similar to meat, especially when you slice them, they don’t taste like meat at all. Their flavor is very complex; they’re acidic (lemony) and a little bit bitter. However, the texture does resemble meat because they’re chewy and bouncy especially when mature.
A little salt can go a long way when preparing the mushrooms, but they can also be marinated, brined, seared, roasted, fried, and everything in between. Slicing them very thinly makes it easier to cook them.
Beefsteak Mushroom and Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe
Beefsteak mushrooms are fascinating, and you can have a lot of fun with them in the kitchen. You just need to be open to experimentation. To help you get started, here’s an easy recipe for Beefsteak mushroom salad. It’s a great introduction to the unique flavor of the mushroom and it will make a great appetizer for a lovely meal.
- Half a pound of heirloom tomatoes. Or more, if you want!
- 1 ounce of fresh arugula, as needed.
- A handful of toasted, ½ inch (0.5 cm) croutons.
- 2 ounces of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in bite sized pieces.
- Extra virgin olive oil, to taste.
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste.
- 2 ounces fresh Beefsteak mushrooms.
- Take a paring knife and remove the cores from the tomatoes.
- Slice them or cut them however you prefer.
- Then take the Beefsteak mushrooms, remove the pores, clean the flesh, and slice them into ¼ inch pieces.
- Arrange the plate with the tomatoes and the mushroom slices.
- Season everything with salt, ground pepper, and olive oil to taste.
- Top the salad with cheese, croutons, and arugula.
- Serve right away!
This recipe makes for a great appetizer, it will open up everyone’s palate and it will taste so different! Everyone will love it. Once you feel more comfortable with these mushrooms, you can include them in many other dishes and have some fun.
Here’s one more recipe making use of olive oil and herbs:-
Beefsteak Mushroom and Spring Onion Recipe
- 2 large beefsteak mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 3 small white button mushrooms sliced
- 1 small spring onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Heat the olive oil in the pan and saute the onions and garlic until fragrant
- Add the mushrooms and saute on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until all the liquids have been absorbed.
- Season with the fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
Beefsteak mushrooms are fascinating and if you’re looking to try something different, they’re the perfect option. They look incredible, and they taste like nothing else. If you are a vegan give them a try because of their high protein and nutrient content.
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