As promised, Organic Authority’s Cooking School is now in session! This week, I’ll focus on seasonal organic foods, shopping shortcuts and basic preparation techniques so even inexperienced cooks can whip up an organic gourmet meal. Each day, I’ll cover a specific component of our recipe for a unique Latin tomato and mushroom soup, with the complete recipe posting on Friday. You can shop for organic ingredients during the week and put on your chef’s hat this weekend.
Today’s topic is shopping for organic mushrooms. Our recipe calls for huitlacoche mushrooms—a black Mexican variety that is sometimes referred to as “corn smut.” Mushroom expert Amy Farges, author of The Mushroom Lover’s Mushroom Cookbook and Primer (click here for review), describes this species as “nature’s gift to cooks.” In Mexico, she notes, these mushrooms are often spread on tortillas or rolled inside tamales. As Farges acknowledges, huitlacoches can be hard to find in the United States, so most cooks substitute the canned variety, which can be found at ethnic markets or Mexican grocers. Unfortunately, they’re seldom organic.
So, what should you do when you can’t find an organic ingredient? Substitute! Our recipe suggests replacing them with organic portobello mushrooms.
Portobellos can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, according to Farges. You can also freeze them for up to one year. To avoid freezer burn, clean each mushroom with a dry mushroom brush; don’t use any water. Place individual portobellos on a baking sheet so they don’t touch. When they’re solidly frozen, remove them from the sheet and place them in freezer bags. You can then use them as needed, roasting them in a 350°F oven for about 45 minutes.