What Is Mushroom Toxicity? 5 Tips To Consume Mushrooms Safely

Mushrooms are a popular food item across the globe. Loaded with various nutrients like protein, fibre, antioxidants, and calcium, these fungi are often considered a substitute for meat that is popularly enjoyed by vegetarians. Along with an amazing nutrition profile, they are also delicious in taste and packed with umami.

Mushrooms are used in a variety of dishes like soups, sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. In India, this healthy food is also enjoyed as curry, stir-fried, Manchurian, and biryani. But are all edible mushrooms safe to eat? Despite all their goodness, it is very important to distinguish between toxic and non-toxic mushrooms. 

What Is Mushroom Toxicity?

Mushrooms are mainly classified into two categories: edible and non-edible. But do you know that sometimes those edible mushrooms can also contain toxins if not handled properly? According to a report by Sage Journal, if edible mushrooms are not harvested or processed correctly, they turn out to be poisonous. From collection to storage, each step is crucial to keeping the mushrooms poison-free.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, some common symptoms of mushroom poisoning are nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, and heart palpitations. These symptoms can be visible right after eating the poisonous mushroom or may take between two and six hours.

Here are five tips to identify and eat mushrooms safely:

Always Go For Trusted Sources

Not all mushrooms are edible. Some are toxic and may cause emergency situations that may require you to dash to the hospital too. Mushrooms may be growing in your backyard too, but refrain from consuming them if you are not sure that they are edible. There are many varieties of mushrooms, and most of them are easily available on the market, but it is advisable to purchase them only from trusted sources. Never pick them up from a non-trusted source, as they may not have strictly followed the safety measures.

The Source Of Mushrooms

If you like picking mushrooms yourself, be very careful. Make sure to check the source, i.e., the tree on which they grow. It's better to take the help of a local person or any expert to identify the quality and type of the mushroom. According to the National Institutes of Health, the type of tree on which they grow greatly affects the chemical composition of the mushrooms. 

Avoid Prolonged Storage

Even though you have purchased mushrooms from trusted sources and they are of top quality, do not store them for too long. Unlike other vegetables, they don’t stay fresh for an extended period. Follow all the storage guidelines and use them before the expiration date. According to a report by ResearchGate, the shelf life of freshly harvested mushrooms is up to three days. 

Clean The Mushrooms Properly 

This is another very important tip that you must follow. Make sure to clean the mushrooms properly before cooking. There are many harmful bacteria present on its skin that need to be cleaned. Apart from washing them in running water, you can also scrub each of the mushrooms with some salt to get rid of extra dirt and toxins. 

Cook Thoroughly

Unlike other vegetables, mushrooms cannot be consumed raw. It is important to cook them properly to get rid of all the leftover germs and toxins. Always cook on a medium-high flame and use a good amount of oil to get the perfect texture and taste. Cooking on a low flame or with less oil will make the mushrooms rubbery.