Don’t be in the dark about mushrooms. Or Mushroom foraging.

So on Saturday I channelled my Mother’s childhood and went mushrooming. With strong skinny lattes in hand, Sarah & I made the trek two hours north of Melbourne to donne the gumboots and test our luck at mushrooming.

We met Emma Stirling, her equally-social-media savvy daughter Lucy and her mum. This was a little special. Em’s mum grew up in the same small country town as my grandmother, and her sister, who happened to teach me textiles in year seven and eight, was best friends with my Grandmother. It gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling.


We were also joined by some faces from Instagram, some neighbours, some friends, and ofcourse the experts in the field – Jim Fuller and his team. They taught us all we need to know about picking, eating, storing and cooking mushrooms.

For a lovely recall of our afternoon of foraging, pop over to Sarah’s beautiful blog. Must I say, I do appreciate the vibrancy of my hair and the children’s gumboots I picked up at Kmart in preparation.



So why after travelling all week for work, would I want to travel more to spend the afternoon foraging mushrooms?

∼ It’s a novelty way to spend time with your friends. I really appreciated the two-hour trip up, and the two-hour trip back with Sarah. We talked serious life chats, we talked food (naturally) and we talked jibberish. ‘Friends who porridge, friends who forage’, and ‘I’m slice of sarah, not sarah who slices’ was also thrown around.


∼ It involves food

∼  You almost become a child again. Coming across Super Mario Toadstalls was pretty exciting and may potentially be the reason I collected no edible mushrooms in round one of picking. Maybe.


∼  You get to taste food


∼  It’s incidental exercise. Plus when you nearly fall flat on your face because you didn’t see the kangaroo sleeping on the ground, it gets your heart rate up too.

∼ Food puns are appreciated.

∼  It results in food.


And mushrooms are a great food.

I cringe at what I’m going to say next but they are nature’s superfood. Power of Mushrooms does a wonderful explanation of the term ‘superfood’, acknowledging there is no formal definition, and highlighting two important points: they should be easily available and affordable, and they should be easy to consume in amounts that provide a benefit.

Mushrooms can be consumed at every meal – with smashed avocado on capeseed loaf, in a salad or burger for lunch, and mixed through pasta, rissoles or in a delicious chicken, leek & mushroom pie or risotto for dinner. They can be a side, a sauce and I even like to eat button mushrooms raw.

What is really exciting about Mushrooms is that they naturally have Vitamin D.

Generally, our best source of vitamin D is the sun. ‘What sun?’ I hear you ask – don’t worry, I am feeling you there. The Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is necessary for converting the precursor for Vitamin D in the skin into its active form. And the active form of Vitamin D is the hormone that controls the calcium in the blood. It enhances the absorption of calcium, and therefore is essential for development of bones, teeth and muscle, and preventing osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, living this far south of the equator means that in winter many of us do not have adequate levels of Vitamin D. In fact, we need to be spending about 7-40 minutes outside around noon, most days,  to ensure we are getting adequate Vitamin D.

But when it comes to food, we don’t get a whole lot of vitamin D from foods either. In fact, food is responsible for about 10% of most peoples Vitamin D. (Nowson, 2012)

But there is mush room for improvement in the food stakes.

Aside from the flesh of oily fish, liver, cheese and egg yolks, mushrooms are rising out of the pine needles and reaching for the sun.

When mushrooms are exposed to sunlight (or the UV light in sunlight), they naturally generate Vitamin D. Research has shown that farmers can give their mushrooms 1-2 seconds of a pulsed UV light source and this will stimulate mushrooms to naturally produce enough Vitamin D for the daily needs of adults. (Koyyalamudi et al, 2009)

So how much do we need to eat?


Three button mushrooms.

Or just one flat mushroom.

Now, that is easier and tastier than those Vitamin D supplements you try and remember to take.

Additional fungi facts:

∼  Mushrooms live in their own biological kingdom. Which means that it is not a plant, so the nutrition profile is different to that of fruit and vegetables.

∼ The savoury flavour of mushrooms is due to the natural glutamates, and there is no need for the salt shaker.

∼ In terms of cooking, there is at least 85% retention of Vitamin D in wild mushrooms after frying for five minutes (Mattila 1999)

∼  A serve of mushrooms provides over 20% of the RDI for each of the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and the minerals selenium ad copper.

∼ Mushrooms have bio-available vitamin B12 on the surface and in the flesh – so don’t peel them! Just wipe the tops on kitchen paper.

∼ They are super low in kilojoules, and research reveals that they are filling and dampen the appetite at subsequent meals.

∼  Eating mushrooms has been linked to lowering the risk of some cancers. Three population studies have show the women who eat an average of one button mushroom a day have half the risk of breast cancer than women who do not eat mushrooms. Australian research suggests that women eating 100g mushroom or more daily have a 50-65% lower risk of breast cancer compared to those women who don’t eat mushrooms. There are unique compounds in mushrooms that may protect us from breast and prostate cancer. (Chen 2006; Martin 2010; Shin 2010; Hong 2008)

For more information on the types, nutrition facts, so many yum recipes and other goodness, pop over to

I’m now off to the supermarket to forage some button mushrooms.

I’m thinking chicken and mushroom pie.


It’s been fun guys.

Emma xo

The science stuff. 

Chen S, Oh S-R, Phung S, Hur G, Ye JJ, Kwok SL, Shrode GE, Belury M, Adams SL, Williams D. Anti-aromatase activity of phytochemicals in white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Cancer Research 2006; 66 (24): 12026-12034

Hong SA, Kim K, Nam SJ, Kong G, Kim MK. A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. International Journal of Cancer 2008; 122: 919-923

Koyyalamudi SR, Jeong SC, Song CH, Cho KY, Pang G. Vitamin D2 formation and bioavailability from Agaricus bisporus button mushrooms treated with ultraviolet irradiation. J Agricultural & Food Chemistry 2009; 57: 3351-3355

Martin KR, Brophy SK. Commonly consumed and specialty dietary mushrooms reduce cellular proliferation in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Experimental Biology & Medicine 2010; 235: 1306-1314

Mattila P, Ronkainen R, Lehikoinen K, Piironen V. Effect of household cooking on the Vitamin D content in fish, eggs, and wild mushrooms. J of Food Composition and Analysis 1999; 12: 153-160

Nowson CA, McGrath JJ, Ebeling PR, Haikerwal A, Daly RM, Sanders KM, Seibel MJ, Mason RS. Vitamin D and health in adults in Australia and New Zealand: a position statement. Medical Journal of Australia 2012; 196 (11): doi:10.5694/mja11.10301

Shin A, Kim J, Lim SY, Kim G, Sung MK, Lee ES, Ro J. Dietary mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer based on hormone receptor status. Nutrition & Cancer 2010; 62 (4): 476-483


4 thoughts on “Don’t be in the dark about mushrooms. Or Mushroom foraging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s