Mushrooms are one of the world’s greatest natural bounties. They grow naturally across the world.
They are the fruits of fungus that live right underground, and they can vary massively from mushroom to mushroom. There are countless species of mushrooms, some of which only grow in certain countries or territories across the world.
The greatest thing about mushrooms is that many of them are perfectly safe to eat, and have been used to create amazing and timeless dishes in numerous cultures.
But not all mushrooms are safe to eat, and many can be extremely poisonous and lethal. Thus, it is important to exercise caution whenever you are consuming mushrooms.
However, one of the biggest prevailing concerns surrounding mushrooms is whether you can safely eat them raw. Are they poisonous before they are cooked?
If so, does it only apply to some mushrooms or all mushrooms? And are there any mushrooms you should make a point of never eating?
These are just a few of the crazy questions that you might find swimming around your mind when it comes to mushrooms, but are there any answers to them? Yes! And we’re here to give them to you!
Can You Eat Mushrooms Raw?
Provided you are consuming edible mushrooms that are safe for human consumption, such as ones you would buy at the grocery store, then, yes, it is perfectly safe to eat raw mushrooms.
However, you should be aware of the fact that mushrooms have an entirely different texture when they are raw. Unlike cooked mushrooms, which often have a slight chewiness but ultimately a melt-in-the-mouth softness, raw mushrooms are a little more hard and crumbly when bitten into.
For some, this can be very pleasant, but you may find it altogether unsatisfying, and maybe even outright disgusting!
As a general rule, just remember that if you can eat the mushroom cooked, then it is okay to eat it raw, it just may not taste quite as nice!
Are Mushrooms Healthier Raw Or Cooked?
For the most part, mushrooms are actually much better for you once they are cooked. This is because the cells that makeup mushrooms have a tendency to be quite tough and difficult to break (hence the crumbliness of raw mushrooms).
When you cook a mushroom, you begin to slowly weaken those cell walls, which helps to release the nutrients that were previously trapped by the tough cell walls. This allows your body to more easily access the nutrients in the mushroom and then absorb them to put them to use.
The only time that eating raw mushrooms could be considered ‘unhealthy’ is when they reach a certain age.
Say you had a punnet of mushrooms that you kept at room temperature for 3 days, those same mushrooms will likely now be playing host to many forms of bacteria, thus cooking the mushrooms would be vital to ensure that you do not end up with food poisoning.
Luckily, killing off bacteria with heat is very easy, and only takes a little bit of time.
However, mushrooms are still perfectly healthy when raw. The cooking process, though it releases vital nutrients, can also destroy the nutrients if the mushroom is cooked for too long.
Thus, realistically, the two have very similar nutritional benefits.
Are Mushrooms Healthy?
In general, all mushrooms that can be safely consumed by humans are very healthy. They are packed with vital proteins but don’t have loads of calories to ruin it all!
They also help to promote proper gut health, so that you can more easily digest food, and they also help to lower cholesterol, which significantly decreases your chances of a heart attack.
What Mushrooms Are Unsafe To Eat?
Hunting for wild mushrooms can be a great way to get your hands on some delicious and naturally grown mushrooms, however, you must be careful to ensure that you are not partaking in mushrooms that are poisonous.
There are a few famous varieties of mushrooms that you should always avoid eating. The first is the Death cap. This mushroom could not have a more appropriate name, as it is easily the most poisonous variety.
Many mushroom-related deaths around the world are a result of consuming death caps. You should also be wary of the fact that death caps grow all throughout the world.
Conocybe Filaris is another highly poisonous mushroom that grows throughout many continents, including Asia, Europe, and North America.
They are just as lethal as the death cap mushroom, and they can usually be identified by looking for their signature cone-shaped caps that have an intense brown color.
You should also avoid the Autumn Skullcap, which grows on rotting wood, and is instantly fatal if consumed. They are amongst the most poisonous in the world and can be identified by their tiny brown caps.
How Do You Identify A Poisonous Mushroom?
The best way to avoid poisonous mushrooms is to leave the act of picking them to a professional who can quickly identify them. You should aim to only buy mushrooms that you find at your local grocery store.
If you do go hunting for wild mushrooms to eat, then you must make sure to look out for their iconic smell.
Unsafe and poisonous mushrooms will smell off and will likely have a slight sharpness to their scent. This should warn you that that particular mushroom is poisonous and not safe for consumption.
You should also be wary of the color red. If there is a red patch on the cap of the mushroom, or if the entire cap is red-colored, then it is highly likely that it will be poisonous.
You should avoid mushrooms with white gills, these gills are responsible for creating spores that can be poisonous when consumed.
In general, you should simply avoid any mushroom you do not recognize or are unsure of. It is much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to mushrooms, as poisonous mushrooms can often be mistaken for safe mushrooms.
To conclude, we can say that, in general, it is definitely safe to eat mushrooms raw. This is definitely the case for common button mushrooms.
If a mushroom can safely be eaten once it has been cooked, then it will be safe to eat when it is still raw.
Though it isn’t advised to pick your own mushrooms for consumption, you should make sure to check that all mushrooms you do pick are not poisonous, and do not contain any of the common elements found on poisonous mushrooms.
Such mushrooms cannot be eaten raw or cooked.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Unwashed Mushrooms Make You Sick?
If you do not wash your mushrooms before you cook them or consume them, then you should still be totally fine. Most store-bought mushrooms are already cleaned for you.
If you were to eat mushrooms that still had soil on them, don’t worry, it is not poisonous, you just might find that your mushrooms are a little more gritty, thanks to the soil.
Is It OK To Eat Raw White Mushrooms?
Yes. It is perfectly safe to eat mushrooms while they are still raw, thus it is also safe to eat raw mushrooms as part of a salad or another dish.
Can You Eat Shiitake Mushrooms Raw?
Yes. It is safe to eat shiitake mushrooms while they are still raw. However, the experience of eating the mushrooms will not be quite as pleasant, as shiitake mushrooms have a characteristically meaty flavor that is more pronounced after cooking.