After what seems like an interminable amount of time languishing on the sidelines, it appears the button mushroom is returning to take its rightful place as one of the all-time great mushrooms.
Of course, it may be the season for morels, those elusive Gothic church-like things, so beloved of the French, but where are they when you need them? Especially now. Most of the morels sold in Ireland originate in France and now, more than ever before, Irish mushroom growers need support.
Of course there are plenty of “exotic” mushroom growers in Ireland. Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Garryhinch Wood Exotic Mushrooms are two such growers you could check out. When I say exotic, I mean every single mushroom that is not a button mushroom.
While I understand that enoki and shiitake mushrooms do originally hail from east Asia (hence their "exotic" character), to lump all mushrooms into the exotic box is a failure of imagination. Oyster, hedgehog, black trumpet, hen of the woods, and even morels, can all be found wild in Ireland, if you're lucky. Yet, I've often seem them dumped in with the exotic selection. Perhaps we should start to pay a little more attention to our native mushrooms.
As wild mushrooms are still a few months away, it's the common button mushroom I want to pay homage to today. The variety of white mushroom that we all know originated in 1925 on a farm in Pennsylvania. Louis Ferdinand Lambert, the farm's owner, who was also a mycologist, developed the mushroom. It is now grown in more than 70 countries worldwide.
How to cook mushrooms with cider and hazelnuts
This recipe can be made with any mushrooms, or a mixture of mushrooms. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add 200g of sliced mushrooms. Season with sea salt and fry until they soften. Add 125ml of cider and bring to the boil. After a minute, add 50g of crushed, roasted hazelnuts and a handful of chopped parsley. Serve on some nicely toasted sourdough.