Mushrooms, also called toadstools, are members of the fungi family. Unlike plants, mushrooms do not need sunlight to grow, and are thus often found in shady locations. As of 2015, China was the world's single largest producer of cultivated, edible mushrooms.
Although most mushrooms are composed of about 90 percent water, they are also replete with essential nutrients. Such nutrients include copper, magnesium, thiamine and vitamin B. Additionally, a single Portabello mushroom commonly contains more potassium than a banana. Because of its nutritive capacity, the mushroom is a staple ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Some ancient Egyptians also believed that mushrooms were magical due to their incredibly rapid growth rate.
In addition to their nutritional value, mushrooms are also low in a number of negative dietary influences, such as fat, cholesterol and sodium. To properly store mushrooms, place them in a standard brown paper bag on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. A cloth bag or clean tea towel works equally well. Avoid washing the mushrooms unless necessary. Mushrooms are valued in the culinary world for their extensive applicability, as in preparations including stews, sautés, casseroles, soups and sauces. They are also served raw or stuffed in many appetizers.
It is extremely dangerous to harvest and consume wild mushrooms without extensive expertise, as many are poisonous and even deadly.