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Milky mushrooms are medium to large in size with rounded caps averaging 10-14 centimeters in diameter that connect to an elongated, thick stem. The smooth, firm caps are convex when young, flattening out with age, and remain pure white through maturity. Underneath the cap, there are many white, crowded gills, and the white stem averages ten centimeters in height and has a dense, meaty consistency. Milky mushrooms are often found with multiple stems growing from a single base and do not lose their namesake color or discolor with age or handling. When cooked, Milky mushrooms are tender and chewy with a mild, oily flavor and an aroma similar to radishes.
Wild Milky mushrooms are available in the late spring through summer, while the cultivated versions are available year-round.
Milky mushrooms, botanically classified as Calocybe indica, are the only mushroom species both native to and cultivated in the hot, humid climate of India. Also known as Dhuth chatta and Swetha mushrooms, Milky mushrooms were named for their milky white color, and their name comes from the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit where the word for white is “Sweth” or “Swetha” meaning “pure.” Milky mushrooms can still be found growing wild along roadsides and in fields and are favored for their nutrient-rich properties, long shelf life, and versatility in culinary applications.
Milky mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamins B2, E, and A, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium, and also contain calcium, vitamin C, iron, and zinc.
Milky mushrooms are best suited for cooked applications such as sautéing, steaming, grilling, and boiling. The thick, meaty texture of the mushroom is suitable for curries, soups, and stews, and they can be used in place of portobello mushrooms for grilled vegetable sandwiches and burgers. They can also be used in egg dishes such as omelets, on top of a pizza, or mixed into pasta, and they are popularly added to Filipino dishes such as pancit, lumpia, adobo, tinola, dinuguan, and sisig. Milky mushrooms pair well with meats such as pork, poultry, beef, and fish, shrimp, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, bok choy, green beans, calamansi, papaya, malunggay leaves, cumin, coriander, curry powder, turmeric, garlic, onion, ginger, rice, and noodles. They have a long shelf life and can be kept at room temperature up to a week before they require refrigeration. When refrigerated, they will keep for an additional five days.
Before commercial cultivation began of Milky mushrooms, people in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal would collect the mushroom from the wild to sell at local markets. Milky mushrooms are a unique variety because most mushrooms cannot thrive in the extreme heat of the Indian climate. Milky mushrooms only grow in regions where the temperature is between 75 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 35°C) and where the humidity is also high. They also require far less water than most other cultivated mushrooms. Milky mushrooms provide ample amounts of nutrients and are a source of income for the Indian markets. Many locals take great pride in these mushrooms as they are the first cultivated and commercially available mushroom from India.
Milky mushrooms are native to northeastern India and were initially only found in the wild. Some evidence of early cultivation in West Bengal in the 1970s has been found, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the mushroom was rediscovered by Dr. Akkanna Subbiah Krishnamoorthy of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and was commercially cultivated. Today Milky mushrooms are predominately found in local markets in India, but they can also be found in tropical regions of China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Recipes that include Milky Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Hungry Chef||Lengua in Milky Mushroom Cream Sauce|
|Food Vedam||Mushroom Pickle|