In July we featured FungiCo mushroom kits supplied in Canberra. A doctor, new to gardening, whose expertise is biomaterials, read the article and sent me a link to new research data from Pennsylvania State University.
Dr Robert Beelman, emeritus professor of food science and director of Penn State Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for health, said researchers found that mushrooms have high amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione, both important antioxidants that may help with anti-aging treatments. The compounds varied greatly between mushroom species and porcini species (Boletus edulis) had the highest. Even button mushrooms had higher amounts than most other foods. Countries like France and Italy which have more of the compounds in their diets, have lower incidences of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
As porcini mushrooms are seldom found in Australia, I emailed Dr Beelman and asked if reconstituted dried porcini would have the same benefits as fresh. He replied, "The answer is yes. The Porcini samples we analysed were dried product we purchased at a local grocery store."
Regarding porcini in FungiCo kits, Peter Wenzel said, "Porcini are mycorrhizal species, meaning they need to be attached to the root system of a living tree/forest (not possible to grow in a kit as such). We are investigating research into trial cultivation plots to grow these mushrooms - a long term endeavour requiring several years. Porcini were confirmed as being present in the 'wild' around Adelaide earlier this year (previously, there were only anecdotal reports)."
Essential Ingredient in Kingston sells porcini powder in 50g packets and dried Porcini slices in 20g packets. These were sourced from several European countries including the Czech Republic and Poland. Harris Farm shops sell packets of sliced or sliced Porcini mushrooms which are a product of Serbia (online deliveries to Canberra on Sunday evenings).
SupaBarn sells Chef's Choice Dried Porcini in 20g plastic boxes. Artin Ohandjanian, the purchasing manager in Sydney, said, "the porcini is collected from all over Europe and Asia then dried and cured in Italy or France. So the actual mushroom might have been picked from China or Romania. It is really an age of global market without boundaries."
Stringless bikini beans and book giveaways
More than 45 readers responded to our offer of Sex Without Strings bean seeds in 2014 which resulted in Team Bean growers recording date of planting, germination, fertilisers used, disasters, and dates of first beans for harvesting. Its popularity may have been due to the (true) name of the bean variety. It is now time to sow seeds of bush beans and we have seeds of Yates dwarf stringless snapbeans to share (I added the bikini!). They are prolific croppers and can be grown in small spaces and 30cm pots. To receive some seeds, send your name and address and where you will plant the seeds to: email@example.com
On TV, 'Fast Ed' Halmagyi brings his dimpled smile and easy way with food. In The Everyday Kitchen (Simon & Schuster Australia $39.95) Ed says,"Get in. Get out. Get fed. BAM!". His recipes include mushrooms and beans among 52 meals for every week of the year. To win a copy of the book, tell me your favourite bean or mushroom dish with your name and address to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hunting and eating
Hunting for wild mushrooms was Antonio Carluccio's passion, and porcini or 'little pig' the most sought after fungi. He says the 'king' of mushrooms, porcini, dries very well. If you grow your own beans, and the hunt is on at home for the first crop, we share a simple Neapolitan recipe from Antonio Carluccio's Vegetables (2000) which his family ate often, with bread as a first course.
Following mention of Yates Nature's Way Citrus Spray by Jost Steller (Kitchen Garden 14 November) a group of expert Canberra growers shared an exchange of ideas started by Dr Mark O'Connor. Keith Colls said he has tried the spray and it works well provided you spray underneath the bug rather than on its back. Orchardist Dr Jonathan Banks said he keeps a jar, capped, by the infestable plants for the occasional visit. Hold the open metho jar under the stink bug (also for Cape Gooseberry beetles). They drop off the plant and die in a humane alcoholic stupor.
Fagiolini al Pomodoro
1kg green beans, topped and tailed
4 new potatoes, scraped and quartered
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
100ml olive oil
800g tomato pulp
6 basil leaves, shredded
salt to taste
Cook the potatoes and the beans separately in plenty of salted water until tender. Fry the garlic in the oil for a few minutes, then before it starts to colour, add the tomato pulp, basil and some salt.
Cook for 10 minutes. Drain the beans and potatoes and add to the tomato. Stir, leave for five minutes to allow the flavours to blend, then serve.
Susan Parsons is a Canberra writer.