Can you eat mushroom gills?

In this brief, we will answer the question “Can you eat mushroom gills?”. We will also elaborate on some edible mushroom gills, the benefits that we can enjoy from eating mushroom gills, and some ways to remove the gills from mushrooms.

Can you eat mushroom gills?

Yes, you can eat the gills of mushrooms. Such as the gills of Portobello mushrooms are edible, they do not need to be removed. 

In a study, antioxidant parameters of extracts from whole fruiting bodies and different morphological tissues (peel, inner cap, gills and stipes) of eight popular edible mushrooms were determined and compared. The results suggest that fungal fruiting bodies have characteristic antioxidant potential and the responsible molecules including phenolics are concentrated mainly in the peel and gills. The average of phenolic compounds was highest in peels (2.14 ± 1.3 mg/g dry mass) and in gills (2.36 ± 1.4 mg/g dry mass) (1).

But sometimes most consumers make it necessary to remove the gills. So, it is up to you if you want to have the mushrooms with the gills or without them. 

What is the mushroom gill?

Mushroom gill also called a lamella, or rib is made up of papery hymenophores that are present beneath the lid of some mushroom species. 

The main function of the mushroom gill is to spread its spores for new germinations. the formation of lamellae greatly increases the surface area for spore production beneath a single mushroom cap. In one classic experiment, gills were removed from a variety of mushroom species by painstaking dissection and their surface area were measured. It was found that relative to a flat surface, the formation of gills increased the hymenium surface by a factor of 7.0 (lowest) in and 20.0 (highest) (2). 

How to differentiate between poisonous and edible mushrooms? 

It is not so easy to differentiate the edible or poisonous mushrooms by their appearance. Some of the rules which are used to identify the safe, edible mushrooms are described below (3):

  • Do not give a try to eating those mushrooms which have white gills, ring or a skirt, a bulbous, or it should not have a base which seems sac-like also termed as Volva. These indications will not let you eat some safe, edible mushroom but on the other end, it will keep you safe from a poisonous one.
  • Those mushrooms which have red gills and are red on the stem or cap should be avoided when eating. 
  • Do not try any mushrooms unless or until you are sure about their safety level or what these mushrooms are, this is one of the most important rules in health safety. Collect and consume only those mushrooms that have been positively identified as edible, and know all of the similar but poisonous look-alikes. This greatly minimizes risk of poisoning.
  • As every mushroom is different from the other one. So, we could not apply the same rules for every kind of mushroom. When experimenting with a new mushroom, eat only a little in case of adverse reaction. Wait a few days before eating more. Research the preparation and safety of each mushroom species, as well as food and drug interactions.
  • Some mushrooms which are found in the UK are easy to recognize for safe consumption like the Giant puffball, Porcelain fungus.
  • By knowing the family of mushrooms, we can also identify the safe mushrooms for consumption. The same mushroom species can look different at different life stages or when growing in different sites. Thus, it is important to identify each mushroom each time any are collected.

How to identify the safe varieties of mushrooms?

A reliable method to distinguish the safe varieties of mushrooms is by determining the family of the mushroom.

Agaricus

To this family of mushrooms belong white button mushroom, shiitake and portobello, which are the most cultivated and consumed mushrooms in the world (4). The mushrooms which are consumable from the Agaricus family have pink to black or brown coloured gills, with a white-coloured cap, and have a stout-like stem attached with a skirt. 

After you have confirmed that you have this mushroom, separate the cap. If it has a bright chrome yellow color, it is likely to be toxic. If it has a pale yellow, pink or red color it is likely to be edible. 

Boletes 

The Suillus, Boletes, and Lencinum families are not more challenging to recognize because they do not possess gills but have pores that resemble sponges with stout stems. The genus Boletus is cosmopolitan, widely found in temperate zones such as the northern and southern hemispheres, inhabiting tropical and middle latitude forests. Unlike most other mushrooms, Boletus edulis can be stored dry and cooked at high temperatures, without a significant loss of its distinctive flavor. The flavor of this dried mushroom including odor and taste is marvelous, nutty, earthy, and meaty all at once; for this reason it has the great demand within the international gastronomy (4).

Milk caps

Milk caps mushrooms belong to the Lactarius family. This milkcap name is given due to the extraction of milk-like material from the gills on slicing or touching the mushroom, so they are easy to recognize. It is available in the market as a vegetarian substitute of protein source (4).

Amanitas

The mushrooms of the Amanitas family have white-coloured gills and also possess spores. The member of this family mostly grows from a bulbous structure or from a sac-like organelle that could hide beneath the surface of the soil or can also wrap itself in the leaf litter.

Due to this, it is recommended to recognize the base while testing if the mushroom is edible or not.

The Amanita caesarea is an edible species known as Caesar’s mushroom. It grows solitary and sometimes in groups in deciduous forests. It has been reported to grow in temperate and tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Central and North America, but not in South America. It has a distinctive orange cap, yellow gills, and stem (4).

How can you remove the gills from mushrooms?

Sometimes, if we cook the mushrooms with their gills, the dish turns out to be darker, which makes it look unappealing. So, it is better to remove them from the mushrooms, such as the Portobello mushroom that has a dark gill that could be removed. 

Take a paring knife to barber the stem of the mushroom, then use the edges of a spoon to scrape out the gills.

The health benefits of mushrooms

Rich in nutrients

Mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms are highly rich in nutrients that could be minerals, fiber, folate, vitamins, and carbohydrates. Edible mushrooms are a good option for those who like to eat a low-carb diet that could follow them in their weight loss journey. Many studies reveal that mushrooms could act as an adjuvant in promoting health benefits. Since the nutrition profile of mushrooms is very rich, they can be used as a source of prebiotics and can initiate the growth and regulation of human gut microbiota. These gut microbiota are known as probiotics which in return cause many health benefits (4).

Rich in antioxidants

Some mushrooms also provide a rich amount of antioxidants that could aid in fulfilling the cellular damage of the body. Ergothioneine is a powerful antioxidant compound, it is also an amino acid that helps differently in body functioning.

Seven phenolic components are recognized in the mushrooms that act as an antioxidant in the body. These compounds are responsible for enhancing the immune system functioning of an individual. Because of the presence of such components, mushrooms are good at exhibiting antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties (4).

Other FAQs about Mushrooms that you may be interested in.

Can you freeze cooked mushrooms?

How to preserve mushrooms

Can you eat elephant ear mushrooms?

How long are mushrooms good for?

Conclusion 

In this brief, we have provided an answer to the question “Can you eat mushroom gills?”. We have also elaborated on some edible mushroom gills, the benefits that we can enjoy from eating mushroom gills, and some ways to remove the gills from mushrooms.

References

  1. Krüzselyi, Dániel, Ágnes M. Móricz, and János Vetter. Comparison of different morphological mushroom parts based on the antioxidant activity. LWT, 2020, 127, 109436.
  2. Fischer, Mark WF, and Nicholas P. Money. Why mushrooms form gills: efficiency of the lamellate morphology. Fung Biol, 2010, 114, 57-63.
  3. Crocker, E & Gauthier, N.W. Don’t Eat Those Wild Mushrooms …unless you know what you are doing! Plant Pathology & Forestry Fact Sheet. 2016. University of Kentucky.
  4. Díaz-Godínez, Gerardo, and Maura Téllez-Téllez. Mushrooms as Edible Foods. Fungi in Sustainable Food Production. Springer, Cham, 2021. 143-164.