Cooking mushrooms before eating them is generally recommended for health and safety reasons. Here are a few reasons why:
Digestibility: Raw mushrooms can be difficult for some people to digest because they contain chitin, a tough, fibrous substance that is also found in the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans. Cooking mushrooms breaks down the chitin, making them easier to digest and allowing your body to absorb more of their nutrients.
Nutrient availability: Cooking mushrooms can increase the availability of certain nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. For example, the heat from cooking can help break down the cell walls of mushrooms, which can increase the bioavailability of the antioxidant ergothioneine.
Elimination of toxins: Certain types of mushrooms contain toxins that can cause gastrointestinal distress or even be lethal. Cooking mushrooms can help break down and eliminate these toxins, making them safer to eat.
Reducing microbial contamination: Raw mushrooms may contain harmful bacteria or other pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. Cooking mushrooms can help eliminate these pathogens and reduce the risk of illness.
It’s important to note that while cooking mushrooms can have health benefits, it’s also important to cook them properly and avoid overcooking, as this can destroy some of their nutritional content.
My favored way to prepare Lion’s mane mushrooms is to slice them the thickness of a burger patty and then pan fry the slices in a bit of butter until golden. Perfect with a squeeze of lemon.