Mushrooms can play a significant role in the federal school lunch program as new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines take effect requiring half the plate to consist of fruits and vegetables, said Fred Recchiuti, general manager of Basciani Mushroom Farms, Avondale, Pa.
When it was discovered that kids don’t always eat all their fruits and vegetables, a “stealth mix” turned out to be one solution.
That’s where mushrooms are substituted for 20% or more of the ground beef in items like tacos, meatballs or sloppy joes.
“It doesn’t change the taste of it,” Recchiuti said, but it gives kids the advantage of getting an extra helping of vegetables while reducing the fat content of the meat.
To-Jo Mushrooms, Avondale, Pa., showed off some of its prepared products at the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago in May, said Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
He singled out the firm’s Simply Saute Prepared Mushrooms, which the company touts as a “perfect stand-alone side dish or ingredient to create and enhance a wide range of customer favorites.”
Prepared products virtually eliminate in-use cooking shrink at store level and offer extended shelf life, reduced labor, improved consistency and superior quality, Frederic said.
An exciting fact about mushrooms and foodservice, Engel said, is that, unlike most vegetables that are familiar to most people, new mushroom varieties still are being discovered.