Magic of mushrooms taken to townshipsAugust 11th, 2011 by Susan Reynard | Categories: food, hotels, industry, people, products, restaurants, training
The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association’s (SAMFA) annual celebration of mushrooms is taking place for the sixth time in and around Soweto from 28 to 30 October. It is designed to be educational and entertaining, engaging the community and furthering a better understanding of the nutritional and taste elements of mushrooms.
This has proven a successful venture for both the association and its partners, which include the Soweto Tourism Association and Pick ‘n Pay. Mushrooms are growing in popularity and that is thanks to education.
SAMFA hosted the first ever Soweto Mushroom Festival (SMF) in 2006 and the event has grown every year. During the past six years Sowetans and mushroom fans from around Gauteng have enjoyed the flavour and fun of this foodie festival by visiting some of Soweto’s participating restaurants, pubs and B&B establishments.
Two interactive cooking workshops for participating B&Bs and restaurants will take place at The Soweto Hotel prior to the start of the festival, to demonstrate the versatility of mushrooms. Chefs from CAASA (Culinary Arts Association of South Africa) will try out new recipes and share useful hints and tips on running a successful commercial kitchen.
The main objective of the SMF is to create greater awareness around fresh cultivated mushrooms, to show how easy they are to prepare, how cost effective they are and how they can enhance any meal.
Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo, GM of The Soweto Hotel (previously Holiday Inn Soweto), says: “We are always delighted to host the Soweto Mushroom Festival workshops here because we enjoy being part of community activities. As we are situated on the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, we are accessible and we have the facilities to host these prestigious events.”
In addition to mushrooms on the menu at all participating restaurants, pubs and B&Bs, live mushroom cooking demonstrations are held at Soweto’s Maponya Mall on Saturday, 29 October from 11h00 until 15h00. CAASA chefs, celebrities, media personalities and previous winners of the SMF Best Dish competitions will cook up their best dishes and visitors will have the chance to taste them.
“This is the SMF’s sixth year and SAMFA, with the support of its generous partners, will once again be pulling out all the stops to create yet another magnificent mushroom event,” says SAMFA chairperson Ross Richardson.
At one live mushroom cooking demonstration on 28 July in Soweto, the following B&B owners, all past winners of the Best Dish competition, cooked up their special recipe for sampling: Ponki Missouri from Harambee B&B; Mary Khoza of Keithlometse B&B; Lizz Chanza from Chanza’s B&B; Peggy Maseko from Letsogapele B&B; and Jane Mookho Lebelo from Mookho’s B&B; as well as Japhta Hatshejame from The Soweto Hotel.
Chef Citrum Khumalo from CAASA was on hand to discuss mushrooms as a vital ingredient to enhance the flavour and nutritional aspects of any dish. Ross Richardson from SAMFA said that mushroom sales go up tremendously on the days on which these types of demonstrations are held.
As October is also International Breast Cancer Month, the Pink Drive project represented by Lize de Jonge used the occasion to raise awareness of early detection of this disease with its fully staffed mobile breast examination unit on hand for local residents to make use of. Mushrooms are also credited with containing an ingredient that can ward off breast cancer.
For more information on the Soweto Mushroom Festival and mushrooms in general go to www.mushroominfo.co.za. Participating restaurants, B&B’s and other outlets will be listed from 10 October.
More about mushrooms
- There are many types of mushrooms in South Africa the most popular commercial mushrooms are cultivated for consumers and available, every day of the year, on the shelves of your favourite supermarket. Cultivated mushrooms are grown on pasteurised compost, in growing rooms under scientifically controlled conditions, which aim to imitate the ideal conditions in nature as closely as possible.
- The mushroom is infinitely variable. It can be eaten raw, sautéed, boiled, baked, cooked in the braai or pickled. Mushrooms can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. To retain ideal mushroom flavour and texture, cook mushrooms briefly, no more than 4 to 5 minutes.
- White mushrooms account for the majority of mushroom sales locally and internationally, and include baby whites and white buttons.
- Brown mushrooms have a firmer texture and a stronger, nuttier flavour than white mushrooms and include baby browns, brown button or portabellini, and large brown or portabella mushrooms.
- Oyster mushrooms are delicate and require little cooking.
- Mushrooms are available all year round. When purchasing ensure they have a firm texture and a dry surface. Avoid withered or damp mushrooms. Handle with care as mushrooms bruise easily.
- Mushrooms are best stored unwashed in brown paper bags or a cloth bag in the refrigerator on the lowest shelf. Do now wash before using but rather wipe them with a damp cloth or paper towel.
- Mushrooms can be frozen raw, and when using do not thaw but put them straight into the pot, stew, soup or casserole.
- Sautéed mushrooms can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to a month.