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Best Substitute for Mushrooms

Lisa Price
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by Lisa Price

Mushrooms are a popular food for people worldwide; however, there may be times when a substitute is necessary. This can be related to food and dietary preferences or food allergies.

In some cases, a recipe may call for mushrooms, and you don’t have any on hand. In this instance, you can use a substitute for mushrooms to achieve the desired effect. Consider the following information related to mushroom substitutes and try one the next time you get a chance.

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TOFU Is Our Top Choice Mushroom Replacement
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What Are Mushrooms?

Mushrooms
Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the reproduction structure of numerous fungi located across the world. The mushroom is filled with spores in the underside gills in the mushroom’s cap or top.

The mushroom releases these spores through various means. For example, mushroom spores spread by wind, bugs, animals, and other activities or disturbances.

Once the spores land in a suitable substrate, they will begin to grow and reproduce all over again. The mushroom has a short lifespan, unlike plants.

 They absorb their nutrients from other organic materials rather than sunlight. They are, in a sense, parasitic. They also require substantial moisture to reproduce and grow. They usually grow in moist soil with plenty of shade and humidity.

They won’t grow in arid climates, usually, and can grow in dense patches if conditions are right.

You can use Tofu, Eggplant or Tempeh as Mushroom substitute because they have the same closeness in taste and texture as Mushroom. Other alternatives are Zucchini and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

1. Tofu

Tofu
Tofu

Arguably one of the top mushroom substitutes is tofu. Tofu is a soybean paste compressed together into blocks and sold in stores in the refrigerated section. If you don’t have a soy allergy, then tofu is a good choice.

Tofu doesn’t have a flavor of its own, but rather it takes on the flavor of whatever the pieces cook with or the seasoning you use. If you want to mimic the taste of a mushroom, you can add flavorings and spices that create a mushroom-like flavor.

To use tofu correctly, you need to press the water out of it first. It can’t absorb flavors if it’s full of the water it’s packed in for freshness. To press the water out, place the tofu on a towel and put a towel on top. Then put a heavy pan or book on top of the towel for an hour.

Another reason tofu is such a good substitute that it can closely mimic the texture of mushrooms and is a suitable option easily found year-round.

Cooking Time

If you plan to use tofu, keep in mind that it will fall apart after lengthy cooking times. You can prevent this process by lightly frying it, but be sure to season it first because the tofu doesn’t absorb flavors as well once it’s fried.

If you plan to cook a dish for a long time, consider adding the tofu at the end of the cooking process if you don’t want to use fried tofu but want to keep the integrity of the texture.

2. Eggplant

Eggplant
Egg Plant

Eggplant is found in most stores across the country and occasionally at a fresh food stand or farmer’s market. Although they typically don’t grow year-round, they’re easy to find in most cities when they’re in season.

The eggplant has a texture very similar to that of a mushroom. It possesses that same springy quality to its flesh that gives the mushroom its appeal. Although eggplant does have a flavor of its own, it can easily mimic the flavor of a mushroom if it’s prepared correctly.

Eggplant should be peeled first to give a convincing performance in a dish. It would be best to cook the eggplant until it’s tender and soft, unlike the mushroom, which is eaten raw in some instances.

There are many types of eggplant out there, so it’s best to experiment with a few varieties before settling on a style that’s ideal for your mushroom substitution.

Cooking Times

Eggplant is similar to mushrooms in texture but not flavor. It can cook for a long time and is a pleasant flavor as a substitute in most dishes.

Although you can mimic a mushroom texture, you’ll want to remove the skin first because it’s a definite giveaway and changes the flavor of the eggplant.

3. Tempeh

Tempeh
Tempeh

Tempeh is another excellent mushroom substitute made from fermented soybeans. The soybeans are soaked and then partly cooked.

Unlike tofu, it has a heartier texture and a similar flavor to mushrooms. It’s a bit more convincing than tofu, but some may prefer tofu’s texture.

Tempeh can take on a seasoning easily and can stand up to cooking methods required for stews and sauce dishes. It is also an excellent idea for a sandwich where mushrooms are typically included. You should also try to slice the tempeh thinly to mimic a mushroom.

However, if you have a mold allergy, you’ll want to stay away from tempeh because it may trigger a reaction.

Cooking Times

When you need to mimic the flavor of mushrooms and want to cook the tempeh for a long time, this is an ideal option. You can do almost anything with tempeh you do with mushrooms.

If you want to avoid changing the flavor of the tempeh too much, try adding it closer to the end of the cooking time.

4. Zucchini

Zucchini
Zucchini

Zucchini is a type of squash sometimes referred to as summer squash. It can grow very large but is generally more desirable when it’s smaller. The zucchini has a similar texture to the mushroom, especially when it’s sliced thinly.

However, you should note that it isn’t going to fool anyone into thinking it’s a piece of mushroom. It does work in dishes asking for mushrooms when you need a good, tasty substitution.

Zucchini are found in grocery stores and farmer’s markets across the country and may be available year-round in some locations.

Cooking Times

If you don’t need to cook a dish for longer than an hour, the zucchini is a good match. The longer you cook zucchini, however, the softer they become. They may not be an excellent substitute for mushrooms when this happens and can get lost in the mix.

You can also roast the zucchini and add it at the end if you’re worried about it holding up in the dish.

5. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Dried Tomatoes

Although sun-dried tomatoes don’t have the same flavor as mushrooms, they can closely mimic the texture. They are also able to absorb flavors and go well in many of the same dishes featuring mushrooms.

Sun-dried tomatoes are picked when they’re ripe and then left in the sun to dry naturally. The result is a tangy flavor and a sturdy texture that holds up to vigorous cooking in sauces, stews, and soups.

It’s an ideal solution for Italian dishes calling for mushrooms or a substitute for a beef stew or other similar dish. Sun-dried tomatoes come packaged or in cans in your local grocery store. The canned varieties are softer and have a potent tomato flavor.

The dry versions are found whole, cut in half, or pieces. They need to be cut into mushroom-like pieces for a convincing texture.

Cooking times

If you plan to cook a meal that takes time to simmer and doesn’t require the flavor of mushroom, this would be a great option. The sun-dried tomato can hold its texture and produce incredible flavor even after cooking for hours.

Summary

If you’re planning to cook a dish and need a good substitute for mushrooms, you should consider using one of these options. If you need to mimic the flavor, you would ideally try the tempeh or even the eggplant. Those are the best choices for creating a mushroom-like flavor and texture.

If you don’t like tempeh or can’t eat it, you’ll want to try tofu or zucchini. For the best texture and flavor possibilities, tofu would be the best bet. You can make tofu taste like almost anything, and if you want to firm up the texture some, you can even fry the tofu, and it will stick together much better.

If you don’t need to mimic the flavor of a mushroom but rather use an alternative that matches well in dishes commonly featuring mushrooms, you can try to use the sun-dried tomato. There are a few different options to choose from, and they usually work wonders for the flavors of dishes they’re in.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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