What is a beech mushroom?
Beech mushrooms, or “Shimeji” in Japanese, are little, edible white or brown mushrooms that grow in clusters at the base of decaying beech trees. White beech mushrooms are also called “white clamshell” and brown beech mushooms are also called “brown clamshell”. Native to East Asia, beech mushrooms have a nutty, if not buttery, taste. They are commonly used in stir-fry seafood and game dishes.
While the stem and cap of beech mushrooms are edible, the base from which they grow is not. It should be discarded once the mushrooms are cut from it.
When can babies eat mushrooms?
While certainly not a common first food, edible mushrooms can be served to your baby as soon as they are ready for solids (typically around 6 months old). Cooking mushrooms is generally recommended for better digestion and to improve bioavailability of nutrients. Beech mushrooms also tend to be bitter, which cooking will alleviate to some extent. You may find roasted or sautéed portabella mushrooms easiest for your baby to hold if they are younger than 12 months old.
Can babies eat raw beech mushrooms?
Yes, though you may want to wait until your baby is 12 months old before introducing raw mushrooms because raw mushrooms can be difficult to digest. Cooking mushrooms makes it easier for our bodies to digest them and has the added benefit of making their nutrients more bioavailable.1
Note: It’s best to purchase mushrooms from a trusted source to minimize potential toxic exposure and the accidental ingestion of poisonous mushrooms. As your baby grows older, educate them on the dangers of poisonous mushrooms and sampling mushrooms found outdoors.
Are mushrooms healthy for my baby?
Absolutely—especially when they are cooked, which releases more nutrients and makes it easier for your baby’s digestive system to absorb. Mushrooms offer key nutrients that babies need, including B vitamins, zinc, copper, and potassium. They are also one of the only non-animal food sources of vitamin D (maitake and portobello mushrooms tend to be highest), though typically in the form of vitamin D2, which has less of a biological effect. 2
Finally, many mushroom varieties contain a good amount of two key antioxidants, which may play a role in decreasing the likelihood of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.3
Are mushrooms a choking hazard for my baby?
While not listed as a common choking hazard, mushrooms—particularly their round stems—can absolutely pose a risk if not sliced. Be sure to slice and cook the mushrooms to soften them before serving, discarding any round stems that may have fallen off in the process.
Are mushrooms a common allergen?
While uncommon, some individuals may be allergic to mushrooms or the spores released in the air by them.
Which varieties of mushrooms are best for babies?
While there are many varieties of mushrooms that are healthy and delicious, shitake, cremini, portabella, and maitake are all great choices. To reduce risk of both toxic exposure and potential inebible varieties, purchase mushrooms from a reliable source, such as a grocery store or a local mushroom farmer.
How do you prepare mushrooms for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Fold mushrooms into other dishes you may be making, such as polenta or grits, lentils and sauces.
12 to 24 months old: At this age your toddler is sure to love playing with a whole beech mushroom stem: offer a few mushroom stems, cap intact, and let your child chomp on them raw. This is a good age to continue regularly exposing your child to mushrooms so they develop the taste for them as the picky eating years set in.
★ Tip: If your baby is unwilling to try beech mushrooms on their own, try folding sautéed mushrooms into an omelet or stirring them into a creamy rice or quinoa dish.
Recipe: Beech Mushrooms with Garlic & Parsley
- Beech Mushrooms (one block, base removed)
- Olive oil
- Cut the mushrooms away from the solid base from which they grew (if they are still on one). The base is inedible.
- Peel and finely chop the garlic. Chop the parsley leaves, discarding the stem.
- Pour a splash of olive oil into a skillet, and warm over medium heat.Add the garlic and lower the heat to medium low. Immediately add the mushrooms and stir to coat well. Cook until softened. Add the parsley and stir to mix.
Mushrooms pair well with butternut squash, chicken, cream sauces, egg, garlic, cheese, parsley, and salmon.
- Oregon Mushrooms. Beech Mushrooms. Retrieved August 31, 2019 from https://www.oregonmushrooms.com/c-107-beech-mushrooms.aspx
- Cardwell, G., Bornman, J. F., James, A. P., & Black, L. J. (2018). A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D. Nutrients, 10(10), 1498. doi:10.3390/nu10101498
- Penn State. (2017, November 9). Mushrooms are full of antioxidants that may have antiaging potential. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171109100409.htm