Mushrooms are gaining traction as a food source not only packed with nutrients, but also one of the most versatile foods in the market.

According to Vanessa Sew Chung Hong, DENNY® Marketing Manager, mushrooms are climbing the global popularity ladder.

“Mushrooms are billed to help with a range of ailments; from gout and cancer prevention, to weight loss and reducing blood pressure*. They are also great meal accompaniments or enjoyed on their own, whether in sauces, on the braai or used as a meat-alternative,” says Sew Chung Hong.

Below are DENNY® Mushrooms’ top mushroom trends to watch out for in 2017:

Food trend #1: Mushroom drinks

Believe it or not, celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow are using the fungus to make drinks like mushroom smoothies and shakes. Her blog, Goop, caused a stir in 2016 when it released a recipe using vanilla mushroom protein powder.  Similarly, mushroom cocktails have started making an appearance across the world, thanks to their earthy taste, with mushroom flavours being infused in whiskey, vodka and gin. A Finnish company that produces mushroom-infused products recently billed mushroom coffee to be the next superfood drink, due to the powerful health benefits that mushrooms offer.

Food trend #2: Mushroom variants

Your mushroom vocabulary may include Portobellos, Oysters, Shiitake and White Buttons. But what about burgers, nuggets and bites? Mushrooms, nutritious and loaded with vitamins and minerals, come in all shapes and sizes, but a new trend that is taking shape is the use of fresh mushrooms in convenient foods, such as burger patties.

“People are becoming more health-conscious and savvy about the products they buy, but they don’t want to compromise on taste or convenience. They are also looking for alternatives to meat, GMO or Soya products. This trend is giving rise to healthy, convenient mushroom food products,” says Sew Chung Hong.

She adds that in line with this trend, DENNY® Mushrooms recently launched its Mushroom Burgers, a first in South Africa. The burgers come in two variants, Original and Crumbed, and are made of farm fresh mushrooms.

Food trend #3: The blend trend

Mushrooms are lauded for being great additions to weight loss programmes, thanks to their 92% water content and having zero fat. But, a new trend in the weight loss world may see health fanatics blend mushrooms with meals to reduce calorie intake. A study by the Culinary Institute of America and the University of California-Davis found that by incorporating finely chopped mushrooms into cooked dishes, and using a ratio of 50/50 (mushrooms/meat or fish), participants were able to reduce their calorie intake, without losing any flavour.

Food trend #4: Mushroom-infused foods

Media reports recently announced that food manufacturers are trying to use natural ingredients to hide or enhance flavours. This will help to keep the taste profile of products, without needing to add in more of the ingredients that are getting a bad rap, such as sugar. This trend is taking shape as more consumers scrutinise their labels. The Wall Street Journal reported in January this year that a biotech company is using mushrooms to remove the bitterness in cacao beans so that chocolate type products can be made with less sugar.

*SOURCE: South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association