Exploring Mushrooms

Playing with Dried Shitake Mushrooms 

Variety is the spice of life! This activity of soaking dried mushrooms helps children play with and learn about new a new food outside meal time, which reduces any pressure to taste the food. Research suggests it can take time and patience for a child to feel ready to taste a new food, sometimes it can take 10-20 exposures to a new food before a child feels ready to taste. An exposure can include seeing others eat and enjoy the food, or simply the child touching or growing foods are positive exposures too.

Exploring Mushrooms 

Shitake mushrooms are used as an example, but any variety of dried mushrooms can be used for this activity. Shitake mushrooms are a common type of mushroom used in a variety of traditional Asian cuisines – they are native to Japan, China, and other Asian countries.

Benefits of Cooking with Dehydrated Mushrooms 

Dried or dehydrated mushrooms are a cost-effective way to enjoy mushrooms, they keep well in the cupboard or pantry. After mushrooms are rehydrated, they can be used in a variety of savory dishes like soups, stews, pastas, omelets, stir-fries and more! Mushrooms provide a meaty texture, and slightly savory and umami (or meaty) flavor to dishes. Shitake mushrooms add a an earthy and umami flavor to dishes.

Activity: Soaking Dried Shitake Mushrooms 

Have children help rehydrate dried shitake mushrooms in warm water.

Supplies: dried shitake (or alternative type of dried mushrooms), medium or small bowl, warm water, paper towel or clean dry reusable towel.

1.    Have children add 2-3 dried mushrooms to a clean bowl.  Reserve a few dried mushrooms to compare to soaked mushrooms at the end. 
2.    Together with an adult: carefully add enough warm water to cover mushrooms. 
3.    Let rest for about 15 minutes. 
4.    While mushrooms rest, have children draw or colour dried mushrooms.  
5.    After 15 minutes, it’s time to see how the mushrooms have changed! 
a.    Together, and with clean hands, have the children carefully remove a few mushrooms from the bowl of water, gently blot dry on a clean towel. 
b.    Notice how the size of the mushrooms has changed, set side-by-side with dried mushrooms. 
c.    Feel the dried mushrooms and the soaked mushrooms, notice changes in the texture – are they are more soft, squishy, has the colour changed? 
d.    Compare the dried mushrooms size, texture mushrooms that are still dehydrated.  
6.    On the same paper, have children draw or colour the soaked mushrooms.

Click here for a colouring sheet for mushrooms.