Mushroom Debacle: Can Store-Bought Mushrooms Match Natural Mushrooms in Protein Content?


  • Arman B.
  • Avin E.
  • Sanaz N.
  • Uzak T.
  • Anson Z.


Mushrooms are the reproductive spore-bearing structures produced by fungi. There are
both inedible and edible mushrooms, and different types of mushrooms have different chemical
compositions. We engineered an experiment to test a large variety of mushroom types for protein
concentration. The experiment involved 12 wild and 9 store-bought mushrooms, as well as
Ninhydrin solution, a reagent that forms a purple compound in the presence of amino acids. We
applied Ninhydrin solution to slices of mushrooms, and heated them to expedite the reaction. We
analyzed the protein concentrations in the mushrooms by comparing the shades of purple on the
mushrooms to a purple hue rubric. We found that the store-bought mushrooms generally turned
darker shades of purple than the wild mushrooms; some of the wild mushrooms did not turn
purple at all. Additionally, mushrooms that were more fresh and softer seemed to observe a
purple colour at a faster rate and developed a darker purple shade after heating. These results
mean that commercially cultivated mushroom species generally had higher protein
concentrations than those found in the wild, demonstrating that overall protein availability affects
the eligibility of a mushroom to be considered food.