With so many types of mushrooms at our finger tips (ehem, in our grocery aisles) it's so easy to unlock the incredible flavor of mushrooms. From woodsy shiitakes and hearty cremini, to versatile white button and seasonal gems (morels), the options and recipes are endless. This article showcases the characteristics and uses of 13 of the most common types of edible mushrooms.
1. White button
The most common and most mild mushroom is the white button mushrooms. Button mushrooms are soft in texture and can be eaten both raw and cooked. Use them in soups, salads, pizza, pasta and lasagna (to name a few).
Often labeled as “baby bellas,” crimini mushrooms are a young variety of the portobello. They are interchangeable in most recipes with their relative the white button, but more firm in texture, darker in color and even more flavorful. They're often a bit more expensive than white buttons, but they're worth the added expense.
Portobello mushrooms are large in size (think the size of your hand), are incredibly “meaty,” and rich in flavor. Since they're dense and hold up to a variety of cooking methods (grilling, broiling and roasting), they make a great vegetarian meat alternative.
Idyllic in shape, the shiitake mushroom has a slender stem and a rounded cap that slightly curves under. Fresh shiitakes have an earthy flavor that bodes well for soups and sauces. Discard stems prior to cooking. Dried shiitakes are also a common ingredient, they are extremely intense in earthy, woodsy flavor.
Their name is no mistake, oyster mushrooms look, well, like oysters. But imagine oysters in a cluster. Very tender and chewy in texture, oyster mushrooms are light in color and have a mild almost sweet aroma and flavor. Once cooked, oyster mushrooms take on a meaty texture. Use oyster mushrooms in soups, sauces and stir-fries.
One of the most sought-after types of edible mushrooms, this reddish-brown fungi can be nearly impossible to find fresh, though they can easily be found dried. Porcini mushrooms have a deep, intense woodsy flavor and are smooth in texture.
If you can find them fresh, snatch them up! (Though you may need to be in Italy or France just to get your hands on some fresh porcini mushrooms.) Otherwise, turn to dried for adding tons of flavor to soups, broths and sauces. Buy dried mushrooms here!
This wild mushroom is a beloved variety. Most often foraged for, their gorgeous golden color and firm meaty texture adds to their appeal. They have a sweet fruity scent, nutty flavor, and are trumpet-like in shape with a gilled texture running up the stem and under the cap. These mushrooms are stunning!
Simply sauté chanterells and serve with any kind of meat, or stir into a cream sauce.
A sought-after spring treat in the Midwest and West, the morel mushroom is bold in flavor and somewhat spongey in texture. They have a cone-like shape and are best sautéed in butter, fried, or cooked in a creamy sauce. Look for Morel mushrooms at your local Farmers' Market in March or April, or forage for them yourself!
9. White Beech
With long slender stems and small caps, these clusters of mushrooms are great for brothy soups or stir fries. Although they can be eaten raw, cooking helps lift the bitter flavor. You can often find White Beech mushrooms at your local Asian market.
These noodle-like mushrooms are light white with an almost opaque hue. They feature small shiny caps and are delicious fried, used in pho or ramen, and even as a noodle alternative. Look for Enokitake mushrooms at your local Asian market.
These mushrooms come in clusters and feature both chunky stems and chunky tops. It’s best to eat these mushrooms cooked as they are fairly bitter when eaten raw. Use them in stir-fries, soups, and sauces.
12. Maitake (Hen of Woods)
Another “cluster” variety, this type of edible mushroom resembles a head of cabbage. They have a unique earthy, gamy flavor and are soft in texture.
13. King Trumpet
Largely sought after for their meaty stems, King Trumpets (also referred to as king oyster mushrooms) have thick white stems and stout brown caps. In their raw form they have little flavor, but once cooked they take on a savory, slightly sweet taste. Cook King Trumpets like you would a good piece of meat—roasted, grilled or sautéed.
Now that you know the different types of edible mushrooms, it's time to learn what to look for when buying, how to store them, how to wash them, and even how to cook mushrooms. Check out my Ultimate Mushroom Guide!
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