• Mushrooms 101

    mushroom-varietiesRaise your mushroom IQ with this reference guide to common cultivated varieties. A generation ago, supermarket shoppers had not much to choose from. Button mushrooms... or button mushrooms? Choices abound now, so you can cook with a different mushroom every day of the week. 

    White button

    White buttonMost popular by a landslide, white buttons account for about 90 percent of America's mushroom consumption. What's not to like? With their mild flavor, meaty caps and thick, tender stems, these everyday mushrooms fit everywhere. From pasta to pizza, from soups to stir fries, almost every savory dish gets better with white button mushrooms.

    • Slice raw button mushrooms; toss with baby greens, avocado and tarragon vinaigrette.
    • Slice and sauté button mushrooms; toss with fettuccine and fried sage leaves.
    • Easily blend finely chopped mushrooms with any ground meat; use in everything from meatballs to tacos.
    • Bake sliced button mushrooms on a pizza with Fontina and spinach.


    criminiLike white buttons, only browner. Criminis have the same smooth, rounded caps but a darker surface, denser texture and slightly earthier flavor than white buttons. They're cultivated from a different strain-hence their more rustic look. Use in casual recipes that call for bolder flavor: pub fare, hot sandwiches and bistro favorites.

    • Stir sautéed crimini mushrooms into lentil soup.
    • Use sautéed crimini mushrooms in quesadillas with chorizo.
    • Spoon sliced sautéed mushrooms over grilled flatiron steak.


    portabellaA grown-up crimini, basically. Just a few more days on the mushroom bed and a crimini becomes a portabella, as large as six inches across. That's right, they double in size every twenty-four hours. More robust flavor-and more possibilities, especially on the grill.

    • Make a grilled-portabella burger with roasted garlic aioli.
    • Stuff portabellas with herbed focaccia crumbs; drizzle with olive oil and bake.


    maitake2Simply stunning. These unusual mushrooms look like frilly carnations and have a rich, woodsy taste. Meaty and succulent, they're also known as "hen of the woods."

    • Grill maitake mushrooms with a generous basting of olive oil. Serve with polenta.
    • Sauté chopped maitake and add to farro risotto.


    shiitakeAn Asian pantry staple in dried form, shiitake are versatile fresh mushrooms, too. Partner with other Chinese or Japanese ingredients, like sesame oil and tofu; or use them to bring a whiff of fusion to a familiar Western dish.

    • Add shiitake to ramen with mustard greens and spicy broth.
    • Add chopped sautéed shiitake to pork meatballs for a meatball sandwich with Sriracha mayo.


    enokiJust adorable. Everybody loves these mini-mushrooms with the spaghetti-like stems, especially kids. Delicate and fruity, they cook in a flash. Add to soups and stir-fries, or eat raw in wraps.

    • Make a Vietnamese-style lettuce wrap with grilled pork, cilantro, mint, enoki mushrooms and fried shallots.
    • Add to miso-watercress soup.


    oyster2With their pale pearly color, these mushrooms not only look like the shellfish they're named for; they have a mild oyster flavor, too. Always cook oyster mushrooms. They're tender and cook quickly. Use in simple preparations that let their subtle nature shine.

    • Fold sautéed oyster mushrooms into scrambled eggs with chives.
    • Make an "oyster stew" with sautéed oyster mushrooms, vegetable broth, bacon, potatoes and cream.

    King Trumpet

    kingtrumpetThese stout and stumpy mushrooms are almost all stalk. Topped with a tiny cap, these mild mushrooms have a firm, meaty texture. Also called King Oysters, they are the largest species in the oyster mushroom family.

    • Bread and fry sliced king trumpets for the best mushroom tempura you've ever had.
    • Make king trumpet "scallops" by cutting the stalk in horizontal slices, and searing them in a hot sauté pan with olive oil, garlic, thyme, and white wine.


    beechThese petite fungi have slender stems and tiny rounded caps that may be white or light brown. Crunchy, mild and nutty. Super cute, too. Cook lightly to preserve their crispness.

    • Add beech mushrooms to fajitas; serve with warm corn tortillas.
    • Simmer frozen tortellini or won ton in rich chicken broth; stir in beech mushrooms just before serving.

    Mushroom Buying, Storing and Care

    Mushroom Handling: Store to Stove
    How to Clean & Prepare Fresh Mushrooms
    How to Select & Store Fresh Mushrooms 

    Shopping tips:
    3-_how_to_select_and_store(7604)_smallMake the most of your grocery dollars by purchasing mushrooms at their best. They'll last longer in your fridge if you select them carefully and store them right. So go ahead, get picky. These tips will help you be a more discriminating mushroom shopper:

    • Cultivated mushrooms are always in season. The supply is steady and of similar quality year round. That means you can add mushrooms to menus at any time and be confident that they will be at the peak of freshness.
    • Choose firm mushrooms with a fresh, unblemished appearance. They should be dry, but not dried out. If they're decaying or soggy, leave them behind.
    • Mushrooms with a closed veil (no gills showing) will have a more delicate flavor. Mushrooms with an open veil and exposed gills will have richer flavor.
    • At the store, put loose mushrooms in a paper bag, not a plastic bag. Mushrooms hate plastic.

    Storage tips:

    • Refrigerate mushrooms in their original unopened packaging or in a porous paper bag. Stored in a tightly closed plastic bag, which traps moisture, they decay more quickly. You can however, store mushrooms in a plastic bag if they are wrapped in a paper towel.
    • Try to use mushrooms soon after purchase. However, many types will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
    • Fresh mushrooms don't freeze successfully, but cooked mushrooms do. You can freeze sautéed mushrooms for up to one month so they're ready to use in soups, omelets, braises or pasta sauces.

    Cleaning tips:

    • Use your fingers, a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush to remove any peat moss. Or rinse briefly under running water, then pat dry quickly with paper towels.
    • Never soak mushrooms in water. They absorb moisture easily and become difficult to sauté.
    • Trim any tough or dried-out stems. Remove shiitake stems unless they're tender. Save stems for stocks or stuffings.
  • Mushroom Fact

    Brush off any peat moss with your fingers or a damp paper towel, or rinse the mushrooms briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Do not soak mushrooms in water as they easily absorb moisture.

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