Growing in dark humid conditions, mushrooms truly are a wonder of the Earth’s ability. This edible fungus originates from spores, not germinating seeds.
Mushrooms contain vitamin C and choline (a nutrient needed for metabolism) and are the only vegan source of vitamin D.
Use mushrooms to add deep, rich, savory flavors to your meal; a magical food that supplements the elusive umami, or savory flavoring, to your favorite dish.
Common Edible Mushrooms
Labeled as “white” or “button” in the local grocery store, white buttons are a universal and mild mushroom.
The common white mushroom is frequently found on pizzas and salad bars.
Nearly all mushrooms consumed in the United States are white buttons. White buttons are available canned but can also be cooked or eaten raw.
Portobello mushrooms are rich and meaty. In contrast to the small size of the common buttons, portobellos have large caps up to 6” in diameter.
The size, texture, and flavor of portobellos make them a brilliant vegetarian alternative to hamburgers and steaks.
Large portobello caps are delicious grilled and topped with balsamic vinegar. Their texture also holds up when baked or broiled.
A younger version of the portabello, cremini are often marketed as “baby portabellos”. The size is similar to a white button with a darker, firmer skin. Similar to portabellos, creminis have a deep, earthly flavor.
Swap out button mushrooms for sautéed creminis to top your next steak.
Rich and woodsy, shiitake mushrooms are available dried or fresh.
Shiitakes were the original mushrooms identified as providing umami, or savory flavors, to Japanese cooking.
The dense texture makes shiitakes ideal for stir-fry’s and dishes that require long periods of simmering such as soups and pastas.
Remove the stems and cook shiitake mushrooms prior to eating.
Less Common Mushrooms of Interest
Colorful chanterelle mushrooms have unique flavors that vary based on the variety.
Chanterelles have a funnel shape and can be white, light yellow, or yellow-orange (avoid the orange false-chanterelle.). Flavors may be fruity, earthy, or spicy.
Chanterelles can be eaten raw, however the intense flavor is best when cooked.
Morels grow wild on the edges of forested areas in Spring.
Found in the United States near ash, aspen, elm, and oak trees, morels are prized for their robust and nutty flavor. Morels are often sautéed in butter and served on their own.
Serious morel “hunters” never share their prized location. Morels can sell for $20/lb.
The most prized of all mushrooms is the truffle.
Truffles are fragrant and flavorful, although they look like tiny wrinkled potatoes.
White truffles have a delicate flavor compared to the stronger black truffles.
Black truffles can cost $95/oz and the more elusive white truffles have a price tag of $168/oz.
Seven different truffle varieties can be found around the world but are centralized in the Italian and French countrysides.
- Store in the refrigerator
- Clean with damp cloth and dry prior to eating
- Never soak
- Cut to even size pieces when cooking with multiple types of mushrooms
- Eat dried or cooked for maximum savory flavor