With over 38,000 different varieties of mushroom, anyone who is mad about mushrooms sure has plenty to choose from. Take a look at the distinct characteristics of some of the more popular varieties and a few handy tips for preparing your favorite variety.
More popularly known as button mushrooms or white mushrooms, these are the most commonly used variety. They are abundantly available fresh, frozen or canned at any supermarket. Agaricus mushrooms have a mild flavor if eaten raw, but the flavor gets intensified when they are cooked.
Considered one of the finest among mushrooms, their high price is no deterrent to those who love the meaty texture and distinctive flavor of the Porcino mushroom. They are available in variable sizes and have a very characteristic shape.
Originally cultivated only in Japan on natural oak logs, shiitake mushrooms are now available in larger grocery stores around the world. Large in size and black-brown in color, shiitake mushrooms have an earthy-rich flavor. Dried shiitakes have a more intense flavor and are often preferred to the fresh variety. They are commonly used in soups and stir-fried dishes.
Large, circular and flat, Portobello mushrooms can sometimes grow to the size of a regular-sized hamburger. They have an dense, chewy texture and are an excellent choice for roasting and grilling.
Pleurotus mushrooms, also known as oyster mushrooms because of the remarkable similarity in taste, are penis envy mushrooms available in colors that range from off-white to different shades of brown. Their texture is more suitable for use in cooked dishes.
Highly prized, with a price to match, these conical mushrooms with a honey combed surface are much sought after for flavoring stews and sauces with their intense earthy flavor. Morel mushrooms are small and dark brown and can also be used for stuffing.
Girolle or Chanterelle Mushrooms
Trumpet shaped and yellow-gold in color, Chanterelle mushrooms have a rich flavor that ranges from apricot to earthy. They are best eaten fresh, but are also available canned or dried.
Enokitake or Enoki Mushrooms
Native to Japan, Enokitake mushrooms have a sprout-like appearance with thin, long stems and small caps atop them. They are typically white in color, have a light, fruity taste and are served raw in salads and soups.
Also called Italian Brown because of their dark brown color, Crimini Mushrooms are dense in texture and possess a rich flavor.
Handy Hints and Tips for Preparing Mushrooms
Cooking With Mushrooms
Remember dried mushrooms have an extremely concentrated flavor and should be considered more as seasonings rather than vegetables. Dried mushrooms need to be soaked in hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes, rinsed, chopped and then added to soups, sauces and stews.
Most mushrooms can be eaten raw as well as cooked. However the stems of certain varieties included Portabella and Shiitake are often tough and must be removed. They can be used as flavoring agents in certain dishes if need be.