For some people, mushrooms are an acquired taste as the flavor profile is a bit too earthy for their liking. Others still may be grossed out on principle at the idea of eating a fungus, but rest assured that mushrooms are considered vegetables, as well. Another common criticism is that mushrooms don’t really have a taste, so why add them to a dish in the first place?
Adding Mushrooms to Your Dishes
Mushrooms add more than flavor to a dish, they add texture. They also make a dish taste more savory. Here are some mushrooms to add to your favorite dishes.
These are probably the most common mushroom variety, they’re the ones you tend to see in the grocery store. You may be thinking, wait a minute, you see different kinds of mushrooms at the store all the time like cremini and portobello, and not this white button.
These are actually all the same mushroom! White buttons are the white mushrooms you can purchase whole or sliced. Cremini mushrooms are their browner counterparts. They often have a meatier texture. Portobello mushrooms also have a meaty texture, which may be why they’re used as a substitute for meat in vegetarian-type burgers.
Button mushrooms are commonly grown in composted manure, typically horse manure. They’re the easiest mushroom to grow at home if you’re feeling adventurous. You can purchase a kit that includes inoculated material and mushroom spores or you can get them from a reputable source.
To use them, just slice them up and eat them raw, add them to a salad, or saute them and add them to soups, stews or your favorite dishes.
While shiitake mushrooms are heavily associated with Japanese cuisine, they can be a welcome addition to any meal. Known for having a wide, flat top, they have a meatier taste that blends well with wide variety of flavors so you won't be limited to one type of dish. They’re also considered the healthiest mushroom because they're high in vitamins and minerals.
Shiitake mushrooms grow best out of harvest hardwood logs, such as oak, maple, and beech. Initially, you’ll want to sow the spawn in sawdust and insert it into the tree. Purchase a growing kit to ensure the materials you use are inoculated and ready to go.
Oyster mushrooms are the largest of the edible mushrooms. They tend to be chewier than other varieties and a bit spongy. Since they’re easy to identify in the wild, you may be able to pick them as you see them. They don’t have a poisonous counterpart. However, if hunting for mushrooms isn’t your thing, you can grow them really easily at home in straw, sawdust or even waste coffee grounds. They’re the least picky of the mushroom spores.
Oysters have a naturally mild flavor and velvety texture so when someone prepares them improperly, those subtle qualities can get lost and the mushrooms turn out bland. Sautee or roast them in butter and salt to bring out the right flavors, and pair their velvet texture with chicken or seafood. Oyster mushrooms have long been viewed as medicinal mushrooms because they’re high in antioxidants and have massive health benefits, such as lower cholesterol.
Porcini mushrooms are commonly used in many luxury dishes. They tend to have a more intense flavor than other mushroom varieties. Porcinis have a nutty flavor and are available in grocery and specialty stores and available both fresh and dried. They are easily identifiable in the wild, especially for experienced foragers. However, you may be able to grow them at home on wet cardboard. Porcinis tout health benefits, including benefits for the cardiovascular system.
Chanterelles are gold or orange mushrooms that are easily distinguished in the wild by their wavy caps. They have a delicate meaty and nutty flavor with a somewhat fruity aroma. They’re high in protein, vitamins A and D2, iron, and amino acids. Add them to your pasta dishes or pair them with cured meats and cheeses. You can also roast them to add a depth of flavor to vegetables.
Although it may not be as easy to grow them at home, you may be able to find them in the wild. Be sure you know what you’re looking for and go with an experienced forager.
Morels are unique mushrooms that resemble honeycombs. They’re defined by a meaty and nutty flavor that is stronger than other varieties. They’re considered wild mushrooms, so you’re not likely to see them at the grocery store. You may see them at your local farmer’s market. If you’ve tasted them before, the good news is you can grow them yourself. There are growing kits available to help you grow them safely in your garden, especially if you don’t wish to traipse around the woods trying to identify safe mushrooms to snack on.
These mushrooms are super high in iron and vitamin D. Add them to your favorite foods to bring out a richer, nuttier flavor in the dish.
Tips for Getting the Best Mushrooms
There are a few things to consider before you purchase mushrooms, especially if you plan to pick them yourself or purchase from a farmer’s market or forager. Firstly, always buy good quality mushrooms from a reputable source. The fact that you aren't always capable is determining if a mushroom is obviously safe or not, means your seller can make the same mistakes. Try to purchase your mushrooms of all varieties from a vendor with knowledge and experience.
Clean your mushrooms before eating or adding them to any dish. Despite their spongy textures, there's little danger in a quick rinse and brush oversaturating the mushroom with moisture. Specialty mushroom brushes are sold specifically for removing bits of dirt from the surface of the earthy caps.
If you forage mushrooms yourself, go with an expert. Picking the wrong mushroom can lead to illness or in some cases death.