Mushrooms are a popular and much-relished food product across the globe. Most cultures have recipes dedicated to the stunning range of mushrooms available in nature.
Preparing mushrooms requires an understanding of the subtle changes in flavor in different stages of the mushrooms’ life and storing process. Dry mushrooms will always have intense flavors, which will require stronger flavors to complement them.
For a milder flavor, you can use fresh or canned mushrooms of the same variety. Make your meals enjoyable by adding a new type of mushroom to the mix.
Read further to find out which mushrooms to cook and which ones to stay away from.
- Button Mushrooms
- Enoki Mushrooms
- Porcini Mushrooms
- Chanterelle Mushrooms
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Cremini Mushrooms
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Brown Cap Boletus
- Red Amanita
- Green Amanita
- Hedgehog Mushrooms
- Maitake Mushrooms Or Hen Of The Woods
- Honey Agaric
- King Trumpet Mushrooms
- Lactarius Indigo
- Black Trumpet Mushrooms
- Shimeji Mushrooms
- Morel Mushrooms
- Oyster Mushrooms
- Beech Mushrooms
- Milk Mushroom
- Pioppino Mushroom
- Final Thoughts
Most people you come across can identify button mushrooms. Also known as white button mushrooms, they grow in all seasons, therefore always available on the market. An amusing fact is, when matured, this mushroom is called Portobello.
Since it has a very mild flavor, it can be added to a variety of recipes. Button mushrooms taste great sautéed or in stir-fries, soups, pizza, and salads. In case you want to use them for baking, select slightly older ones since they are firmer.
Enoki mushrooms, also known as Enokitake, are widely found in Asia. Several Japanese preparations are incomplete without this mushroom. One such dish is Nametake, which is soft enoki mushroom cooked in soy sauce.
They have a thin and crunchy texture and are often eaten raw in salads or used as a topping for soups. Furthermore, these mushrooms have also been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to treat cholesterol, high blood pressure, and stomach diseases.
Porcini mushrooms are often used in Italian kitchens. They are known for their nutty and earthy flavor and have a meaty and chewy texture. Fresh porcini is not as common, and most dishes are made with dried ones by soaking them in water for rehydration.
People enjoy dried porcini in pasta, risottos, or even sautéed in butter. Dried porcini adds deep flavor to broths and soups. It also tastes excellent pickled.
Chanterelle is a colorful mushroom – if there ever was one. It is shaped like a trumpet and found in the wild in orange, yellow, and white. Flavor-wise, they are slightly peppery and used in French and Austrian cuisine. Some people describe the scent of Chanterelle to be fruity, like apricots.
This mushroom is usually collected fresh since its cultivation is challenging, which is why most recipes involve using fresh Chanterelle. They are best paired with meat and egg dishes.
Portobello is commonly used in Italian dishes. They have a dense texture and are rich in taste. It makes it a perfect meat substitute for a healthy vegan or vegetarian dish.
This mushroom (also known as open cap mushroom) is much wider than other varieties, making it easy to stuff and bake. One such delicious recipe involves stuffing the mushroom with mashed potatoes and spices in the wide head of the mushroom. It is then topped with shredded cheese and grilled or baked in the oven.
Cremini is darker and more flavorful than white button mushrooms. However, both of them are pretty similar in shape and size. The only noticeable difference is the visible brownish color of the cremini.
They are commonly called baby portobellos and are used in a variety of recipes. Cremini doesn’t have an intense flavor like portobellos and is primarily used in the same dishes as button mushrooms.
The word Shiitake has a Japanese origin, which means “oak fungus”. As you can imagine, it usually grows on the trunks of oak trees. They are brown-colored, umbrella-like mushrooms that are widely used in Japan.
When dried, they have an intense taste which goes well with soups and stir-fries. Nowadays, it can be a substitute for meat dishes because of its thick and chewy texture which gives a satisfying bite.
Brown Cap Boletus
Brown Cap Boletus or Boletus Edulis grows in the northern hemisphere in parts of Europe, Asia and North America. It is often found in the wild on deciduous and coniferous trees. Cultivation of Botelus is a challenge; that is why most of its uses are in its dried form.
This mushroom can be used to make a variety of dishes like risotto, pasta, and soups. Moreover, it gives a warm and rich taste which enhances any dish to it is added to.
This is one mushroom you should be careful of! Amanita is found in over 600 varieties in nature, and many of them are deadly poisonous. Some types are fit for human consumption, but only seasoned mushroom collectors go hunting for these fungi.
Different varieties grow in central Africa, Mexico, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The poisonous types are often used to catch flies. For safety reasons, the sale of Amanita mushrooms is banned in some countries like Australia and Thailand.
Green Amanita, also known as ‘Death Cap Amanita’, is a highly toxic mushroom. They have a pale olive-green appearance and resemble a few non-toxic mushrooms like Caesar’s mushroom and Straw Mushroom.
Please stay away from these mushrooms because they are poisonous enough to kill an adult human. Moreover, even cooking them does not kill off the poison.
This is a pale yellow-brown mushroom that is often called Sweet Tooth or Wood Hedgehog. These mushrooms are found and sold mainly in Europe and Canada.
The Hedgehog Mushroom can replace Chanterelle in recipes since they have a similar meaty, crunchy texture and a nutty flavor. Its taste can be compared to the peppery bite of oysters or watercress. Moreover, this mushroom absorbs moisture and is often used for pickling or dishes with sauce.
Maitake Mushrooms Or Hen Of The Woods
In Japanese, Maitake stands for ‘dancing mushroom.’ It grows in the wilderness on oak and maple trees in Japan, China, and North America. Maitake mushrooms have a petal-like appearance and resemble a flower.
Hen Of The Wood mushrooms are used in western cuisine as well as in Japanese dishes. The earthy flavor goes well with soups and stir-fries. Along with being used in delectable dishes, it also has many medicinal properties. Studies show this mushroom may have a role in preventing cancer and improving overall immunity.
This mushroom has a pale yellow color resembling honey. It is found growing on trees and wild bushes in North America and Europe. Honey Agaric mushrooms are famously known as the largest living organism in the world. The largest one of these mushrooms covered more than 3.4 square miles!
Like the tip of an iceberg, only a tiny fraction of the entire organism is visible on the surface. Most of the roots and miles-long connections are hidden under the earth. A fascinating fact is that they can end up living for thousands of years.
King Trumpet Mushrooms
This mushroom is thick and fleshy and often called French Horn mushroom. These names are derived from its thick stem and flat top. Apart from that, the King Trumpet mushroom is commonly consumed in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
This mushroom is known for its rich umami flavor and meaty texture. The taste is mild when fresh and is delicious when grilled or added as a butter base with sauce.
This grey-blue mushroom almost looks like it comes from a different planet. It is also called Blue Milk mushroom because blue milk oozes out of it when cut or ruptured. It grows in the wild forests of North and Central America, East Asia, and Southern France.
They are often picked and sold in markets of China, Guatemala, and Mexico. It has a similar flavor to Portobello, but the texture is grainy and crumbles easily.
Black Trumpet Mushrooms
The Black Trumpet is also sometimes called ‘Horn Of Plenty’ or ‘Trumpet Of The Dead.’ Unlike most mushrooms, it doesn’t have a distinct stalk and cap. Instead, it looks like a long black, wrinkled flower. It grows under beech and oak trees, especially in moist areas, found in Japan, Europe, and North America.
Despite its displeasing appearance, its flavor is quite sought after. After drying, it has a unique smoky flavor that resembles black truffle. Furthermore, it has varied uses in French cuisine.
Shimeji is commonly found in East Asia. It is popular in Japan owing to its umami flavor. This mushroom is cherished in Japanese kitchens for its firm and slightly crunchy texture. Apart from umami notes, it also has a somewhat nutty taste after cooking.
Cooking reduces the bitterness which Shimeji mushroom naturally carries and makes it more palatable. It can be served as a standalone dish or an accompaniment with a rice dish called ‘Takikomi Gohan.’
No, this isn’t a honeycomb! These mushrooms are not the best looking, but they are pretty sought after in the culinary world. They are Morel mushrooms, also known as Morchella. It is naturally found in temperate areas of North America, Turkey, China, the Himalayas, and India.
It is a celebrated ingredient in French cooking for its spectacular flavor. Morel mushrooms have a savory note and taste incredible when grilled or sautéed in fat. They are one of the more expensive ones available.
Oyster mushroom, or Hiratake, as it is known in Japanese, is a common food product consumed globally. It is believed to have derived the name due to its resemblance to the mollusk of the same name. Strangely, a few oyster mushrooms are carnivorous, feeding on nematodes.
When it comes to culinary uses, these mushrooms have a distinct sweet and delicate flavor. The bittersweet scent can be compared to those bitter almonds or anise. This mushroom is considered a delicacy in Asian cuisines. Along with that, it is used frequently in stir fry dishes paired with soy sauce.
This variety of mushrooms is found in temperate climates of Europe, North America, and Australia. They get their name from the tree they grow on, which is the Beech tree. Owing to its appearance, it is also called a Clamshell mushroom.
What’s distinct about these mushrooms is that the brown caps are quite crunchy and make for a solid bite when raw. However, when eaten raw, the Beech mushroom has a bitter taste which might not be very palatable. Once you cook the mushrooms, it tastes sweet and nutty.
This mushroom is found exclusively in India. It appears in the wilderness mostly after rainfall, mainly in the West Bengal region; however, it is now cultivated in China, Malaysia, and Singapore. Milky mushrooms are all white and firm; they don’t even change color when cut or bruised.
Milk mushroom has a mild, slightly oily flavor, much like an unripened coconut, and the scent resembles that of radishes.
Russula is such a brightly colored mushroom that it’s difficult to miss it in the woods. However, don’t be fooled by the bright red colored caps because some of their varieties are highly poisonous.
Certain varieties of this mushroom can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, similar to the pains and burning sensation after ingesting very spicy chilly. Symptoms may include nausea and vomiting. Other varieties are known to be fatal for humans. Also, most of them are found in Europe, the Pacific, and some parts of Asia.
Toadstools are usually bright and colorful mushrooms that are poisonous. Many of them are brilliant red with white spores on the cap, giving them a distinct spotted look.
The name of these mushrooms originates from the folklore of the ancient ages. It was believed that toads carried illnesses and whatever they sat on instantly became poisonous too.
This is a common mushroom grown and collected in Asia and Southern Europe. It is also known as the ‘Black Poplar’ mushroom. As such, it is recognized by its light brown cap and white stalks.
This delicate mushroom can make several savory dishes with this delicate mushroom. It has a mild, nutty flavor and goes well with rice and meat dishes.
And that’s it!
Twenty-four different types of mushrooms, some probably known to you and some that are a new discovery. We know that mushroom cultivation for food and medicinal purposes dates back centuries ago. Yet, we take a wholehearted interest in learning more about them.
And with these examples listed here, you can go ahead and experiment with cooking with a wide variety of delicious and healthy mushrooms. Stay away from the poisonous ones, and you should be fine.
Till next time, take care!