The rich, succulent umami flavors of mushrooms turn any meal into a world of comfort. With so many different varieties, you don’t have to choose the same type of mushroom for every dish. Each of these little guys has its own flavor and texture personality.
In general, when selecting mushrooms, look for specimens that are fresh, firm and dry. Soggy or spongy mushrooms may be on the way out. You should also avoid mushrooms with bruises or spots. If they have gills, as in the case of button mushrooms, the gills should be closed tightly.
When you get them home, store all but morels unwashed in either their original packaging or something that lets them breathe, like a paper bag (never plastic). They can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.
Contrary to myth, you can clean mushrooms with water without making them soggy. Cut off a thin slice of the stem end, and then rinse in cool water to remove any dirt or insects. Alternatively you can use a damp paper towel to remove any dirt and debris.
Safety of raw mushrooms
Some people fear eating raw mushrooms because they believe them to be toxic. While mushrooms do contain a small amount of a toxin called agaritine, it’s only toxic if you eat a large quantity of it. Heating and refrigerating mushrooms break down the toxin. Even so, eating moderate quantities of raw mushrooms purchased from the grocery store is perfectly safe for most people.
Those featured here are just the most common among home cooks and restaurant chefs in the U.S. There are thousands of types of delicious mushrooms, and all are worth a try.
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