There are more than 2,500 mushroom varieties grown in the world today. Fresh gourmet mushrooms offer a veritable palette of distinct flavors and textures to draw upon.
A variety to choose from
Portabellas (Portobellos), Shiitakes, Criminis and White mushrooms are the most commonly used cultivated varieties, but the more exotic mushrooms -- Morels, Oyster mushrooms, Beech mushrooms, Enokis and Maitakes -- are becoming increasingly popular.
Description/flavor: Beech mushrooms are petite with either all white or light brown caps. The Beech has a crunchy texture offering a delicately mild flavor that is sweet and deliciously nutty.
Shelf life: Beech mushrooms last seven to 10 days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Cook whole or slice into sauces to compliment chicken or fish dishes. Great with vegetables and in stir fry. Add to soups, stews or sauces as a last ingredient to maintain crisp texture.
Description/flavor: Crimini mushrooms (shown at right) are similar in appearance to the Whites because they come from the same family (Agaricus). Look for a naturally light tan to rich brown cap and a very firm texture. Deeper, denser, earthier flavor than White mushrooms.
Shelf life: Criminis should remain fresh for five to seven days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Substitute for, or use in combination with, any recipe calling for White mushrooms. Hearty, full-bodied taste makes an excellent addition to beef, wild game and vegetable dishes.
Description/flavor: Fragile, flower-like with long, slender stems and tiny caps, Enoki mushrooms grow in small clusters. They have a mild, light flavor with a slight crunch.
Shelf life: Enokis last for up to 14 days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Use raw in salads and sandwiches. Use as a garnish for soups and salads.
Special note: Follow handling instructions. Before using, trim roots at cluster base. Separate stems before serving.
(Hen of the Woods)
Description/flavor: Maitakes (shown at left) are described by a cluster of dark fronds with firm and supple texture at base, becoming slightly brittle and crumbly at the edges. Maitake mushrooms have a distinctive aroma with a rich, woodsy taste.
Shelf life:Maitakes usually last seven to 10 days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Sautï¿½ lightly in butter or oil. Adds richer taste to any cooked recipe calling for mushrooms.Goes well as main dish ingredient, in side dishes and soups.
Description/flavor: Morel mushrooms have short, thick, hollow stems, topped with sponge-like pointed caps, resembling honeycombs. Morels may be tan, yellow or black in color and produce a rich, nut-like flavor and woodsy fragrance.
Shelf life:Morels last 10-14 days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Morels are typically cooked and adapt well to most types of cooking. Petite sizes are favored for gourmet sauces and soups. Medium and large sizes are the standard for French cuisine. Jumbos may be stuffed with sausage or crabmeat for a unique and delicious appetizer.
Description/flavor: Fluted and graceful, Oyster mushrooms range in color from soft brown to gray. They are best if cooked. Oyster mushrooms have a delicate, mild flavor and velvety texture.
Shelf life: Oysters should remain fresh five to seven days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Substitute for or in combination with cooked white mushrooms. Delicate flavor is excellent in chicken, veal, pork and seafood dishes. Sautï¿½ing with butter and onions brings out full flavor. Add to soups and sauces.
Description/flavor: Impressive in size and appearance, the Portabella mushroom (shown at right) is a larger, hardier relative of the White and Crimini and can range up to 6 inches in diameter. Portabellas have a longer growing cycle than Whites and Criminis resulting in a deep, meat-like texture and flavor.
Shelf life: Portabellas should hold seven to 10 days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Serve whole or sliced, grilled, baked or deep fried. Excellent stuffed as an appetizer, side dish or entree. Add to stir frys, sautï¿½s and sauces. A great substitute for meat in a sandwich or entree. Use as a meat alternative in a vegetarian entree.
(Oak, Chinese or Black Forest)
Description/flavor: Shiitakes range in color from tan to dark brown with broad, umbrella-shaped caps, wide open veils and tan gills. Shiitake caps have a soft, spongy texture. When cooked, Shiitake mushrooms are rich and woodsy with a meaty texture.
Shelf life: Shiitakes can last for up to 14 days. Keep refrigerated in porous paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Shiitakes are best if cooked and adapt well to most cooking techniques. They add a meaty flavor and texture to stir frys, pastas, soups, entrees and side dishes.
Special note: Follow handling instructions. Before using tear off and discard tough woody stem. Discarded stems can be used to flavor stocks.
Description/flavor: White mushrooms (shown at left) vary in color from creamy white to light brown and in sizes from small (button) to jumbo. They are pleasingly mild and woodsy; their flavor intensifies when cooked. Freshly picked White mushrooms have closed veils (caps that fit closely to the stem) and delicate flavor; mature Whites, with open veils and darkened caps, develop a richer, deeper taste.
Shelf life: White mushrooms remain fresh five to seven days. Keep refrigerated in paper bags.
Serving suggestions: Use raw as an hors d'oeuvre, or garnish in salads and on vegetable trays. Sautï¿½, braise or grill to enhance entrees, soups, sauces and stuffings. Marinate or sautï¿½ and serve as a side dish. Stuff with just about anything for a classic, easy to eat appetizer.