Few fresh products are as revered in the culinary world as much as mushrooms, known for their wide range of tasty flavors and interesting textures.
White (Agaricus ) - The most widely available fresh mushrooms, whites are mild in flavor, smooth and round in appearance, creamy white to beige in color and come in various sizes from button to jumbo. When small they have closed "veils" (gills are covered on the underside of the mushrooms); larger mushrooms may have open veils. White mushrooms may be eaten raw and can add excitement to soups, salads, sauces, sandwiches, main dishes and more.
Crimini - This rich brown variety is sometimes referred to as "Italian" or "Brown" mushrooms. Criminis are related to the white mushroom and may be used in all the same ways. They are earthier and more intense in flavor than their cousins.
Portabella - A larger relative of the white and Crimini mushroom, Portabellas are allowed to mature longer than their smaller relatives and can grow to 6 inches across the top. When freshly harvested, they are a light tan with slightly rough, rounded caps. They can be used in the same ways as white and Criminis, however, their size, meaty flavor and texture make them an excellent choice for grilling and sautéing whole or in thick slices.
Shiitake - These tan to dark brown mushrooms are also called "Oak", "Chinese" or "Black Forest" mushrooms. They have umbrella-shaped caps, open veils and tan gills. They are woodsy in flavor and best when thoroughly cooked. The stems tend to be woody and should be removed before cooking, however they can be added to stocks for flavor intensity.
Oyster - Named for their oyster-shell shape, these delicate velvety mushrooms come in shades of beige, yellow, cream and gray. Because they are more fragile than most other mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms should be used shortly after purchase and added to dishes at the end of the cooking time.
Enoki - You will find these creamy-white miniature mushrooms in the market packaged in clusters. They are mild in flavor, slightly crisp in texture and very easy to use. Just trim off the base and add the raw caps and stems to salads and sandwiches or arrange as a garnish on cooked foods. To retain their crisp texture, they should not be heated.
Care & Handling
Cultivated fresh mushrooms are in good supply year round. Look for firm, unblemished caps. The mushroom's surface should be free from moisture but not look dry. Avoid mushrooms with any sign of mold.
Always refrigerate mushrooms. Loose mushrooms keep well in paper bags in the refrigerator. Avoid airtight plastic bags because they will retain moisture and speed spoilage. Properly stored, fresh mushrooms will keep for five days or longer.
Don't clean mushrooms until you are ready to use them. To remove any bits of the peat moss in which they were grown, rinse quickly with cold running water or wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, paper towel or soft brush.
Nutrition & Health Benefits:
Mushrooms pack quite a nutritional punch! They are low in calories, but also contain a substantial amount of B vitamins, selenium, copper, and other trace minerals. Mushrooms are a good source of potassium, with a 3-ounce Portabella mushroom cap providing more potassium than a banana or an orange.