A Guide to Mushroom Varieties Slideshow

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Oyster Mushroom

 

The oyster mushroomis named as such for its oyster-shaped cap.  They grow in clusters on the stumps of dead trees and may or may not grow stems.  As their popularity grows so does their availability.  They are a whitish color with a strong aroma and a mild flavor. 

These are delicious when simply sautéed and the edges are crisped or as part of a gratin.

Trim off any woody stems and cook up the shell-shaped caps. 

Morel Mushrooms

 

Morels with their distinguishable hollow stems and pitted cone-shaped cap are highly sought after.  Morels are a seasonal mushroom and grow wild and cannot be cultivated successfully.  Be sure to trim off the woody bottoms when using these fresh. Morels like many mushrooms, have a more intense flavor when dried and then rehydrated. It’s great to have some of these on-hand year round.

Chantarelle Mushrooms

 

Chantarelle mushrooms grow wild deep in the forests primarily of North America and Nothern Europe.  Available from summer through fall these highly coveted mushrooms have a convex vase-like shape and often in beautiful yellow to orange hues adding just the right hit of color to any dish.  Fresh chantarelles will last up to 10 days if refrigerated.

Porcini mushrooms

 

Porcini mushrooms, also known as ceps or Bolete mushrooms are highly prized throughout most of Europe and are easily recognized by their thick edible stems.  Simply trim the bottom of the stems and slice them up.  They can be eaten raw but really shine when cooked.  Porcini, meaning “piglet” in Italian, have a hearty nutty flavor when fresh and are often used in their dry form to add depth to sauces and soups.

Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

 

Hen of the Woods (aka Maitake) mushrooms, know well in Japan and China, have gained recognition in the U.S. only in the last 20 years.  They are recognized by the dense layers of caps and do not have gills.  Maitakes are used in traditional eastern medicine and are rich in minerals and nutrients.  They have a naturally smoky flavor and make a nice addition to any number of dishes calling for mushrooms.

Chicken of the Woods mushroom

 

Chicken of the Woods also grows in clusters of layered caps like the Maitake, but is completely different in every other way.  The ruffle edged caps are yellow-orange and the flavor has been described as lemony or a bit like crab.  Try these as an addition to a mushroom mix to layer in another unique flavor.

Enoki mushrooms

 

Enoki mushrooms are very fun to cook and fun to eat.  With its subtle flavor they make a wonderful addition tossed raw into salads or in Asian soups.  Enoki mushrooms usually sold in plastic containers  will hold up to a week refrigerated in its original packaging.

White Truffles

 

Truffles are without a doubt the most unique of all mushrooms.  They are the fruiting body of an underground mushroom.  They can be cultivated however the wild black truffles are the most prized, often uncovered with the help of special truffle-hunting dogs that can sniff out their pungent earthy aroma.  They come in other colors, though the white truffle is the most common besides black.  These are also known as Spring truffles and are milder in both flavor and aroma.  The best way to eat fresh truffles is very thinly sliced over scrambled eggs or simple pasta pasta or risotto preparations.

Black Truffles

 

Truffles are without a doubt the most unique of all mushrooms.  They are the fruiting body of an underground mushroom.  They can be cultivated however the wild black truffles are the most prized, often uncovered with the help of special truffle-hunting dogs that can sniff out their pungent earthy aroma.  They come in other colors, though the white truffle is the most common besides black.  These are also known as Spring truffles and are milder in both flavor and aroma.  The best way to eat fresh truffles is very thinly sliced over scrambled eggs or simple pasta pasta or risotto preparations.