There are so many mushroom types and endless ways you can cook them. We’re here to talk about the most popular ones. Some of them are wild species, but most of the following are cultivated mushrooms. But all are amazingly tasty and I’ll tell you their best uses in the kitchen.
If I’m ever going to write a children’s book, I think my characters will be mushrooms. They have personality, they come in different shapes, they’re amazingly cute and I do feel attached to some of them. Let me explain. Everything started – of course! – in my childhood, when I used to take long walks on the field behind my house after rainfall. Some of the treasures I would find at that time were wild mushrooms and eggs. It was such a joy to come home with my top folded like a bag, full of chanterelle or other wild mushrooms, like fairy ring mushrooms or honey mushrooms. Sometimes I was so lucky that I even found wild morels, one of the most desired wild mushrooms in the world! This could even be the beginning of my mushroom storybook.
Even if you don’t have a place of your own to pick wild mushrooms, you can enjoy many of them, because mushrooms are cultivated in at least 60 countries. China, Italy, the United States, Netherlands, and Poland are the top five producers.
Mushrooms are high in fiber and vitamins. They’re very versatile and a good source of protein for vegetarians. With so many types of mushrooms, the recipes are endless. Here are the most common 10 mushrooms and some of their characteristics.
10 of the most common mushroom types
1. White button mushroom
Also known as: able mushroom, cultivated mushroom, button, table mushroom, and champignon mushroom.
Agaricus bisporus is an edible mushroom which has two color states while immature – white and brown – both of which have various names. When mature, it is known as portobello mushroom.
White button mushroom is the immature and white variety. It’s the most common and mildest-tasting from all the mushroom types.
90 percent of the mushrooms we eat are of this variety. Its flavor is mild, and that makes it more versatile. It can be eaten either raw or cooked and works well in soups, stews, salads, and on pizzas.
2. Crimini mushroom
Also known as: when immature and brown, Agaricus bisporus may be known as Cremino mushroom, Swiss brown mushroom, Roman brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom, classic brown mushroom, or chestnut mushroom.
Criminis are young portobello mushrooms, also sold as baby portobellos, and they’re just more mature white button mushrooms. Crimini and white button mushrooms are interchangeable. They are similar in shape, but may be slightly bigger in size and darker in color: crimini have a light shade of brown.
3. Portobello mushroom
Also known as: field mushroom, or open cap mushroom.
Mushrooms of this variety are as wide as the palm of your hand. Portobello mushrooms are dense in texture and have a rich taste. In Italy, they’re used in sauces and pasta and make a great meat substitute. Also, if you want a bread bun-substitute, you can even use the mushroom’s flat cap. They’re perfect for grilling and stuffing.
4. Shiitake mushroom
Also known as: Shitake, black forest, black winter, brown oak, Chinese black, black mushroom, oriental black, forest mushroom, golden oak, Donko.
Shiitake are mushrooms that grow mainly in Japan, China, and Korea, which is one of the reasons they are so predominant in Asian cuisine. In Japanese, shiitake means ‘oak fungus,’ but these days most shiitakes are cultivated. They have a light woodsy flavor and aroma, while their dried counterparts are more intense. They are savory and meaty and can be used to top meat dishes and to enhance soups and sauces. Shiitake can be found both fresh and dried.
5. Oyster mushroom
Also known as: Pleurotus, tree oyster, angel’s wings, pleurotte en huître, abalone mushroom.
Oyster mushrooms are a species of Pleurotus and they can be found in the wild, growing on the sides of trees. Nowadays they’re some of the most commonly cultivated edible mushrooms in the world. The king trumpet mushroom is the largest species in the oyster mushroom genus.
They are simple to cook and offer a delicate and sweet flavor. They’re used especially in a stir-fry or sauté because they are consistently thin, and so will cook more evenly than other mushrooms.