Mushrooms

Is it just another Meatless Monday? It doesn’t have to be! Change it up with mushrooms, one of the best natural meat substitutes. Most mushrooms are available year-round, but many are in peak season during the fall and winter. Don’t just stick to your normal varieties this season. For most cooked recipes, you can switch out the type of mushroom you use without affecting the recipe; instead, you just give it a new, interesting flavor.

So if you’re a fan of mushrooms’ earthy tastes, be bold! Here’s a guide to help you experiment.

Button Mushroom

Flavor: It’s excellent to eat raw, but its flavor intensifies when cooked. These are one of the most widely available, so it’s likely the type you pick up when a recipe simply calls for mushrooms without specifying further.

Cooking Tip: Look for button mushrooms with an even color and tightly-closed caps.

Chanterelle

Flavor: Their nutty and delicate flavor and texture make them a great addition to salads, sauces, and risottos.

Cooking Tip: When you’re at the store, look for mushrooms with a golden or apricot color and no dark parts, and give it a sniff. They should have a nice fragrant smell. When you bring them home, be careful not to overcook them to avoid toughening.

Crimini

Flavor: These mushrooms have an intense rich and earthy flavor.

Cooking Tip: Have a recipe that calls for button mushrooms but want a more full-bodied flavor? Crimini is the way to go. If you’re serving these mushrooms raw, sprinkle on a little vinegar or lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.

Enoki

Flavor: These delicate mushrooms have a sweet, fruity flavor and a crisp texture, and they are often used raw in sandwiches, salads, and garnishes.

Cooking Tip: Avoid brown or slimy stalks when purchasing them at the store. If you are going to cook them, do so quickly because overcooking can lead to a rough texture.

Morel

Flavor: Butter helps bring out this mushroom’s smoky and nutty taste.

Cooking Tip: The darker the mushroom, the more intense the flavor. Just before you’re ready to cook, put the morels in a colander and shake away any loose dirt. Then rinse them well, but don’t let them sit in water for too long as it can remove some of the flavor. When you’re ready to cook, keep those stems on; they’re delicious!

Oyster

Flavor: These fan-shaped mushrooms have a peppery flavor. Raw oyster mushrooms are often added to salads, but you can also cook them to bring out a more delicate flavor and texture.

Cooking Tips: These are great in stir-fried dishes since they cook quickly. If you are using them in a dish with a long cooking time, add them last so they don’t overcook. You can also heat them briefly in butter and add them to cream sauces for added flavor.

Porcini

Flavor: With a smooth, meaty texture and a pungent flavor, these tasty treats are even more potent when dried.

Cooking Tip: This mushroom is wonderful additional to Italian cooking. Try adding it to your favorite risotto, pasta, sauce, soup, casserole, or stuffing.

Portobello

Flavor: Theses large mushrooms have a deep, meat-like flavor.

Cooking Tip: These mushrooms are a perfect substitute for steaks and burgers on the grill. Select firm portobellos with an earthy smell, and since they are so large, they’re easy to stuff!

Shiitake

Flavor: These mushrooms have a full-bodied flavor that is often compared to steak, and they also have a meaty texture when cooked.

Cooking Tip: Sautéing, broiling, baking and grilling are recommended cooking methods, and if you’re looking for a woodsy flavor, try the dried variety. The stems of the shiitake mushroom are also wonderful for soup stocks.

Truffle

Flavor: These mushrooms have a wonderful aroma that contributes to its unique taste.

Cooking Tip: Fresh truffles are often available at farmers markets during late fall or early winter. Use them immediately to take full advantage of their flavor. To keep your cost down but still enjoy this yummy treat, try truffle-infused oils.

Now that you’re armed with mushroom knowledge, take the plunge with these organically delicious recipes!

Grilled Shitake Mushrooms
Vegetarian Chili
Wild Mushroom and Black Truffle Organic Risotto
Grass-Fed Bison Chili with Shiitake Mushrooms

Photo Credit – Little Blue Hen