can add an abundance of flavor to various dishes. While button
mushroom are wonderful for their texture, mild flavor and availability,
there are many other mushrooms that are richer and more distinct
in flavor. Today, many grocery stores offer a wide variety of
mushrooms from shiitakes and portobellas to porcinis
the Perfect Mushrooms:
quality, fresh mushrooms is very important to maintain the integrity
of the dish you are preparing. Choose mushrooms that are heavy
for their size, firm in texture and nice dry caps and stems. You
want to avoid anything that is shriveled or damp or has dark or
soft spots. Mushrooms with open gills are more mature and should
be eaten as soon as possible. You will find that your more exotic
mushrooms can be rather costly, so if you would like to impart
the flavor of a particular mushroom and still hold your costs
down, try using only a couple of the exotic mushrooms and fill
in the remainder with a less costly button mushroom.
Types of Mushrooms:
Button Mushrooms: These mushrooms are probably the most common
mushroom readily available at your market. They are rounded and
plump and very mild. Choose only those with closed caps. Available:
These are also referred to as Italian browns. They are very similar
to white button mushrooms except they are typically larger, light
brown in color and a little more flavorful. Available: Year-round
These mushrooms look very much like large button mushrooms with
reddish caps and thick stems. These are very flavorful mushrooms,
delicious in sauces, risotto, or even grilled. Availability: Late
spring and early fall
Chanterelles resemble small trumpets. They are gold or orange-brown
in color with slender stems and have a delicate earthy flavor.
These are wonderful in cream sauces, perfectly paired with pastas,
poultry, or polenta. Availability: Fall
These are white to buff color and are long, slender stalk-like
mushrooms. They are slightly sweet and make a wonderful accompaniment
to salads, soups, and Asian dishes. Availability: Year-round
Morels are small dark brown, conical with rather sponge-like caps.
Make sure that you wash these very well. The sponge-like caps
can sometimes harbor sand and dirt which will drastically compromise
your sauces. Availability: Early Spring
Mushrooms: These mushrooms grow in clusters and are usually
cream colored with small fan-shaped caps. Their texture is very
smooth and their flavor has a hint of the sea. Availability: Year-round
These mushrooms are very large in size (up to 6 inches wide).
They are very rich in flavor. Because of their size and open gills
they work wonderfully on the grill or under the broiler. Availability:
Shiitakes have a parasol shaped cap, are light brown in color
and have an earthy flavor. They have rather tough stems that are
usually cut and discarded before cooking. These are often grilled
or sautéed and sometimes you will find them dried. Availability:
Truffles are ball shaped and are black or white in color. They
are great sautéed or used in sauces. You may also find
truffle-flavored oil which can be used to enhance the flavor without
using the actual mushroom. Availability: Black Truffles
Fall, White Truffles Spring into Summer
Mushrooms: These have a deep red and mottled color. They are
typically sautéed or used in some sauces. Availability:
word to the wise. There are a number of poisonous mushrooms that
grow wild that resemble many of the common edible mushrooms. Take
the time to study up on mushrooms or have an experienced forager
accompany you before you decide to go on a wild mushroom hunt.
best way to store mushrooms is to wrap them, unwashed in a loose
mushrooms by simply wiping them with a damp cloth or a soft brush.
Never soak mushrooms since they will absorb the water.
a recipe will call for the use of dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms
tend to have a more concentrated flavor and are great when used
in soups, sauces or stews. To hydrate the mushrooms, simply soak
in warm water until softened for about 15 minutes.