Wild About Mushrooms

Explore the wild–and the cultivated–world of mushrooms.

Springing up like magic, mushrooms come in so many varieties and can be prepared in countless ways.

A Shortlist of Mushrooms
Chanterelle

This trumpet-shaped wild mushroom has a delicate flavor and ranges in color from yellow to orange. Its meaty texture toughens up when overcooked. Peak season: summer and winter.

Chanterelle Risotto

Photo by LynnInHK

Enoki

Thin, brittle, and sweet, these are the delicate ballerinas of the mushroom world. Use raw in salads or briefly cooked in Asian dishes.

Morel

This cousin to the truffle sports honeycombed caps and has a rich, smoky flavor. Morels are can be found fresh in specialty markets from mid to late spring, but are more readily available dried.

Morel Mushroom Bisque

Photo by baconrogers

Oyster

Fan-shaped clusters of wild oyster mushrooms can be found on rotting tree trunks. Young oysters are preferred; their peppery flavor mellows when cooked. Look for them fresh or canned in Asian and specialty markets.

Grilled Oyster Mushrooms

Photo by Nicolette

Porcini

Rarely found fresh in United States markets, this earthy Italian beauty is even more potent when dried.

White Pizza with Porcinis

Photo by Cookin Up A Storm

Portobello

These huge, flat, deeply flavored mushrooms are a natural substitute for steaks and burgers on the grill. Widely available throughout the year.

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

Photo by Violet

Shiitake

Native to Japan and Korea, and cultivated in the United States. Their woodsy flavor intensifies when dried. Available fresh in spring and autumn.

Shiitake Scallopine

Photo by CookinBug

Straw

Tiny in stature with musty overtones. Available fresh in specialty and Asian markets, but most commonly found canned.

Truffle

One of the world’s most prized and costly foods. Comes in basic black or white. Specially trained pigs and dogs sniff out these aromatic treasures in regions of France, Italy, and–believe it or not–Oregon. You might find fresh truffles in specialty markets from late autumn to midwinter. Truffle-infused oil is available and more affordable.

Lentil Pate

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Popular Mushroom Recipes

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Photo by LynnInHK

VIDEO: All about Mushrooms
Find out all about the earthy ingredient that adds heartiness to all kinds of foods.

The Dirt on Mushrooms

  • Mushrooms are a high-fiber, low-fat source of protein and B vitamins.
  • There are thousands of mushroom varieties, but relatively few come to market.
  • Choose mushrooms that are dry and firm, and have closed caps.
  • Refrigerate fresh mushrooms in a paper bag for up to three days.
  • Clean fresh mushrooms just before cooking by wiping or brushing them; never drench them. Tough stems can be removed and saved for making stock.
  • Fresh mushrooms soak up and then release lots of moisture during cooking.
  • Cultivated mushrooms are easier to find in most markets than are their wild cousins. Wild mushrooms can often be found dried.
  • Dried wild mushrooms can be expensive, but their flavors are intense and they keep well for years in a dry cupboard.
  • Rehydrate dried mushrooms by soaking them in warm water for 30 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon. The remaining liquid can be strained and used to flavor soups and sauces.
  • Cook fresh mushrooms with a small amount of rehydrated wild mushrooms to amplify flavors.

Mushroom Myth & Magic
There’s a great deal of myth and magic with regards to mushrooms. Early Romans so revered them that a dinner guest knew where he stood from the quantity and variety of mushrooms on his plate. These days, markets are offering much more than the common white button mushroom.