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Common Edible Mushrooms — A Brief Guide

Common Edible Mushrooms — A Brief Guide

We write about many types of mushrooms here at Mushroomsite.com. This post is a brief guide to the common edible mushrooms that we write about.  We will add to this post as we cover new mushrooms so that you have a convenient place to check mushroom definitions.

A Brief Guide to Common Edible Mushrooms

There is nothing quite like the earthy taste of a well-prepared mushroom. If you’re new to mushrooms, you may be wondering which mushrooms are best to cook with what dish. How do you know what mushroom can hold up well in a soup, or on the grill?

Which mushrooms aren’t good to cook with but have medicinal qualities?

Read on– this helpful guide to common mushrooms breaks down some of the more common types of edible mushrooms.

White Button

These are probably the most common cooking mushrooms in the United States. Found in grocery stores and many takeout meals, some people criticize white button mushrooms as being soft and bland.

Edible Mushrooms -- White Mushrooms

When prepared correctly, however, these high-protein mushrooms are crisp and flavorful. The secret to crisp white button mushrooms? Don’t wash them before cooking.  Just wipe them off with a damp paper towel. Saute them briefly with some butter or oil, then add them to a dish, or eat them on their own.

Cremini

Cremini mushrooms are the same exact mushrooms as White Buttons, but they have aged a bit longer. They have a similar flavor, but their texture is slightly firmer.

Cremini Mushrooms

Creminis are delicious in soups and stews, casseroles, and other dishes with a high liquid content.

Portabella

Portabellas are more mature versions of the regular White Buttons and Cremini mushrooms.

portabella mushrooms

Portabellas have a meaty texture and are great as a meat substitute;  grilled, they make an excellent veggie burger.  You can also saute them, stuff them, add them to a stir fry, or toss them into a pasta sauce.

Portabellas are rich in Vitamins B and D.

Oyster

Oyster mushrooms are one of the most common types of cultivated mushrooms in the world

Oyster Mushroom Kits: How to Grow Mushrooms at Home

Also known as pearl oyster mushrooms or tree oyster mushrooms, these mushrooms grow on and near trees warm climate forests.

Oyster mushrooms are especially popular in Asian cooking. You can find them in Asian markets and even in some specialty gourmet markets.  They can be dried and people usually cook them before eating.

They are very easy to grow at home and hence are a popular grow-your-own-mushroom choice.

Morel

Morels grow in wooded areas. They especially like growing near dying hardwood trees like oaks and elms. They are a fun species to hunt for and they are delicious to eat.

A Serving of Morels

Morels are expensive, so many people prefer to find their own.   We must advise you to be careful, as there are poisonous mushrooms called False Morels that are similar in appearance to the morel. Be sure to hunt for them with an experienced mushroom forager.

Morels have a wonderful earthy flavor. They are also rich in nutrients.  Try sauteing them in olive oil with some heavy cream or a bit of white wine.

Shiitake

High in vital nutrients and antioxidants, shiitake mushrooms are delicious, especially in soups and in stir-fried dishes.

Edible Shitake Mushrooms

Shiitakes can be purchased dried or fresh. You can add dried ones directly to a dish, or you can soak them first until they are soft, before adding them. If you are cooking fresh shiitakes, be sure to remove the hard stems.  You can then saute the mushrooms and add them to your meal.

Reishi

The Reishi mushroom (known in China as Lingzhi) has a long list of healthful benefits. Found mainly in Asia and in Asian markets outside of Asia, Reishi mushrooms can be eaten cooked, taken as a supplement, or ground into a powder and added to a smoothie or some other drink.  Many people like to steep them in hot water to make a tea.

Reishi Lingzhi Mushrooms Growing on a Tree

Reishi mushrooms are highly esteemed in Chinese herbology and are said to aid with sleep, fight cancer, enhance your immune system, help regulate your blood sugar, and to combat allergies.

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane mushrooms have many possible benefits. Research suggests that they help with digestion, ward off depression, fight cancer, improve your immune system, and even protect your brain.

Lion's Mane Mushroom on a Tree

Lion’s Mane mushrooms can be bitter, and taste best when thoroughly baked or sauteed.  You can also add them to drinks in powder form (we like to add them to our coffee).  You can even take them as supplements.

Chaga

Chaga is a parasitic fungus that grows on the bark of birch trees in colder Northern climates.  They are one of the uglier mushrooms out there, looking like a clump of burnt wood. But they are packed with health benefits and have been used as a traditional medicine in Russia and Scandinavia for centuries.

Medicinal Chaga Mushroom

Chaga is bitter and not good for cooking.  Traditionally Chagas were ground into a powder which was made into a tea, but nowadays it is also sold in capsules as a supplement.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a rather ugly parasitic fungus that grows on the backs of insects.  Sounds pretty unappetizing, right?

Parasitic Cordyceps Mushrooms -- Parasitic

As unappetizing as they sound, they are thought to have significant health benefits in Asia where dried cordyceps have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat many ailments, including fatigue, kidney disease, and low sex drive.

Common Edible Mushrooms — Conclusion

We hope that this list helps you to explore different mushrooms that you haven’t tried before.  We write about the benefits of these mushrooms and how to grow them in several of our blog posts.

If you would like to learn some new ways to cook mushrooms, these cookbooks are a great place to start.

Mushrooms: Deeply Delicious Recipes, From Soups and Salads to Pasta and Pies — This cookbook has all kinds of mushroom recipes, with many vegetarian options.

The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms — This cookbook will show you how to cook all kinds of mushrooms, both wild and store-bought.

Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health —  If you’re interested in the medicinal and healing properties of mushrooms, you will find this cookbook to be useful.

 

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