Friday, January 12, 2007

Mushroom Varieties

Mushroom Varieties

Big ones, small ones, white ones, brown ones, look at all the different varieties of mushrooms. With over 38,000 varieties of mushrooms around the world, mushrooms are becoming ever more popular in not only a restaurant setting but in the home setting as well. They have become more interesting and easier to cook with because of growing recipe databases, and websites devoted to mushrooms (like this one).

But how to know which mushroom is which? This is one question that people still may not know how to answer. Well today I am going to explain it to you. Let’s talk about the 6 main varieties of mushrooms that are not only sold, but grown here in Canada.

White Mushrooms
Now we have all either seen or used these ones. They are the most popular mushroom in Canada.
Name: Agaricus Bisporus
Description: White mushrooms come in petite, large, stuffer and griller.
Taste: The mildest tasting mushroom out of the bunch. The taste does become stronger with cooking.
Uses: Can be used with almost anything; it is so versatile. Serve in soups, salads, appetizers, and entrées.

Crimini Mushrooms
Very similar to the white mushrooms, only brown.
Name: Agaricus Bisporus
Description: Range in colour from brown to tan.
Taste: Slightly stronger taste than the white. You can definitely taste the UMAMI when they are cooked.
Uses: Can be used in any way a white mushroom can, they are interchangeable. Raw, cooked, microwaved, or stir fried; crimini mushrooms go great with meat or vegetarian dishes.

Portabella Mushrooms
The really big brown ones. My personal favourite. These are actually fully grown crimini mushrooms.
Name: Agaricus Bisporus
Description: Range in colour from brown to tan. Caps can range from 2 inches to 5 inches wide.
Taste: Very meaty texture with a strong mushroom taste. They are often called the vegetarians steak, because they have the similar taste and texture as meat.
Uses: These big guys can be a meal in themselves. Grill them, bake them, eat them as a portabella pizza. They are a healthier alternative to meat; lower fat, carbs, sodium, and carbs. Just Wonderful.

Shiitake Mushrooms
In Asian cultures these mushrooms are used for medical pruposes as they posses many healing powers.
Name: Lentinus Edodes
Description: Shiitakes have a light tan to dark brown cap. The gills are light tan.
Taste: They are very soft and kind of spongy. Have a very meaty taste.
Uses: Often used in stir-fries and pasta dishes. Have a great UMAMI taste and enhance the other flavours of dishes it is served with. Try a shiitake sauce on your steak or veal, mouth watering.

Oyster Mushrooms
They get their name because they have a slight oyster fishy smell, especially the pink oysters.
Name: Pleurotus Ostreatus
Description: Come in several different colours including white, brown, black, yellow, grey and pink. Have very soft gills running up the short off-centre stem.
Taste: They have a very mild taste and a delicate texture.
Uses: They can be eaten raw or cooked. Its texture is a great complement to pork, chicken, and seafood.

Enoki Mushrooms
Name: Flammulina Veluptipes
Description: Long tiny stems with little white caps. Looks like a bean sprout wearing a mushroom cap.
Taste: Very mild taste, with a good crunch.
Uses: They are best when they are eaten raw on salads or soups. Also good in stir-fries as long as they are put in at the last minutes; so they stay crunchy.

Next time you are in the grocery store and walk by the mushroom counter you will know what you are looking at, what it tastes like and what to cook it with. So grab some, be adventurous, try some mushrooms. They are nutritious, delicious and surprisingly easy to cook with.

More great information can be found at

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