The onset of the damp, cool fall weather means that mushroom season is officially here! Even if you’re a mushroom master who’s perfected the art of selecting and incorporating our favorite fungi into a variety of delicious dishes, we have to admit the sheer number of traditional and wild mushrooms available at grocer like Heinen’s can be overwhelming.
From questions over taste and texture to understanding their ideal use in the kitchen, it can be challenging to know exactly what you’re getting into when you buy mushrooms. We’ve taken the guess work out of cooking with mushrooms with this simple guide to many of the mushrooms found at Heinen’s.
Button- Button mushrooms represent about 90% of the mushrooms sold in the United States. Generally the least expensive, the addition of these little white mushrooms adds contrast when cooking up a blend of more expensive mushroom varieties. They come in all sizes and are delicious raw or cooked.
Cremini or Baby Bella- A slightly, sturdier, darker version of the button mushroom, criminis have a more pronounced flavor. Use them skewered onto shish kebabs or roast them filled with crab and cheese as an appetizer.
Portobello- The steak of mushrooms, these large, flat, big-flavored mushrooms make a great vegetarian burger. Portobellos are grown up versions of cremini mushrooms, just a few days older and a whole lot more flavorful than their smaller siblings.
Shiitake- Mushrooms are very important in the cuisines of Asia and shiitake is one of the most popular. The stems must be pulled from the cap as they are too fibrous to eat. Their woodsy flavor is a tasty addition to stir fries, soups and rice and potato dishes. Dried shiitake are a flavor bomb of umami. Pair them with everything from fish to steak.
Morel- A spring mushroom, morels are most often found dried. They have a woodsy, smoky flavor that pairs well with soups, risottos and pastas, but they also elevate more common vegetables such as sautés of cabbage, potatoes, broccoli and asparagus.
Chanterelle- These vase-shaped fungi are sweet-smelling, fruity, nutty, and a little peppery. Their color depends on the species, and range from white or yellow to pink, or even reddish. Chanterelles are delicious sautéed lightly and added to pasta and risotto dishes where their delicate flavor can shine through.
Porcini- A wild mushroom, porcini are most often found dried. Prized for their rich flavor and texture, porcini can be soaked and re-hydrated or ground to a powder and added to recipes for a blast of mushroom flavor. They give an earthy kick to pizza, risotto, polenta, braises, stews and sauces.
Enoki- Sweet and tender, enoki mushrooms have a light, nutty, delicate flavor. Toss them in towards the end of cooking in stir fries or mushroom medleys where their shape and light crunch can be appreciated.
Oyster- Fan shaped, these mushrooms grow on rotted wood. Mild and peppery young oyster mushrooms are preferred. Use in sautés, soups and as an accompaniment to steaks.
Maitake- Means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese or hen of the woods (not to be confused with an entirely different orange and yellow edible mushroom called chicken of the woods), presumably because it looks like a ball of short gray feathers. In North America and Japan, maitake appear in the fall at the base of oak trees. Batter up maitake for a tempting tempura, throw it on a pizza, or mix it with other sautéed mushrooms for a savory pasta sauce or just cut into chunks and roast in olive oil.
Trumpet- Thick and stumpy with small flat caps, trumpet mushrooms are a member of the oyster mushroom species. Popular in Asian cooking, they hold up in stir fries, soups and tempura and can also be grilled or sautéed in butter. Trumpet mushrooms can remain fresh in the fridge longer than some varieties, up to a week.
Note: During the fall, it’s common to see wild mushrooms while on hikes, walks or even growing in your yard. Never eat these mushrooms, even if they look familiar, as they can be poisonous. Only eat mushrooms from trusted sources.