How to cook mushrooms: from cremini to shitake

“Mushrooms are recyclers,” said Olga Katic, owner of Mushroom Mountain, a South Carolina mushroom farm and education center. They can grow on natural byproducts, such as corn husks, wood chips, sawdust, seed hulls — and, yes, manure — that would otherwise be thrown away.

Mushrooms are also a sustainable crop because they don’t need a lot of resources to thrive. “They really don’t need a lot of water and don’t need a lot of space either,” Katic said. It only takes 2 gallons of water to grow one pound of mushrooms, compared to about 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.
Because mushrooms can be grown indoors, no farmland is needed for crop production. One acre of space can produce 1 million mushrooms per year, according to the American Mushroom Institute. Additionally, mushrooms emit very little carbon dioxide as they grow – less than 1 pound per pound of mushrooms.

Beyond their benefits for the environment, mushrooms are also excellent for our body. They are a healthy source of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, while being low in fat, cholesterol and calories.

According to studies, mushrooms can be a powerful source of vitamin D that can be “powered up” by sunlight. “If you get mushrooms from the store and expose their gills — the feathery ribs on the underside of the mushroom’s cap — to sunlight, their vitamin D content increases,” Katic said.

“They contain so many interesting compounds,” Katic added, including selenium, potassium and beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that may help fight heart disease and lower cholesterol.

The earthy, savory taste of mushrooms makes them a versatile and delicious ingredient in many dishes. So get cozy with mushrooms this fall and explore the many common varieties – both wild and cultivated – you’ll find in your local markets with these recipes and cooking ideas.

But before you start, clean your mushrooms. It’s a common misconception that you can’t use water to clean mushrooms. Although they themselves have a high water content, food scientists have shown that mushrooms do not absorb much water when rinsed or even soaked.

Save time in the kitchen and stop wiping individual mushrooms. Instead, rinse the stem mushrooms in a colander or strainer, then carefully transfer them to a cotton (not terry) dish towel. Gently roll the towel to dry the mushrooms, then slice or trim them as needed for the recipe you are making.

Immerse yourself in the vast world of mushrooms

Button mushrooms and cremini mushrooms are the most common varieties you’ll see at the grocery store: both are round and about the size of a ping-pong ball with a mild flavor. They’re easy to slice and sauté, taking on flavors that complement many recipes.

Button mushrooms are the baby of the mushroom species Agaricus bisporus – the most common mushroom – and are the first to be harvested. Cremini mushrooms grow a bit longer, so they take on a brown color and have a bit more flavor.

If you’re not sure which variety of mushrooms to buy and use for your meals, start with these because they’ll go with everything. Make simple sautéed mushrooms that can be added to pasta, served over polenta or risotto, or used as a topping for bruschetta.
These varieties are also suitable for classic rib dishes like mushroom bourguignon or beef stew.

Whether spelled portobello or portabella, the mushrooms are the same. These mushrooms are the mature, adult version of the cremini mushroom and have a more earthy flavor. (You’ll often see cremini mushrooms called “baby bella” mushrooms because they’re the immature version.)

Portabello mushroom caps can be stuffed with a wide variety of ingredients.
Sliced ​​portobello mushrooms take up a lot of space to cook, so they’re ideal candidates for a baking sheet, where they can caramelize and char around the edges. Try them in mushroom fajitas or as a main course in teriyaki mushroom rice bowls.

Whole portobello caps can be grilled like steaks or stuffed with almost any combination of ingredients you fancy, whether it’s spinach and cheese, veggies and quinoa, or pizza toppings.

Shiitake mushrooms have a bouncy, chewy texture and can withstand high-heat cooking methods like roasting or broiling. Marinate and toss whole shiitake caps on the grill or roast them in slices for crispy golden edges.

Seared or sautéed shiitake mushrooms retain their meaty texture in skillet recipes like this dish of shrimp, shiitake and kale or coconut curry with soba noodles.
Sign up for CNN’s Eat, But Better: Mediterranean Style. Our eight-part guide shows you a delicious, expert-backed food lifestyle that will improve your health for life.
Maitake mushrooms, also called hen of the woods, look like feathery petals growing on a thick, trunk-like stalk. Remove the beige petal-shaped caps from the stem for cooking and save the stem for homemade mushroom stock.
Due to their shape, maitake caps can be both plump on the thicker end of the stem and delicately silky on their ruffled edges. Use this to your advantage and roast the maitakes in the oven or air fry them to crisp the edges, using the same method as the cauliflower florets. For the ultimate crispy mushroom appetizer, make breaded and fried maitakes in the air fryer, air fryer or oven.
This decadent dish highlights the famous black truffle
Oyster mushrooms come in two different sizes: there are smaller oyster mushrooms, which grow in clusters similar to maitake, and the larger king oyster, a thick-stemmed mushroom also known as king trumpet. Use the small oyster mushrooms, which have a chewy texture and mild flavor, just like you would maitakes. They are also great for soaking up sauces in stir-fry dishes.

King oyster mushrooms are incredibly firm, making them a vegetarian’s best friend for creating many meat and seafood alternatives.

Cut them horizontally into pieces and make vegan scallops or calamari with mushrooms. Cut them lengthwise into planks and make BBQ mushroom bacon. Or shred the mushroom stems — unlike most of the other varieties mentioned here, you’ll want to eat the oyster mushroom stems — and make vegetarian “pulled pork.”
Enoki mushrooms are thin and thin, with a tender texture similar to al dente noodles. Like oyster mushrooms, their long stalks are the main event. Try them simply steamed and tossed with a spicy garlic sauce or as a component in mushroom and boy choy ramen or other noodle dishes. When pan-fried, enoki mushrooms also turn into crispy strings to make a vegetarian substitute for shredded pork carnitas.