Types of Mushrooms: Learning Your Shrooms

Posted on Mar 29 2013 - 2:41pm by Demelza Young

When you hear the word “mushroom,” what do you think of?  Likely, you picture the white mushrooms you often see at the grocery store, and indeed they are the most commonly found.  However, the world of fungi goes beyond the stereotypical white variety.  Whether you’re looking for a burger replacement for one of your vegetarian friends, or a delicious addition to your family night stir-fry, there is an array of mushrooms to meet your needs.

White Mushrooms.

white mushrooms

White mushrooms are the most readily found type of mushroom and are available either fresh, canned, or dried. Ranging from very small (“button”) to jumbo sizes, they have many different uses.  Smaller mushrooms have the mildest flavor while the larger ones are good for stuffing and baking.  They are creamy white to pale tan in color, with a firm texture and a delicate flavor.  If you’re looking for deeper flavor, choose mushrooms whose caps have opened so that you can see the dark brown gills under the cap.

Oyster Mushrooms.

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are velvety; their stems have broad gills that rise into a flat, mostly uneven top resembling an oyster. This type of mushroom is delicate but boasts a peppery taste that, when cooked, becomes very mild.  Some people compare the soft texture and delicate flavor to seafood.  Oyster mushrooms respond best to quick cooking over high heat, such as stir-frying, and are also popular when fried.  Choose young, small specimens, as they are considered best.

Portobello Mushrooms.

recipe-9341

One of my personal favorites, portobello mushrooms can grow up to 6 inches across.  They boast a meaty taste and texture, and the large, umbrella-like caps are great vegetarian substitutes for hamburgers.  When working with this type of mushroom, be sure to remove the woody stems before eating.  For the best flavor, choose mushrooms with fully exposed, dark brown gills.  Try them grilled or roasted, or substitute them for part of the meat in a recipe (such as for tacos or chili).

Shiitake Mushrooms.

234px-Shiitakegrowing

Another one of my favorites, which you may recall from my sukiyaki recipe, is shiitake mushrooms.  This mushroom variety has a distinctively smoky flavor and tastes best when cooked. The caps are umbrella-like with meaty tan to dark brown coloring. Shiitake are available fresh or dried, and are delicious in stir-fries (the taste holds up well even next to strong flavors, such as ginger and garlic).  While the stems are too tough to eat and should be removed before cooking, you can use them to flavor stocks or sauces before throwing them away.  Shiitake mushrooms are available in a variety of sizes; large ones have a deeper flavor but also a tougher texture.

Cremini Mushrooms.

Cremini_Mushrooms

Similar to white mushrooms but with a firmer texture and deeper flavor, cremini mushrooms are actually immature portobellos.  They have edible stems and button-like caps ranging in color from pale tan to rich brown.  While creminis and white button mushrooms are interchangeable in recipes, creminis are especially delicious with wild rice.  Try them together in a pilaf or soup.

Enoki Mushrooms.

Enoki

Enoki mushrooms grow in bunches with long, slender stems and small, white caps. They are crisp and have a mild, somewhat fruity flavor. Try them raw on salads or in sandwiches.

About 

Demelza Young is a recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University. Her current plans are to attend graduate school and to study clinical psychology in the hopes of one day working with eating disordered patients.

67 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Jennifer W March 29, 2013 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Reishi mushrooms are awesome!

  2. lisa March 29, 2013 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Very informative. I love mushrooms but tend to stick with white and portobello because I didn't want to waste money on something I may not like.

  3. Sarah Shepler March 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    Great mushroom overview!  My grandparents in Germany used to take me mushroom foraging.  They knew how to identify mushrooms based on necessity having once been war children in today's Poland.  It's such a treat to learn things the old fashioned way.

  4. Chum March 30, 2013 at 3:39 am - Reply

    i love enoki mushrooms!

  5. San March 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    I love mushrooms! They are tasty and healthy too.

  6. krystel March 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    yuck hate mushrooms but never knew that they were diffrent types of mushrooms thought there was only one 

  7. heather c April 1, 2013 at 2:08 am - Reply

    type of mushrooms are good to kno..i use to go mushroom hunting/looking when i was younger..

  8. Sarah B April 1, 2013 at 11:35 am - Reply

    I'm picky about mushrooms, but I do love me some portobello's – even the baby kind.

  9. Maria Iemma April 1, 2013 at 11:45 am - Reply

    I am not a fan of mushrooms but my family loves them. I usually buy the button ones since I did'nt know about the others.  Thank you for the post.

  10. Wendy Price April 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    I love shataki and portabello.

  11. ne-knopka April 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    I love mushrooms

  12. Sandy McFadden April 1, 2013 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    I love mushrooms and really love Morel Mushrooms that my grandparents use to pick in the spring time here in Wisconsin!

  13. Elle Briarson April 1, 2013 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Great post! Very good to know.

  14. Mrs. Ransome April 2, 2013 at 3:31 am - Reply

    I don’t really use mushrooms in my cooking, but after reading this, I am inspired to pick a recipe to try just because ofbthe mushrooms. I had no idea that the cremini were just juvenile portabellos.

  15. gnomy gnome April 2, 2013 at 7:33 am - Reply

    Thanks for your overview! I always get overwhelmed looking at the huge varity.

  16. Connie Ward April 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Never knew there were so many different types of mushrooms until our family went for a walk in the woods one day.  Amazing!  So many different colors!  But, my favorite are still the morels.

  17. ANN*H April 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    I love mushrooms , rare or fried in butter. This article is very informative for me educating me on the types of mushroom that I wasnt aware of.thanks so much for all the information

  18. Colette S @JamericanSpice April 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    I did not know they have so many kinds of mushrooms! I enjoyed reading this and learning more! 

  19. Elle Briarson April 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    I cook alot with various mushrooms, so this is an extremely helpful guide!

  20. Holly Uhler April 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    lol i know its to help with cooking stuff but you should put poisonous ones on here so we also know what to avoid

  21. veronica lee April 3, 2013 at 3:27 am - Reply

    What an interesting post!! I love mushrooms – any kind as long as they are edible!

  22. Jessica Snow April 3, 2013 at 3:28 am - Reply

    I honestly never knew there were so many types of mushrooms.  I knew a few of them, but this was great to read. 

     

  23. Rachel Ellis April 3, 2013 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Thank you for the information!  I usually just stand and stare at the grocery store because all the types confuse me, if it's not a morel then I am lost ;).  Thanks again!

  24. Sherryl Wilson April 3, 2013 at 11:09 am - Reply

    We love mushrooms but I didn't know all the information you posted! Thanks for the details.. there are a few we may try now.

  25. Stacey Turner April 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post! I am always tempted to buy other varieties and I have no clue what to do with them. Now I can go to the store with a plan. 🙂

  26. Wanda Tracey April 3, 2013 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great review on mushrooms.To tell the truth this is the first time I have heard of enoki mushrooms but I would like to try them.

  27. nicole krutz April 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    i have never used mushrooms before unless they were canned, so this is helpful and something i can use for the future! thank you!

  28. stacey dempsey April 3, 2013 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    I am always confused by mushrooms so i tend to just buy the regular white mushrooms but it would be nice to be a little more adventurous ,I am going to get the portebello mushrooms next time I get groceries and give them a try

  29. iva cvjeticanin April 3, 2013 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    really useful and interesting! love mushrooms, especially in pizza and omelets!!

  30. Elle Briarson April 3, 2013 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    Love this guide!

  31. adina post April 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    great article, we only eat white here 🙂

  32. Sylvia Zajis April 5, 2013 at 11:44 am - Reply

    This was a great information session.  I always love learning information I can actually use.  Thanks for the serving suggestions as well, I have a few new mushrooms to try!

  33. Krystal V. April 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Never seen the Enoki mushrooms!!

  34. rebeccabasset April 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the information on mushrooms, I have never cooked (fresh) with them, but I will. try these!

  35. Dolly April 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    This is an awesome post that gets the reader thinking. For example we have numerous wild varieites of mushrooms growing in the UK and only 2-3 commonly sold in supermarkets with most people believing the rest are poisonous and yet so many are super healthy and can be used in non foods as well such as cosmetics for skincare. It's a shame woodland flora/fauna identificiation wasn't taught when I was in school!

  36. Heather Diotte April 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    This is a good article that everyone should read. I love mushrooms, and I remember my grampa picking them in the bush when I was young, and he always knew the good ones from the bad ones! 🙂

  37. April Wray April 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Interesting! Thanks for the great post!

  38. Hannah Pitts April 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    Awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this! My girls have been asking about mushrooms so I will be Pinning this so we can have it for Nature study. =)

  39. Kasara R. April 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Portobello and white mushrooms are the ones I use the most. The others not so much. The last one. enoki mushrooms, look interesting. Never heard of them before as well as the oyster mushrooms.

  40. C. McPheeters April 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Thanks!  So many mushrooms and hesitant to try new (to me) varieties.  NOW I know enochi are best RAW and used in salads!! Thanks for the info!

  41. Charlene April 10, 2013 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    Didn't know there were so many different mushrooms. Thanks for the lesson. It will come in handy the next time I'm buying some.

    • Susan Bewley April 11, 2013 at 11:10 am - Reply

      I have to admit, I was surprised awhile back when I found out. I thought for a long time there were only two types of mushrooms – the ones my mother’s purchased as a kid and the ones I was taught NOT to eat in nature 😉

  42. Peggy Greco April 10, 2013 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    I have always really liked mushrooms; thanks much for sharing.

  43. Olivia F. April 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    This is such a helpful guide! I never know which kinds I should use when or even what the difference is really! Thanks so much for putting this together!

  44. Joni J Caraway April 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I love mushrooms and we eat them often. I have never seen or heard of the Enoki Mushrooms, will have to try and find them. We always buy and stuff the portabella ones, they are so good.

  45. Sita Madu Wynn April 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    I love eating mushrooms, and I have seen quite a lot of mushrooms in the woods, but never knew their names, thanks for sharing this informative post.

  46. Anita L April 15, 2013 at 6:55 am - Reply

    I certainly learned something new today, as I never realized how many different types of mushrooms were available to eat.  Thank you for this useful information!

  47. Bobby Tarumi April 16, 2013 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Enoki mushrooms are very good in soup (in Nabe form with fish, cabbage, watercrest, etc).

  48. Donna Roucoulet April 16, 2013 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for the great comparison of mushrooms.  I love them myself, and I now can learn which ones are better in which dishes.  Thanks!

  49. Liliane April 17, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    I love the little buttery enoki mushrooms

  50. Krystal Miller April 18, 2013 at 2:19 am - Reply

    Thanks for the useful information! We usually just get the white mushrooms or portobello mushrooms and never really consider anything else. The enoki mushrooms sure look very different from all the others! I've never heard of them before.

  51. Cami April 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    i hate mushrooms but i amnot against cooking with them i just don't put any in my portion!!! lol great to know all the kinds

  52. Heather April 22, 2013 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    Lovely written article.
    This helps knowing more about them being in Culinary School!

  53. Cindy Brickley April 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I am not a fan of mushrooms, but my husband on the other hand wants them almost everyday. We usually just make a gravy out of them mixed with onions and peppers. They do make an awesome gravy.

  54. Amy Green April 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    I love mushrooms, I eat them with just about everything!

  55. Kelly R. April 30, 2013 at 8:49 am - Reply

    I love mushrooms, but I never knew there were so many varieties. 

  56. md kennedy May 3, 2013 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Great summary!  But I have to say my favorite mushrooms are the Oyster, especially when basted with a bit of EVOO, sprinkled with salt & pepper and grilled over a wood fire until the gills just begin to get crispy.  Heaven!

  57. Chrystal D May 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    I LOVE mushrooms! I need to get a book at the library on the wild ones to pick. I know some of them grow here in NC.

  58. Melissa Say What? May 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    I'm always looking to expand my ingredient list.  It opens up a whole new world of recipes.  I've never tried Enoki, Cremini or Oyster mushrooms.  I'll be searching and saving recipes!

  59. Michelle Proper June 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I would love to learn more about mushrooms and their many healing properties! So many health benefits!

  60. marissa lee June 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    this looks good but i am allergic to mushrooms.

  61. marissa lee June 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    I know nothing about the different kinds of mushrooms…thank you for the info.

  62. Rachel N June 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I love white mushrooms, they are the best when bbq'd in the summer, sooooo yummy.

  63. Toni W. June 20, 2013 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I didn't relize there were so many different kinds. This has been very informative. 

  64. md kennedy July 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    M husband and I LOVE mushrooms, and even keep a 1 gallon jar in the pantry with dried ones that we can use in any recipe that calls for a mushroom.  Our absolute avorite: risotto!

  65. Danelle August 31, 2013 at 12:36 am - Reply

    I absolutely LOVE mushrooms, but my favorites are the wild ones. Many years back, we used to go out into the woods and collect them. We were always looking for the elusive and heavenly Morel. {This can be dangerous, if you don't know what you are doing} But they are DEVINE! 

    My second favorite from the wild was called Chicken of  the Woods or Hen of the Woods, not sure of the technical name of it. These were fantastic fried up in butter and add just a bit of salt.  Now, I am too lazy to go out and find them-so I have to settle for store bought. Store bought is good, but has never had that melt in your mouth quality that I remembered gettting with wild ones.

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