A Fungus Among Us: Types of Mushrooms

October 28, 2009

All the rain we had this past summer resulted in a carpet of wild mushrooms growing in my back yard.

They are bright orange clusters of smooth capped mushrooms that I could not tell you one thing about. And I guess that is just my point. If you don’t know ALL there is to know about wild mushrooms, stay way away.

That’s because they could be extremely poisonous, even to the touch. Unless you are a mycologist (one who studies mushrooms), wild mushrooms are best left to those who know.

I hunt for mushrooms in my local grocery store and while these are cultivated and not wild, there is a pretty wide selection for every mushroom lover. Here are some of my favorites:

Oyster are grayish white looking with a fluted cap and their taste is delicate. I like them cooked in butter with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Shitake are tan to dark brown with a broad umbrella cap. These are great marinated and grilled

Enoki are tender, white with long stems and small caps. They have a sweet, mild taste. These are best used raw in salads or soups or lightly stir fried.

Royal Trumpet so called because they have light brown trumpet shaped caps. I use them grilled or in stir fry.

Crimini are the brown cousins of the lowly and common button mushroom that most of us are familiar with. They are more intense in flavor than button mushrooms and can be sautéed or grilled.

And while there are hundreds more types, the best thing to remember about mushrooms is that they provide selenium, an essential mineral that is beneficial in producing antioxidants. And mushrooms are a great source of potassium and that is good news for your heart, muscle and nerve function.

I’ll let you in on a few cooking tips too, don’t store them in plastic bags, paper bags let them breath. Never wash mushrooms, just wipe them with a damp cloth and when they are cooking, leave them alone; let them ooze their water and start to brown on one side before stirring them.

It is a wise person who knows what fungus is among us.

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