Types of Mushrooms
The distinction between categories of mushrooms is not cast in stone, and often depends on how they are grown and sold. As an example, some of the mushrooms previously only available as wild mushrooms are now grown commercially.
For our purposes commercial mushrooms are the Agaricus strain mushrooms.
- White button (Agaricus bisporus)
- Brown button or Crimini
- Portabella and Portabellini (small portabellas)
Let’s take a look at the most popular and well known mushrooms:
White Button Mushrooms are the most widely available mushroom variety. These mushrooms have a smooth round cap and vary in colour from creamy white to beige. They range in size from small buttons to jumbos, sometimes, called stuffers. White Button mushrooms have a mild flavour and may be eaten raw or cooked. They can be used in a variety of soups, sauces, salads and side dishes.
Crimini Mushrooms also know as Brown Button or Italian Brown have a distinct rich brown or tan colour. Crimini have an earthy rich flavour when they are cooked and a nutty creamy taste when raw. They may be used in dishes together with white button mushrooms or alone in soups, stew, salads and side dishes.
Portabella Mushrooms can often reach the size of a large saucer. They are sold when the mushroom cap is open and at its most flavourful. Their colour varies from tan to dark brown and they have a meaty flavour and texture. Because of their size and texture, they make excellent grilling or roasting vegetables and may also be sliced into dishes or stuffed.
These are sometimes called gourmet or exotic mushrooms and include a huge variety of species of mushrooms. Many of these mushrooms are believed to have medicinal properties. For example in Japan, Shitake are used as part of cancer prevention therapies. Some of the more popular specialty mushrooms include:
- Shitake – grown in BC
- Oyster or Pleurotus – grown in BC
- Reishi or Ling -Zhi
- Giant Stropharia
- Paddy Straw
True wild mushrooms are those, which are ‘harvested in the wilds during their natural season, without any interaction of man in terms of cultivation, soil enhancing and controlled monitoring of the harvest.” Goran Amnegard, President Success Mushrooms published in Mushroom World V10.3. These mushrooms are highly prized by mushroom hunters and gourmet chefs.
Wild mushrooms are wonderful to eat but they should only be picked by experts familiar with them, as identifying edible wild mushrooms can be difficult, and making the wrong choice deadly. The Mushroom Industry Development Council does not provide advice or guidance on the subject of wild mushrooms, for further information please contact the Vancouver Mycological Association at www.vanmyco.com.