Lepista nuda, or Clitocybe nuda, depending on which naming protocol you adhere to.
Wood Blewits fall into the love 'em or leave 'em crowd. Many mushroom hunters love them, and will go out of their way to find them. Others take them happily because they are there when other mushrooms are not. Then there are a bunch of people who either don't think they are worth the time, or outright dislike them.
The reason is the flavor. It is fairly strong. Prepared correctly (lengthy cooking) with the right ingredients (mellow and rich REAL food ingredients), they are considered a very good edible. So much so that they are now cultivated commercially in some parts of the world.
When preparing Blewits, always be sure to cook them for at least 15 minutes. Prepare them using ingredients such as cream, butter, shallots, mild flavored creamy cheeses, and chicken or white fish. They go well with dark meats when combined with mellow ingredients also.
Me? I can tolerate them. I can tolerate most any mushroom now if I have to. But then, I am a confirmed mushroom hater. But confidentially, one of the reasons I like this mushroom is simply because it is purple.
Gold Cap Stropharia, Questionable Stropharia - Stropharia Ambigua
Like a little yellow parasol, with spiky lace dangling from the cap edge, and perched atop a tall shaggy stem. This absolutely beautiful little mushroom gets a bad rap when it comes to edibility, on two counts.
- Some question edibility due to lack of information, and the fact that, like Wine Caps (another Stropharia) they cannot be consumed in large quantities, and should not be consumed two days in a row. They should be well cooked, and caps only should be eaten.
- The second reason it gets put down is the smell and flavor. The smell is a strong earthy smell, just like you stuck your nose down onto the forest floor into a heap of leafy, woody, composty forest dirt. Just like that! This is one of the key identifying features for the mushroom (and you can tell that it is not an Amanita by the gray gills). The flavor is a take-off on the odor, so you have to prepare it with complementary flavors to enjoy it. Otherwise it just tastes funky.
So what do you do with them?
They go well with garlic, onions, and chicken or fish, and they combine well with dark beefy flavors. Usually you do not want to feature them in the meal, but just use about 2 caps per person, along with other less dominant mushrooms such as Portobello, Russula, or other mild flavored mushrooms.
Try this recipe here: Gold Cap Stropharia and Portobello Mushroom Soup
About - The second most cultivated mushroom world-wide, the Shiitake is nutritious and flavorful. It is popular for Japanese cuisine, especially in the US. It is relatively easy to grow on logs, and fairly easy to propagate, which accounts in part for the prevalence of this mushroom around the world.
Culinary Use – Shiitakes are used in Oriental cuisine, and are increasingly featured in more and more recipes as they become more available. They dry well, and are frequently sold that way. They are popular for soups, stir-fry, salads, and with meat dishes. They are being used more and more as an all purpose mushroom by people who grow their own.
Medicinal Use – The Shiitake is used in Japan with traditional medicine practices, for a wide variety of conditions. It may help in repairing damage from auto-immune disease, and it may have other medicinal applications as well.
Where to Find it – You don't have to look far to find Shiitakes. They are carried in some grocery stores, in thousands of stores online, and in specialty stores. You can easily find them fresh or dried.
Growing Info – Shiitakes grow on logs, and are frequently grown on oak logs. You can purchase spawn pretty much anywhere that sells anything for growing mushrooms – Shiitake spawn and grow-kits are the most common mushroom growing materials in the world. You can purchase sawdust kits – which bear a little larger crop in one or two flushes, or you can purchase a log kit, which will bear consistently, crop after crop, for as long as several years. Basically, if you can keep a log damp, and not too hot or cold, you can grow Shiitakes.
About - Little prolific mushrooms that look like a bouquet bursting from a log! Enoki mushrooms are often picked in clusters, with the caps unopened – they look like little pearl buttons on the end of the stem. Comes in white variety and golden variety. Golden is more nutritious, which is often used with caps opened, and goes by the name Winter Mushroom.
Culinary Use – Good with chicken and pork, and often used in salads. Enoki mushrooms are used as both an ingredient, and an embellishment
Medicinal Use – Enokis may help eliminate certain types of benign skin growths.
Where to Find it – They are carried in some specialty stores, and are served in Oriental restaurants. You'll mostly find them in grow-kits online though. You may also be able to find pickled Enoki.
Growing Info – Enoki is an easy mushroom to grow, they grow in cooler temperatures, and can be grown in the refrigerator any time of the year. They grow on logs, and are often available as sawdust grow-kits. They are easy to perpetuate, and keep going year after year, as long as you have a suitable log to spawn them onto. Log kits bear for a much longer time than sawdust kits.
About – Maitake is one of the more common mushrooms for growing at home. It is also used medicinally around the world, though there is little evidence as to how effective it may be. It grows wild in many areas, and goes by the name of Hen of the Woods, for the floofy appearance of the brown and gray mushroom fronds. Maitake growths can get quite large, often many pounds.
Culinary Use – May be enjoyed in soups and crispy fried with or without batter. It pickles well, and is often used dried. It has a peculiar smell, which reminds me of barely rotting apples - kind of fruity, kind of fungusy. The mushroom is popular in Asian dishes, with a wide variety of ingredient combinations.
Medicinal Use - Traditionally used as an immune system booster. There are other medical claims made for this mushroom as well.
Where to Find it – You may be able to find Maitake in the wild, it is fairly distinctive and only a few other mushrooms look like it, with specific differences. You can also easily find a grow-kit online, in log or sawdust form. There are some specialty stores that carry it in the larger cities, and many sources online that carry dried Maitake.
Growing Info - Not difficult to grow, but you do have to wait for nature to reward you for your efforts.
About – Turkey Tail is a shelf mushroom that can get quite hard when it is mature. It should be picked young, and is more a medicinal than culinary mushroom. It is named for the striped color that looks like a turkey tail. It is also used for crafts. It is currently increasing in popularity in the natural health arena.
Culinary Use – Turkey tail is not generally used for food, though some people do make soup of it for medicinal uses, and it is also used for tea.
Medicinal Use – Contains the cancer inhibiting chemical PSK, and is generally used for boosting the immune system. It may not be effective on leukemias or skin cancers. Also may help reduce parasites in farm animals, but is not recommended for horses or waterfowl.
Where to Find it – You can find Turkey Tail online, and at a few health food stores. It is typically dried. You can also find grow-kits for it online.
Growing Info – Turkey Tail is pretty easy to grow, it grows on logs, and can be grown on logs that have already started to decompose. It is a moderately slow growing mushroom. Should be harvested young, before it gets tough and hard.
About – Porcini refers to a collection of mushrooms, typically the Boletes, of which the King Bolete is the most popular and most often classed as Porcini. There are so many Boletes, that the name can have a different meaning in different regions. Boletes grow in many areas around the world. They are a favorite of mushroom hunters, and are prized in Italy and other areas in Europe. Porcini literally means Pig, and pigs like them almost as much as they love truffles.
Culinary Use – Used in Pasta sauces, for soups, and in many ethnic dishes. They are considered to be a fine flavored mushroom, though usage depends somewhat on the type of Bolete being used.
Medicinal Use – Medicinal use varies some with the variety. King Bolete may help the body metabolize fats instead of storing them. Bicolor Bolete may help the body metabolize stored fats. Bay Bolete and Birch Bolete may help the skin repair itself after injury.
Where to Find it – Many online stores sell dried and frozen Porcini, under a variety of names, most often King Bolete. It is also sometimes available in local markets or farmer's markets.
Growing Info – Boletes are mycorrhizal, meaning that they typically require tree roots to grow and fruit. They are usually not grown in an artificial environment. We are developing a means to do so, which will be ready soon, but no other grower has anything like that available. Spawn is not sold elsewhere either. Boletes typically grow in pine forests, though some types grow near trees on lawns.
Agrocybe aegerita - Also known as Black Poplar mushroom, and Chestnut mushroom.
About – Pioppino is a small mushroom that works well in a variety of dishes. It is popular in Italy, but relatively rare in the US. It is growing in popularity as a homegrown mushroom, and some commercial interest is developing.
Culinary Use – Has a delicate nutty flavor, good for vegetarian dishes, salads, risotto, casseroles, sauces, soups. Firm texture, a good all-purpose mushroom, very popular in Italy.
Medicinal Use - Helps the body absorb Vitamin D from sunlight more effectively.
Where to Find it – A few specialty stores carry this mushroom, and a few online outlets have it for sale as well. Mostly it is available as spawn or grow-kits.
Growing Info – Pioppino is one of the easier mushrooms to grow. It grows on logs, which may bear for many years. Can also be found in sawdust kits.
Various Morchella varieties. Rufo Morel is under a separate listing.
About - We've been hearing about Morel Mushrooms for a few years now. Everyone who tries them seems to agree that they are the closest thing to mushroom ambrosia that you can get.They come in Yellow, Black, White, and there are about 5 types that I've discovered total. Mushroom hunters don't tend to be particular, if it is a Morel, they'll happily snatch it and run home to fry it up.
Culinary Use - They work well in a variety of recipes, but most people we know don't bother to dress them up, they just saute them in butter and enjoy them without any distraction. Morels do need to be cooked prior to eating, and should not be consumed with alcohol.
Medicinal Use - May help slow the loss of short term memory with aging.
Where to Find it – You'll find dried Morels online, and sometimes you'll find fresh in specialty shops or at farmer's markets.
Growing Info - Can be grown indoors or out, but is not one of the easier ones to induce to fruit. You can purchase Habitat Kits for this online, but success rates vary at actually producing mushrooms from the kits.
About – Sometimes called the Compost Mushroom, or the Garden Giant, this mushroom can get up to a foot across, but they are not really edible at that stage! They grow voluntarily in many areas, and are a great mushroom to plant in a compost heap near your garden, so you can harvest mushrooms without much work.
Culinary Use - Good baked, fried, and in sauces, or just cooked in butter with a little lemon juice. Richer flavor than a Portabella, is complimented by spicy flavors such as nutmeg and fennel. Great for stuffing, a single mushroom can make an entire meal. Pick immature, with cap still closed. Do not cook with onion or garlic. Lemon juice, nutmeg, fennel all compliment this mushroom. Nutty flavor, similar to hazelnut.
Medicinal Use - May help promote healthy skin on the extremities, prevent chilblains, hangnails, blisters.
Where to Find it – You won't find these mushrooms for sale except as grow-kits. Most often sold as a compost kit.
Growing Info - Easy to grow out of doors, and simple in a kit – in fact this may be the world's easiest mushroom. These mushrooms can grow to a foot or more across, though they are best picked young. They grow well on a compost heap.
About – Lion's Mane mushroom is a white tooth type mushroom, that forms a large multi-lobed ball. It is all white, and has been harvested in the wild for centuries. It is now gaining popularity with hobby mushroom growers.
Culinary Use - Lion's Mane mushrooms are said to have a flavor like crab or lobster. They go well with seafood, or in Alfredo sauce. They are also a favorite for baking and frying.
Medicinal Use - May help prevent damage to intestines from chemical exposure.
Where to Find it – This is a difficult one to find fresh or dried, but you can easily find a kit to grow it.
Growing Info – These mushrooms are fairly common as a grow kit. They are cultivated on logs, or in a variety of bagged substrates.
Phoenix (Pleurotus pulmonarius)
Pearl, Gray (Pleurotus ostreatus) – Two colors of the same variety
Golden (Pleurotus citrinopileatus)
Blue (Pleurotus columbinus)
Funcia di basilisc (Pleurotus nebrodensis)
King Trumpet and Pink Oyster are under their own listings.
About - Oyster mushrooms are the most commonly cultivated mushrooms (by hobbiests) in the US. They are considered to be the easiest. But they are also a mushroom that comes in so many different varieties that you'll have trouble telling people what an Oyster mushroom tastes like, and you can't really say that you like them or dislike them unless you've tried an assortment.
We have individual listings for several specific ones that we've discovered unique aspects to, but most are lumped together in this listing.
Culinary Use – Used in a variety of ways, depending on the individual type. If you purchase these, use them right away.
Medicinal Use – Most Pleurotus strains have benefits for helping circulation.
Where to Find it – Oyster mushrooms are one of the more commonly available specialty mushrooms in the US, largely because they are easy to grow. Check them carefully for firmness, color, and general condition, because they break down quickly after picking.
Growing Info – You can find Oyster mushrooms pretty much anywhere you look for grow-kits or spawn online. You may have difficulty figuring out exactly which variety is being advertised though. Pearl and Gray are the two most common.
About – A bright yellow mushroom, also called Sulphur Shelf. We know of three varieties, listed below. Often used as a meat substitute for the chewy texture.
Sulphureus – The more common darker orange variety which grows on vertical trees. This variety can cause reactions in some people, and it toughens with age, so only the outside edges are usually palatable.
Cincinnatus – Less common, grows on rotting wood that is buried in the ground. We looked long and hard for this variety, specifically because it is more tender and easier to use than the other varieties. It is also less likely to cause a reaction than the darker varieties.
Conifericola – Grows on conifers, and is more likely to cause reactions than the other two. Less flavorful, and not as prized for culinary uses.
Culinary Use - Great for meatless dishes, with a texture like chicken – reconstitute dried Chicken of the Woods in chicken or pork boullion for a meat substitute. Can also be sliced thin and fried in butter with a little smoke flavoring for meatless bacon. Cincinnatus has the best flavor and texture. Pick immature, or trim off outer edges, tender parts only.
Medicinal Use – The different varieties have slightly different poterntial uses.
Laetiporus cincinnatus – May help reduce absorption of nutrients by cancer cells.
Laetiporus conifericola - higher reaction potential – May help rejuvenate gray hair folicles.
Laetiporus sulphureus – May help reduce sceborrhetic keratoses.
Where to Find it – You'll find Sulphur Shelf mostly as a Grow-Kit, online, or wild, in the woods. It is pretty distinctive and difficult to mistake for anything else.
Growing Info - Easy to grow on logs, though it is slower to propagate than many other mushrooms. L. Cincinnatus can be grown on logs that have been used previously for other mushrooms. L. Conifericola traditionally grows on conifers, but if grown on other softwoods may be less prone to stimulating allergic reactions.
About – Reishi is one of the easier mushrooms to find in a dried or kit form, and has long been popular as a medicinal mushroom, with recommendations all over the place for use for any number of conditions. Some research supports claims involving certain extracts. Reishi is a dramatic looking mushroom, fairly unusual in appearance, with strong red coloring.
Culinary Use - Some people make soup from this mushroom, or use it sparingly in cooking, but it is generally a medicinal mushroom.
Medicinal Use - Traditional Asian medicinal mushroom, with strong history and lore behind it. Generally used as a tea, but also used powdered in capsules. May provide a “decoy” for auto-immune arthritis, reducing the damage from the disease.
Where to Find it – Easy to find online, and sometimes offline at health food stores. Grow-kits are also very prevalent.
Growing Info - Easy to cultivate on logs, the mushrooms grow into fantastic shapes with bright red caps, that can be either surreal or lovely. Fun to grow for the sheer artistry of their growth habits. Commonly available in sawdust kits or on logs.
About - A pretty tan and white mushroom that looks clean and neat.
Culinary Use - Used as chicken substitute during depression. Dip in egg yolk, coat in chicken coating, deep fry.
Medicinal Use – May stop the growth of chronic mutating viruses in people and animals.
Where to Find it – Generally found in the wild, though sometimes available through Farmer's Markets or online in various forms.
Growing Info - Grows in clumps on decomposed logs or rotted forest debris (bark chips). This mushroom is not commonly cultivated, though a few commercial farms are now cultivating it.
About – Dryad's Saddle is a large tan and brown mushroom, which can get up to a foot across. It is very tough by the time it gets that big though. It has a smell like watermelon rind, and is edible in the smaller sizes. Larger sizes make good animal feed for for cows, pigs, goats, sheep, and for limited use with chickens, guineas, turkeys, and quail.
Culinary Use – Dries well, and is a good edible in small sizes. Pickles well in a sweet brine.
Medicinal Use – May help speed up metabolism. May also be used to inhibit parasites in dogs and pigs.
Where to Find it – You'll mostly find this in the wild, or online in a grow-kit or as spawn.
Growing Info – Grows on logs, and can get very large. Fairly easy to grow if you can get the mushroom spawn.
Craterellus fallax & Craterellus - cornucopioides
About – Black Trumpets are a wild mushroom which is difficult to locate due to the color and propensity to grow in deep shade. The dark brown to black mushrooms are difficult to spot. They are highly prized though, and considered to have a very good flavor.
Culinary Use – Black Trumpets tend to be used in recipes where they are featured, and are often simply cooked in butter. They are rare enough that most people who find them don't want to bury them in a recipe where they are just another mushroom, but they want to prepare them so the mushroom is the focus of the meal.
Medicinal Use – Black Trumpets may encourage the body to release stored fat during exercise.
Where to Find it – Look for Black Trumpets in the wild, in deep shady places in the forest. A few online stores sell dried or fresh Black Trumpet mushrooms. They are fairly expensive. You won't find spawn or grow kits as a general rule either.
Growing Info – Black Trumpets require a large growing area, with littered forest conditions. They are fairly difficult to cultivate intentionally.
Agaricus Bisporus (Brown)
About – The Brown Button was the most commonly grown commercial mushroom up until around the 1930s. About that time, the mutant sibling of the Brown Button was promoted for commercial production, and quickly overshadowed the homely Brown, in spite of having weaker nutritional content. The Brown Button is an all-purpose mushroom, and is superior to the White Button in almost all respects.
Culinary Use – Use in any mushroom recipe where White Buttons would be used. Good fresh or cooked.
Medicinal Use – Brown Button mushrooms may help to prevent the storage of fat around internal organs.
Where to Find it – You'll pretty much have to order this one to grow yourself. If you can't find it, Portobellos or Criminis can substitute. In fact, some growers grow the Brown Button and label it as Portobello - it can be difficult to tell what mushroom variety you are getting under the name of Portobello.
Growing Info – Easy to grow, it is cultivated about the same as the White Button. It is a compost mushroom, and likes unfinished compost.
About – A smaller Chanterelle which grows in the winter. It is considered a fine flavored mushroom, though not quite as prized as the larger Chanterelles. Goes by several names.
Culinary Use – Used the same way as other Chanterelles, as a featured menu item, in dishes that magnify the mushroom flavor.
Medicinal Use – May help reduce damage to the lungs from airborne contaminants.
Where to Find it – Find it in the forest in filtered shade, in the fall and winter, or at farmer's markets. A few online stores will ship this mushroom, and you can often find it dried online.
Growing Info – Easier to grow than many Chanterelles, takes far less space. Still a challenging mushroom to grow. You won't generally find spawn for sale, or habitat kits.
About – A high demand mushroom in Japan, where locally grown matsutake fetches a premium price. This mushroom sells for less when grown elsewhere, but is still a fairly expensive commodity due to the difficulty in cultivating it. It is a rather sad looking thing, picked when the caps are still tightly closed. It looks dirty and somewhat misshapen, and not at all like an expensive treasure.
Culinary Use – Used in Asian cuisine, and in an increasing variety of new dishes as it gains popularity.
Medicinal Use – May help stop auto-immune damage to the pancreas and other endocrine glands.
Where to Find it – You can find this mushroom in some online stores, fresh, or dried, and occasionally in local markets. It is generally fairly expensive.
Growing Info – A mycorrhizal mushroom which requires tree roots to grow. This is a challenging mushroom to intentionally cultivate, and is generally grown in forests. Attempts to grow it in an artificial environment have been disappointing for most researchers. We are experimenting with a unique method of propagation.
About – A whiter mushroom than Matsutake, this mushroom is a good culinary mushroom. It grows in symbiosis with trees, the same as standard Matsutake, but is a little easier to cultivate in an artificial environment.
Culinary Use – Has a flavor all its own, which goes well with Mexican and Oriental food.
Medicinal Use - May help reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
Where to Find it – You'll only find this one in the wild, or sometimes in specialty stores.
Growing Info – A mycorrhizal mushroom, grows in symbiosis with Ponderosa pines. Difficult to cultivate, but less fussy than standard Matsutake. You'll have to find a specimen of the mushroom and cultivate spawn for yourself.
About – A great all purpose mushroom, with a slightly nutty flavor. This is the second most popular mushroom in Japan, but is only just now making headway in the US. This is a good sized brown mushroom, best picked when the caps are just fully open.
Culinary Use – Great in soups, stews, casseroles and vegetarian dishes. Very easy to use in a wide variety of dishes. This is the traditional Miso mushroom.
Medicinal Use – This mushroom may help the body absorb calcium more efficiently. It has other traditional uses in Japan, as most mushrooms do in Japan.
Where to Find it – We have not seen this one available fresh anywhere, and almost no dried sources either. We have found many sources for grow kits and spawn though, so you can grow your own. We anticipate that sources for this mushroom in the US will increase during the next few years as growers begin picking it up and cultivating it.
Growing Info – A relatively easy mushroom to grow on logs or in a sawdust kit. Takes a little more attention than Shiitake, but produces abundantly. If you love mushrooms and can only grow one, this is a good choice for home use. If you are considering commercial production, you may be able to add this to an existing inventory and establish a good market for it, since there is little competition in the market, and a slowly growing demand for it. It would not be a good mono-culture crop, where you expect to make all your income from a single variety.
About – Perhaps one of the most expensive fungi worldwide, because they are difficult to grow and find – they grow underground. They are prized for gourmet cooking. Truffles are hunted by pigs or dogs, who can smell the truffle beneath the surface of the ground.
There is a difference between the European Black Truffles and Oregon Black Truffles. The European ones are considered higher quality, no matter where they are grown.
Culinary Use – Black truffles are not something that is generally served at the dinner table, but rather, in high end restaurants where the price of the dish is more than this month's rent, and then they are used more for seasoning than as a feature food - which explains why truffle flavor and aroma are so highly prized (they have to go a long way!).
Medicinal Use – Truffles may help reduce the risk of heart disease, in men especially. They have not been used as extensively for medicine as other mushrooms because of their rarity.
Where to Find it- You can find Black Truffles of several varieties through specialty stores, and through a few stores that ship fresh, frozen, or dried mushrooms, online. You won't find them at the corner market, and most of the time you'll only find them in specialty stores in the larger cities.
Growing Info - Black Truffles are traditionally grown in orchards or forests, and are a Mycorrhizal mushroom – they grow in symbiosis with tree roots. They traditionally take 10-15 years to bear after inoculating the soil or tree roots in a forest or orchard. There may be methods for speeding up the process using natural alternatives. Truffles are a fairly complicated mushroom to grow, and not something that you should do if you cannot follow instructions and be patient.
Many varieties of Cantharellus
About - Chanterelles are a flavorful mushroom, with a pleasant smell. There are a few inedible mushrooms that look similar, but if you know the key features to look for, there is no mistaking them. They have a fluted appearance, and distinctive ridges instead of gills. Chanterelles are a prized mushroom, because they have traditionally only been grown wild.
Culinary Use – Most people saute Chanterelles and serve them with meat, or over pasta or rice. They add a nice splash of yellow color to a meal.
Medicinal Use – Chanterelles may help to increase circulation to the extremeties, and may help to alleviate cold hands and feet.
Where to Find it – You can find Chanterelles in many places online, mostly dried, but a few places sell fresh. You can also find them at farmer's markets if they grow in your region.
Growing Info – Most sources will tell you that Chanterelles cannot be cultivated intentionally, and that isn't strictly true. They can be cultivated indoors or out, in the ground, or in artificial beds. Must be cultivated in a particular manner to grow, and they require a very large space, fairly densely colonated in order to fruit. They are fairly fussy about their habitat as well. Certainly not a mushroom for beginners or anyone who is impatient.
About – The largest of the oyster mushrooms, the King Trumpet has a broad stem and a small brown cap. It is not one of the more popularly grown oyster mushrooms, but is one that is more often used for gourmet cooking.
Culinary Use – Sometimes used in place of meat, and in ragout, some Oriental dishes, and with fish. It has a bland sort of sweet flavor which needs to be either delicately seasoned, or allows it to be disguised in almost anything.
Medicinal Use – May help reduce tumor growth. May have less effect on leukemias.
Where to Find it – Some specialty grocers carry this mushroom, both online and off, but you'll most often find it in a grow your own kit.
Growing Info – One of the harder oyster mushrooms to grow, but not considered to be a difficult mushroom to grow. Grows on sawdust or on compost, but does not like a high amount of manure in the compost.
About – The Pink Oyster mushroom is enjoyed mostly for the color it imparts to food. It is perhaps not the best flavored of the oyster mushrooms, but is still a good food item.
Culinary Use – Cook with butter, and enjoy with garlic and onions. A lovely touch of color in mixed dishes. Goes well with seafood. Best if not used in sauces, since it does not tolerate overcooking.
Medicinal Use – May help to regulate the metabolism.
Where to Find it – You'll have to look in specialty stores for this one, if you can find it at all. Mostly it is available as a mushroom you can grow yourself. It is available in a kit form from several online sources.
Growing Info – Easy to grow, Oyster mushrooms are considered to be some of the least fussy mushrooms. This one fruits in warmer temperatures than most Oyster mushrooms. It grows on logs, but can also be grown in sawdust, and even on toilet paper rolls, though we don't particularly recommend that!
About – This mushroom is popular in Asian cuisine, and is now making inroads into the US. It is usually available canned, fresh, or dried. It grows with a sac around it, and is harvested before the sac breaks, and it may be left on or taken off prior to cooking. The unpeeled mushrooms are stronger in taste with a delicious and deeply pleasant aroma – they are called “in the egg” when they are used with the sac still intact.
Culinary Use – Paddy Straw mushrooms have a very smooth texture when cooked. They are used for a wide variety of Asian dishes.
Medicinal Use – Paddy Straw mushrooms may help heal the damage from auto-immune disease. Again, this is a fairly common health benefit for mushrooms in general, but this one is particularly good at it. As a culinary mushroom, it is a good one to use on a regular basis for the nutritional benefits associated with mushrooms anyway.
Where to Find it – You can find this mushroom in specialty shops, or dried online, or canned in some grocery stores. You can also find grow kits for it in a few places online. A few places sell specialty foods using this mushroom.
Growing Info – As a tropical, heat loving mushroom, it can be challenging to grow in northern climates out of season. It is otherwise fairly simple to propagate, and it enjoys growing on easily obtainable materials. A few places online sell grow kits, or spawn for this mushroom.
Comments: I hate mushrooms - white and brown buttons just gross me out. Fungusy flavor, nasty rubbery slimy texture. Yech!
I got some dried Paddy Straw mushrooms. I re-hydrated about a dozen pieces from the bag, and then cut them up in very small slivers using a pair of scissors. I saved the broth from rehydrating them, added some butter, garlic, and salt, and heated it until the mushrooms were fully rehydrated. I ended up thickening it a bit before serving it.
Now, understand, my highest expectations were that I would be able to eat it without throwing up. Imagine my shock, after about the third bite, I realized I actually LIKED the dark savory flavor. It tasted more like soy sauce than mushroom. I never thought I'd look forward to a meal with mushrooms!
The texture was a little rubbery, but not slimy like button mushrooms, more like clams - I do not know if that was because they were dried or not, and I don't know if the flavor of fresh picked are different. I just know that I tried the dried ones and liked them.
If you don't like grocery store mushrooms, and feel the need to eat mushrooms for healing effects, do give this one a try. I'm pretty hard to convince to like fungus. This one does not taste like fungus at all.
About – The Rufo Morel is a type of morel that is a little less picky about where it grows, which means it may be found in more urban areas. It is a tasty mushroom, prized for flavor. All Morels are generally harvested wild, though the Rufo is more easily cultivated in an artificial environment than most other Morels.
Culinary Use – My friends who love Morels say that they are a rare enough treat, that they simply fry them in butter and enjoy them without distractions. Since Morels are typically harvested in the wild, they are seasonal, and people rarely get enough of them to tire of them, so we don't find many exotic recipes using Morels.
The Rufo Morel has a more sensitive flavor than other Morels, and it is best to use real butter with them, and to avoid most vegetable oils, including Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They may be cooked in Light Olive Oil, or Coconut Oil.
Medicinal Use – There is not much information available on the Rufo Morel specifically, but this mushroom may help to reduce the effects of aging on the brain. Most mushrooms can do this to a certain extent, but the Rufo Morel is particularly well-suited for this benefit. You generally will not find it listed as a medicinal mushroom, but knowing it can help with your health makes it doubly enjoyable when they are in season.
Where to Find it – Rufo Morels are found in the wild, through some online food stores in a dried form, and occasionally at farmer's markets in the spring (though they rarely specify which type of morel they are selling). You may also find Grow Kits for Rufo Morels in a few online stores. If you are a mushroom hunter this mushroom can be found near woods, in urban parks, and prefers recently disturbed ground. It is a spring mushroom, and can often be found 3-5 days after a soaking rain.
Growing Info – Morels in general are not considered to be easy mushrooms to grow intentionally. Rufo Morels are the easiest of the Morels to cultivate, but are still fairly particular. They can be grown in a completely artificial environment, if natural materials are used. They prefer recently disturbed earth, so if they are grown in a kit, half of the dirt should be removed and replaced on a yearly basis, alternating sides year by year.
Agaricus Bisporus (Brown)
About – The second most common mushroom sold in the US, you find Portobello mushrooms everywhere. They are typically sold at about 3-4” wide. The unopened buttons have been given the name Crimini, or sometimes Baby Portobello, and are about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches wide. These brown mushrooms are more nutritious than the white buttons, and they like a little more light. They are also a bit easier to grow and are a bit less disease prone.
Some Portobellos are the traditional Brunnescens variety, which is the original Portobello mushroom. Many now are Agaricus Bisporus brown mushrooms instead. It can be difficult telling which is which, though the Bisporus brown buttons start out with dark gills, and Brunnescens does not.
Culinary Use – Has been used as a substitute for both hamburger buns, and patties. Also served batter dipped and deep fried, sauteed in butter, and in soups, casseroles, and fresh on salads. One of the mushrooms that is commonly eaten raw. Crimini caps are often served as appetizers during after hours functions, with some kind of stuffing in them. They pair well with Italian dishes, cheese, onions, and sweet peppers.
Medicinal Use - May help reduce damage to skin and eyes from exposure to airborne chemicals.
Where to Find it – Pretty much any grocery store with a produce section will carry both Portobellos and Criminis. Criminis may be called Baby Portobellos. You can also sometimes find grow-kits online. Check Portobellos and Criminis carefully in the stores for signs of decay – dented soft spots in the caps, gray coloring in the stems, slimy ooze on the stem ends. Fresh ones will keep for a week in your fridge, but the mushrooms in the store are often less than fresh!
Growing Info – This is a compost mushroom, and grows in pretty much any good compost, either fresh, or finished, preferring horse manure blends. It likes a warm environment, but is not a tropical mushroom. If you can find Portobello caps in your local grocery store, you can spawn your own mushrooms from them fairly easily.
Agaricus Blazei Murrill
About – Almond Portobello is used in many parts of the world for cancer treatment, and it works. There are two varieties of it, which is very confusing, and they may be referred to interchangeably, but they are not the same. They DO both work for treating cancer (according to multiple studies), but they work a little differently, and on different kinds of cancers. You can find various extracts and preparations including this mushroom if you do a quick net search. That aside, it is simply a wonderful gourmet mushroom, which is useful for all sorts of delightful preparations.
Culinary Use – Renowned for the almond flavor for which it is named, the Almond Portobello is wonderful for salads, casseroles, barbeques, and sauces. It dries well for long term storage.
It should be cooked before it is eaten.
Medicinal Use – Both varieties are primarily famous for use as a cancer treatment. Has been under study by the FDA, and has been studied and evaluated all around the world for efficacy as a cancer treatment. The outcome of unbiased testing is that they both work – but of course, they are only willing to admit that “extracts” from the mushroms work (there is no profit in declaring a mushroom as a cancer treatment, you can't patent that). The mushroom contains the extract – in lower concentrations, of course. But it also contains other elements which balance the body and help to heal it in other ways (all mushrooms do – indeed most natural foods do when they are not messed with).
Where to Find it – A net search will pull up any number of vendors selling dried Agaricus Blazei, or Agaricus Subrufescens. Because of the popularity and profit margin on this mushroom, we recommend purchasing from a source you can trust, because this is a difficult mushroom to cultivate, but it looks just like several other mushrooms when dried, and you can't tell WHAT it is if it is in an extract or powder. We know of no sources to purchase it fresh, and we can find no sources for kits. You can purchase spawn from a few places online.
Growing Info – Blazei is one of the more challenging mushrooms to grow, because it is tropical, so it requires a heated environment in most areas in all except the summer months. It is sensitive to cold temperatures, and less than 50 degrees sustained temperatures can kill it. It grows best on unsterilized compost, since it is easily contaminated in sterile settings. Subrufescens is a little less particular about temperature, and can thrive at lower temperatures.