About – This mushroom has a reputation for causing gastric upset, but ONLY when combined with alcohol. It is an Inky Cap mushroom, which means that if it is mature, it will liquify - and it will also do this fairly soon after being picked if it is not cooked right away. It is classed as "edible with caution", and should only be eaten if it is fresh, and has not started to blacken.
The cap ranges from grayish to brownish with a purplish undertone. It grows in clusters, and may be fairly deep in the ground when you see the caps starting to emerge from the soil. The cap and gill color starts white, and then dulls some, with a faint grayish tinge. Once the spores start to mature, the gills will begin to turn much darker, from the bottom of the cap to the top.
Culinary Use – Use in soups, sauces, and dishes that go well with a mild flavored mushroom. It has a silky slippery texture without much firmness. This is a good mushroom for chopping fine to include in dishes for people who dislike mushrooms.
It should be cooked before it is eaten.
Tastes Like: A very mild flavored mushroom, which is not highly distinctive in flavor. It tastes barely mushroomy, and will take on the flavor of other foods.
Medicinal Use – May help in repairing mitochondrial DNA damage from metabolic dysfunction and chemical exposure.
Where to Find it – This is available only in the wild.
Growing Info – Grows near old stumps, or buried wood. Seems to come up in grass, woodlands, or dirt or gravel areas. Bears in the fall, in temperatures a little cooler than Coprinus Comatus, and may bear in close proximity to Coprinus Comatus.
About - One of a group of Inky Cap mushrooms, which liquify from the bottom up when they are mature, instead of scattering spores. They are edible, as long as they are still white, but no longer edible once they turn brown or black. Gills will blush pinkish in older mushrooms.
Culinary Use – Must be cooked, and must be processed IMMEDIATELY after picking, because they will begin to break down and blacken shortly after being picked.
This mushroom is high in moisture, so it is often used in recipes where the liquid is an asset.
They may be frozen, but if so, they need to go straight from the freezer to the hot pan, or they will break down as they thaw, and you'll have a puddle of inky goo instead of mushrooms.
I fried these up with some smoked sausage, and the mushroom flavor was very good. The texture was firm and crisp, but I had very young mushrooms, so I am not sure if the texture would soften with older ones.
Tastes Like - NOT LIKE A MUSHROOM! I actually REALLY like this mushroom! Lightly sweet, savory (but not in a beefy way, more of a chickeny way), and surprisingly good! (Remember, I don't like mushrooms as a rule!)
Medicinal Use – May help lower blood sugar in diabetics, may also have inhibitory effects on some kinds of cancers.
Where to Find it – You can find Shaggy Manes in the fall, in lawns, woods, and other areas with good compost, or well decomposed woody matter. We have found them in sunny areas of lawns, in the fall just after a cooler spell.
Growing Info – Easy to grow in compost, woodchip gardens, or lawns where the clippings are left to decompose in place.
We carry Shaggy Mane spawn in our Mushroom Store.
About – Wild mushroom that is very easy to recognize, with a large feather-like pattern - brown mushroom with black markings. It may be very large. It is a "tooth" mushroom, with the spore bearing surface on the under side of the cap, and small tooth-like bits hanging down.
Culinary Use – Hawks Wing is best if used when young, but older specimens may be dried and ground for use as mushroom powder. It is considered a good edible by many people.
Tastes Like - Has a fairly familiar mushroom flavor. Some people report some bitterness, which may be due to older mushrooms, or what they are growing under.
Medicinal Use – Hawks Wing may assist with cellular repair. Should be used with caution by cancer patients.
Where to Find it – You'll find Hawks Wing in the forest in summer or fall, a few days after heavy rains.
Growing Info – Hawks Wing are generally classified as mycorrhizal, which means they grow in symbiosis with certain trees. They are known to grow under conifers, and are sometimes found under hardwoods.
We carry Hawks Wing spawn in our Mushroom Store, along with growing instructions.
Various Russula Species
About – Russula mushrooms are one of the more common wild mushrooms, but are almost impossible to distinguish by species, due to wide variability in cap color and characteristics among mushrooms found in the same location, and due to the immensely wide variation in presentation of color and size.
The great thing about Russulas though, is that you do not have to identify by species to determine edibility. If it tastes good, it is. If it tastes bad, it is only edible if prepared properly (this is a European thing, I don't have instructions on it yet).
So, when you find a Russula (they are fairly easy to recognize), then you just taste a bit of the cap or stem. If it is sweet, or bland, it is good. If it is peppery, or acrid, or bitter, then it is not one that can just be cooked and eaten. Just taste a small piece (chew it), and then spit it out.
Culinary Use – Russulas may be used as any other mushroom, but they do crumble easily when cooked. The gills, especially, are prone to crumbling, which gives them their other name of Brittlegill. No special cooking is required for sweet or bland flavored Russulas.
Many Russulas have a sticky cap, which dries out rapidly in dry weather, but may remain somewhat gelatinous in wet weather. As the mushroom emerges from the forest duff, they tend to pick up quite a bit of litter on the cap, and it is difficult to remove. We have found that it is best to peel the cap as far as it peels easily, and then trim the rest of the cap. Some have been cleanable, and the cap skin is edible, but cleaning the things is pretty challenging if they are heavily covered.
We have also been told that they do not dry well, but have found that if the cap is peeled, they will dry very crispy, and can be easily crushed or powdered. They may also be used whole, but they don't reconstitute easily until they are in very hot water. Crushing them and adding them to dishes with a little extra moisture has been a good option.
Tastes Like - Russulas have a mildly sweet flavor, but they will pick up the flavor of anything you put them into. I cannot identify any flavor at all with some Russulas, and all of them disappear completely into sauces or flavored dishes (I am not a fan of big, slimy, grilled or fried mushrooms, so I cannot give you an opinion on how they handle that!).
Medicinal Use – Sweet Russulas may be helpful in repairing mitochondrial damage from metabolic disorders.
Where to Find it – A few markets dealing in wild mushrooms occasionally carry Russulas, but they often shy away from them due to the prevalent sticky caps, which pick up a lot of debris under normal conditions. Generally you will need to find them in the woods, summer through fall, under a variety of types of trees!
Growing Info – Russulas are mycorrhizal, requiring specific trees to grow. Most of the ones we have found were growing under conifers or in mixed forest where we could not tell what they were associated with.
We carry multiple types of Russula spawn in our Mushroom Store, along with growing instructions.
About - Mica Cap is a member of the Inky Cap mushrooms. These mushrooms liquify into black goo as they decay. The liquification starts at the edges of the cap, and works its way inward. Picking them accelerates the liquification, so they must be prepared and either used, or frozen, within a matter of an hour or two after picking.
A small yellow-brown mushroom that grows in clusters, this mushroom is edible, though many sources list it as unknown or suspect. This is because some people assume it has Coprine in it (like a similar gray mushroom in a related family of mushrooms), but it does not. Even if it did, it would only cause digestive distress if consumed with alcohol.
Culinary Use – Mica Caps may be frozen, and used later, as long as they are taken straight from the freezer to the table - they'll go black and gooey if left to thaw. They also turn the pan black when cooking them, according to one source (I have not tried them yet, due to availability).
Tastes Like - The description of the taste ranges from "nothing special" to "a good edible".
Medicinal Use – Often used in medical research, because it is easy to cultivate. May have specific uses, we do not know.
Where to Find it – It is not sold as an edible by retailers, you'll need to find it in the wild. But it is so common in yards and gardens that it should not be difficult to locate.
Since they grow well, in clusters, and are often one of the first mushrooms to appear in the spring, recognizing them can be helpful for mushroom hunters and wild foragers. They are small, but their numbers generally make up for the size.
Look for them spring through fall, on the ground, in dense clusters, often at the base of old stumps, or where the roots of dead trees run under the soil.
Growing Info - Easy to grow on partially composted sawdust or on old stumps that have roots under ground. This is a champion tertiary digester - it likes wood that has been partially decomposed, and it will finish the job of turning your old stumps into lovely rich earth.
About - Cortinarius Caperatus is commonly known as the Gypsy Mushroom, and may also be referred to as Rosites Caperata. It is collected in Europe and sold at markets there as a good edible. It is less known in the US, and since it must be identified carefully, many mushroom hunters are leery of it.
Culinary Use – I have been unable to find specific info on the culinary use of this mushroom.
Tastes Like - Reputed to have a sweet spicy flavor.
Medicinal Use – It is best known now as having anti-viral medicinal effects. This means there is a high demand for it, but since it is a Mycorrhizal mushroom, and extremely difficult to cultivate in containment, it must be gathered in the wild, and that makes supplies very limited.
There are many other mushrooms which have the same properties. One of the better ones is Agaricus Subrutilescens - the Wine Colored Agaricus. The gills of the Wine Colored Agaricus are strongly anti-viral, and it is far easier to cultivate, though it is not easy to locate as fresh or dried mushroom.
Where to Find it – Our mushroom store now carries Agaricus Subrutilescens, and we are attempting to locate sources for the Gypsy.
Growing Info -
About - The Hedgehog mushroom, and its edible cousins, all share a feature from which they get their names. The underside of the cap does not have gills or pores, rather it has toothy spines which stick downward. It is a distinctive mushroom, and one of the more popular ones for foragers since it is easily identified.
It looks rather like a Chanterelle from the top, but the bottom is different enough to distinguish. It is a meaty mushroom, and you really can't confuse it with other types because of the spiky tooth-like spore surface under the cap.
Culinary Use – The Hedgehog has a type of sugar in it, which gives it a sweet flavor. It is used in dishes where this characteristic enhances the flavor of the dish.
According to some sources, they do not dry well, and one of the reasons given is that the teeth fall off. Yeah, they do. But I have dried Hedgehog mushrooms, and they are very usable. They reconstitute slowly, and retain a chewy texture, but are otherwise just fine. They also freeze well.
Tastes Like - Somewhat of a carmelized flavor. Dried Hedgehogs have an intensification of that characteristic, and smell like barely burnt sugar, and have a little bit of a dark caramel flavor. It is not so strong that it is unpleasant.
Medicinal Use – Being studied for various things... But I have a story.
I injured a ligament behind my knee. It was EXTREMELY painful. So much so that I limped everywhere I walked (and it hurt to walk), I could not go up or down stairs, and had trouble rising from sitting position. Sleep was difficult, it hurt terribly through the night. The third day, it was only just barely beginning to ease a bit. We had Hedgehog mushrooms for dinner, to which we added some Black Trumpets (just to make enough mushrooms, so the Hedgehog flavor did not overpower the dish). Within a few hours of dinner, my knee hurt less. By bedtime I could tell something was distinctly different. By 2:00 am, I could roll over without pain, and managed to get up to use the restroom without much pain. By morning, the pain was almost completely gone, and I no longer limped, and getting up from sitting no longer hurt. I could not tell I had been injured. Just recounting an experience... I do not know for certain what all happened inside my body. I only know I had a significant injury, and experienced a remarkably rapid healing.
Where to Find it – Hedgehog mushrooms are sold by some gourmet mushroom retailers, and are found in the wild.
Growing Info - A Mycorrhizal mushroom, Hedgehogs require specific types and numbers of trees to grow. They may be grown in woodlots and landscaping where the right environment exists.
We carry Hedgehog Mushroom spawn in our Mushroom Store, along with specific growing information.
About - There are two kinds of mushrooms referred to as Elm Oyster, and both of which are labeled with the same scientific name, but one of them is wrong. True Elm Oysters have a stem that is distinctive from the cap, while False Elm Oysters either lack a stem, or have a stem with gills that run down it to the side, just like Pleurotus Oyster mushrooms - because that is what it is. It is Pleurotus Florida, which has mistakenly been labeled as Hypsigyzus Ulmarium.
Anyway, both are good edibles, and both are growable in containment.
Culinary Use – The False Elm Oyster is a very flexible mushroom, grows almost anywhere, and has a mild flavor that goes in almost anything. It is a fairly thin mushroom, and dries very well. It rehydrates quickly, and you can snip it up with scissors if you want it chopped.
Tastes Like - The flavor is so mild that it tends to pick up the flavor of anything you cook it with. If you dislike mushrooms, this one hides well in almost any dish.
Medicinal Use – Good for detoxing, but other benefits depend on exactly which version of Elm Oyster you have.
Where to Find it – False Elm Oyster, masquerading as Hypsyzigus Ulmarium (but which looks like a Pleurotus Oyster Mushroom) is found in many places, and pretty much everyone selling Elm Oyster has the impostor. True Elm Oyster is very difficult to find except in the wild.
Growing Info - Either is easy to grow, provided you have the right sawdust or growing medium. The False Elm Oyster grows on almost anything, including straw and paper.
About - I finally know what a truffle smells like, and somewhere in the blend of flavors is something I like, and something that, when too strong, nauseates me.
There are European Truffles (White Alba, and Black Perigord), and Oregon Truffles (White, Black, and Brown). There are Summer Truffles, Burgundy Truffles, and Desert Truffles. There are Pecan Truffles, and probably dozens of other kinds that are not yet popularized.
Culinary Use – Strong flavored, truffles are used either in shavings, or to flavor oils, butters, or sauces.
Truffles tend to lose flavor when cooked, so they are generally added either at the last in the cooking process, or to the food when it is plated.
Tastes Like - Truffles have both pleasant notes, and unpleasant notes to me, and the flavor is overpowering if very much is used. It has a sweet almost chocolatey aroma, combined with a particular odor and flavor that is distinctive to truffles, and which most truffles possess in varying balances. I find the smell and flavor to be undescribable, but it is strong enough that if you have a ripe truffle in your fridge, your butter, and anything else not sealed tightly, will become flavored with the truffle!
Medicinal Use – Truffles have various medicinal uses wrapped up in their lore.
Where to Find it – Gourmet sources only will have these. They start at about $30 per ounce, and go up from there - up a LOT.
Growing Info - Truffles are Mycorrhizal, and growing them varies in complexity with the variety. They are dependent upon trees, and you can purchase trees that are inoculated with truffle spores, or you can purchase truffle spawn and inoculate the trees yourself.
We carry Oregon White Truffle and Oregon Black Truffle spawn in our Mushroom Store.
Lepista nuda, or Clitocybe nuda depending on which naming protocol you adhere to.
About - 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. We find that they are completely usable as a mushroom in almost any recipe we'd use a Portobello in.
Culinary Use – When preparing Blewits, always be sure to cook them well. 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. We liked them in stroganoff.
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.
Tastes Like - To me, they taste like a Portobello, but with a faint strong edge to the flavor. If you use too much, or feature them in a dish that is basically just mushrooms, they can be really strong for some people. When used in mixed dishes, and sauces where you don't over do, they just taste like other mushrooms to me.
Medicinal Use – Blewits are being explored for medicinal usage.
Where to Find it – Some gourmet mushroom retailers sell Blewits, either in season, or from one of a few farms that cultivate Blewits in containment.
Growing Info - Wood Blewits are now grown in containment. They are a compost mushroom that loves deep leaf or needle litter. They fruit in the fall, and will continue to fruit through light freezes. They are a fairly easy mushroom to grow, but spawn can be difficult to find.
We carry Wood Blewit (Lepista Nuda) spawn in our Mushroom Store.
Gold Cap Stropharia, Questionable Stropharia - Stropharia Ambigua
About - 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. We have eaten these, they ARE edible, and a healthy mushroom.
- 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.
Culinary Use – 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
Tastes Like - Think of it as an extra Blewity Blewit - the strong mushroom taste, with a somewhat sharp earthy edge to it.
Medicinal Use – This mushroom also can help heal tissue - which means it should not be consumed regularly by people with cancer (mushrooms that stimulate cell growth may encourage growth of existing cancers). It can help with skin irritations, intestinal disorders, and other conditions which need surface tissues to heal.
Where to Find it – It is not sold, it is a forage mushroom. Find it in the fall, after heavy rains, right up to hard freezes.
Growing Info - Easy to grow on any woody debris or chunky compost. It is a champion compost digester.
We carry Stropharia Ambigua spawn in our Mushroom Store.
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.
We carry Shiitake spawn in our Mushroom Store.
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 may 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.
Appearance is affected by growth method.
Culinary Use – Good with chicken and pork, and often used in salads. Enoki mushrooms are used as both an ingredient, and an embellishment.
Tastes Like - I have not tried these, but the stems are more crisp than many mushrooms.
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.
Commercially grown Enoki are grown in a close environment with too little oxygen, so the mushrooms grow long, just like plants do when deprived of light, only with mushrooms it is oxygen deprivation which causes them to elongate, as they seek more fresh air. Homegrown Enoki will be shorter, and have wider caps, unless they are grown in a similar manner.
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.
Tastes Like - The flavor is like the smell, having a faint fruity flavor combined with the mushroom flavor.
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. It grows on sawdust blocks, or on buried logs, or on old stumps.
We carry Maitake spawn in our Mushroom Store.
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.
Tastes Like - I have no information on the flavor of Turkey Tail.
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.
We carry Turkey Tail spawn in our Mushroom Store.
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.
Tastes Like - King Boletes have a distinctive mushroom flavor, which I can only describe as Buttery. Definitely not like a Portobello. The flavor really comes out in food prepared with them also.
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. King Boletes typically grow in pine forests, though some types grow near trees on lawns.
We carry King Bolete spawn in our Mushroom Store, along with cultivation instructions for growing them in appropriate woodlots or landscaping.
Agrocybe aegerita - Also known as Black Poplar mushroom, Sword Belt, 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 – Good for vegetarian dishes, salads, risotto, casseroles, sauces, soups. Firm texture, a good all-purpose mushroom, very popular in Italy.
Tastes Like - Has a delicate nutty flavor according to descriptions. I have not yet tried it.
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 15 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. They have a distinctly non-mushroomy flavor, and are firm and not rubbery.
Tastes Like - I'd have to describe the flavor as Nutty more than Meaty. This is the first mushroom I've ever had that did not taste AT ALL like a mushroom, but like something delicious instead.
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. There is a debate over whether they are Mycorrhizal or not, but since they have been cultivated in captivity, the conclusion is that they are not. They do require a large amount of mycellium to fruit though, and seem to require some additional nutrient sources not commonly needed by other mushroom species.
We carry Black and Blonde Morel Mushroom Garden Kits in our Mushroom Store.
About – Sometimes called the Compost Mushroom, or the Garden Giant, but most often called Wine Caps, 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.
This mushroom MUST be cooked! It is also wise to avoid alcohol in combination with it.
Tastes Like - Nutty flavor, similar to hazelnut according to some sources. I cannot distinguish it from other mushrooms very well, it just tastes like a not-unpleasant mushroom to me.
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 - They go well with seafood, or in Alfredo sauce. They are also a favorite for baking and frying.
Tastes Like - Lion's Mane mushrooms are said to have a flavor like crab or lobster.
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
Aspen (Pleurotus populinus)
Golden (Pleurotus citrinopileatus)
Blue (Pleurotus columbinus)
Funcia di basilisc (Pleurotus nebrodensis)
Many other Oyster Mushrooms.
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.
Tastes Like - Contrary to a popular myth, they do NOT taste like Oysters, or fishy at all. If they SMELL fishy, it is because they are aged and no longer fit for cooking. They taste mildly mushroomy, and they pick up the flavors of other foods in the dish.
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.
Pleurotus Ostreatus, Pleurotus Pulmonarius, and Pleurotus Populinus dried spawns are available in our Mushroom Store.
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.
Tastes Like - Ok, so this one is one I have not yet tried, and I get different reports on flavor depending on who is describing it. Those who say it "tastes like chicken" universally have not eaten it, but have assumed. The concensus of people who HAVE eaten it is that it has a slightly meaty flavor (as many mushrooms do), and that it tends to pick up the flavor of the other ingredients in a dish, hence the recommendation to cook it in butter to bring out the flavor.
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.
Tastes Like - No reports available on flavor.
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.
Tastes Like - Contrary to some myths, they do not taste like chicken - that much is clear from research. I have not tasted them, and cannot be more accurate than that!
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.
Tastes Like - I have not found any reliable reports on the flavor, other than that it is a good tasting mushroom, but tough.
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.
Tastes Like - Black Trumpets are a very mushroomy mushroom, but if you chop them up and use them in mixed dishes, they completely disappear in them, only imparting a slight meaty/mushroomy flavor.
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 have specific growing requirements to establish outdoors.
We carry Black Trumpet spawn in our Mushroom Store.
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.
Tastes Like - To me, they are slimy, fungusy lumps that I can hardly bear to eat, and it is a shock to me that people actually LIKE these things, and consider them to be a fine culinary mushroom. But I can tolerate them diced in sauces. I find that the homegrown Portobellos and Criminis have a more beefy sort of flavor than the commercial ones, and if they are cooked in butter until they firm up, they have a good chewy texture.
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 with lots of manure.
We carry both Brown Agaricus Bisporus and Agaricus Brunnescens spawn in our Mushroom Store. Our strains of each are more flavorful than commercial strains.
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.
Tastes Like - I have not sampled these, but others who have say that they lack the distinctive flavor of the larger Chanterelles, but that they are a good mushroom anyway.
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 since it is Mycorrhizal and requires specific vegetation to grow. You won't generally find spawn for sale, or habitat kits.
We carry Yellowfoot Chanterelle spawn in our Mushroom Store, along with growing specifications.
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.
Tastes Like - I have only tasted American Matsutake, not Japanese, and really could not distinguish anything remarkable about it.
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.
We carry American Matsutake spawn in our Mushroom Store.
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.
Tastes Like - Supposed to have undernotes of a piney flavor. We used #2 Matsutake, which have less flavor than the #1 Matsutake. I could not distinguish any particular flavor that set it apart from other mushrooms, but it did have a firm texture that was less slimy than Portobello.
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.
We carry American Matsutake spawn in our Mushroom Store.