Most of us know the place we’re with button mushrooms – they’re inoffensive, bland and pretty sturdy. You’ll be able to stick them in a stew or a tomato sauce, or fling them throughout the highest of a pizza with out worrying about how a lot cooking is required or how lengthy they’ve been drying out within the fridge. However no one will get enthusiastic about them.

“I haven’t cooked a button mushroom for a really very long time,” says Jeremy Lee, chef proprietor at Quo Vadis and the writer of Cooking: Merely and Nicely, For One or Many. “However they’re completely beautiful – they’ll make you an honest omelette and so they appear to be inextricably linked with the good British fry-up.”

More and more, nonetheless, we’re spoilt for alternative on the subject of fungi. Supermarkets have lengthy stocked an array of “unique” or “woodland” mushrooms, typically in combined packs: shiitake, after all, but additionally maitake, enoki, oyster and king oyster. In season, speciality outlets inventory a variety of recent wild mushrooms, together with girolle and chanterelle, whereas cultivated variations will be purchased all 12 months spherical.

Full English breakfast, including button mushrooms.
A part of the good British fry-up … button mushrooms. {Photograph}: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Pictures/Picture Supply

That is nice information for cooks, significantly vegans or vegetarians seeking to broaden their vary, or omnivores attempting to scale back their reliance on meat. However all that selection will be bewildering. Even the names appear virtually intentionally misleading, particularly whenever you uncover that rooster of the woods and hen of the woods are two completely different mushrooms, however hen of the woods and maitake are the identical factor.

So how do you choose, retailer and prepare dinner such a large and seasonally shifting array?

When selecting mushrooms, freshness ought to be your most important concern. “Freshness is important,” says Lee. “As quickly as they’re minimize, they start to both rot or desiccate. So, a agency stem.”

A mushroom in respectable situation will maintain for a number of days in a paper bag within the crisper drawer of your fridge, however on the subject of storing recent mushrooms, maybe the very best recommendation is: don’t.

“Should you’re shopping for actually good mushrooms, I’d say eat them immediately,” says Adele Nozedar, meals author and writer of The Hedgerow Handbook and Foraging with Youngsters.

Usually, you shouldn’t rinse a mushroom, and even get it moist. “Most cooks is not going to wash a mushroom, as a result of it’ll take in moisture,” says Gary Bebbington, technical supervisor of Smithy Mushrooms, which provides UK-grown unique mushrooms to eating places, retailers and customers. “They’ll ensure there’s no particles or rising media seen on or round that mushroom, whether or not they use a brush, a bit of blower, a towel or a material.”

“The most effective software is a toothbrush,” Lee says. “As a result of they’ve received all these bristles that may get into the nooks and crannies.” Nozedar, for her half, just isn’t too bothered by a little bit of mud. “Simply minimize off any manky bits,” she says. “Hopefully, there gained’t be too many.”

Relating to cooking an unfamiliar number of mushroom, Bebbington’s recommendation is to start out by doing what you’d usually do. “Folks are likely to know what they’re getting with the white mushroom,” he says, “and this apprehension about what to do with the exotics, I’d say, initially, simply do the identical.” Attempt them in omelettes, soups or pies, and see what they create to the social gathering.

Unique mushrooms bought in combined packs will be cooked collectively. “Often, I’ll prepare dinner not less than 5 varieties in the identical pan,” Bebbington says. “You’ll discover the fitting be aware to hit, the concord between what’s barely overcooked and what’s barely undercooked,” he says. For his common grocery store cooking demonstrations, Bebbington fingers out bruschetta topped with mushrooms cooked with ginger, shallots and cream.

The overall recommendation is to maintain it easy – most mushrooms will profit from being sautéed gently till tender. “The flavours are all completely different,” mentioned Nozedar, “however largely, should you’re attempting them for the primary time, I’d say, [use] respectable olive oil and garlic, and simply fry them up till they scent superb.”

One different rule: don’t crowd the pan. “Mushrooms launch this astonishing quantity of water, which may create a gloop during which these darlings boil slightly than fry,” Lee says. “That’s whenever you get that unusual rubbery texture.”

Flavours that swimsuit one mushroom are likely to swimsuit most others, so don’t overthink it. “Simply that affinity with garlic, parsley, butter and shallots – it actually is a superb factor and relevant to all mushrooms,” says Lee.

Know your mushrooms


Six shiitake mushrooms arranged on a rustic wooden background.
Extra sturdy than most … shiitake mushrooms. {Photograph}: Enrique Díaz/7cero/Getty Pictures

The identify comes from the shii tree, on whose decaying logs the mushrooms had been typically discovered, however shiitake have been cultivated in Japan since not less than the thirteenth century.

These you discover in outlets might nicely come from, amongst different locations, Southport, the place Smithy Mushrooms produces them all year long. Its shiitake are grown on a sterile, human-made substrate – logs fashioned of compressed sawdust – which has been inoculated with spores. Previously, these uncooked supplies had been imported, however Smithy is increasing to provide substrates inhouse. “As a result of the demand has grown, and then you definately take out the transport facet of it, the carbon footprint facet of it, it’s now grow to be logically the fitting factor to do,” says Bebbington.

Shiitake are among the many extra sturdy mushrooms out there, and can maintain an excellent whereas within the fridge. Earlier than you prepare dinner them, it’s best to take away the stems, which though edible are unpleasantly powerful. You’ll be able to preserve them to make inventory.


Oyster mushrooms growing in the wild.
Obtainable in three colors … oyster mushrooms rising within the wild. {Photograph}: lensblur/Getty Pictures/iStockphoto

Smithy Mushrooms grows three sorts of oysters. “We do yellow oysters, pink oysters and brown oysters,” says Bebbington. “The bottom uncooked materials for these oyster mushrooms is wheat straw.” Though the wheat straw is metabolised because the mushroom feeds on the natural matter, oysters are, like all mushrooms, gluten free.

Whereas they’ll all be cooked the identical manner, the three varieties are subtly completely different. “The yellow mushrooms are very brittle,” says Bebbington. “They’re very crispy, crunchy and fragrant.” This makes them good for stir-fries and salads, the place the color makes an impression. “Brown mushrooms are velvety and creamy,” he says. “Whereas a pink oyster mushroom is bitter to style and chewy, glorious for issues reminiscent of soups and stews.”

King oyster

Three king oyster mushrooms.
Having a second … king oyster mushrooms, also referred to as eryngii. {Photograph}: Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Getty Pictures

King oysters are additionally bought underneath the identify eryngii. Bigger and denser than different oysters, the eryngii is having a second. Bebbington says: “We’ve seen an enormous progress in that market, significantly previously few years, as a result of they’re a implausible meat substitute in that they’re such a dense, heavy mushroom, that doesn’t shrivel and shrink like a white mushroom.”

King oysters are large enough to be break up lengthways and roasted, however Bebbington additionally suggests shredding them into strings with two forks earlier than cooking them on a tray within the oven. “Low and sluggish, quarter-hour,” he says, “till they’re chewy however not crispy. Take them out, fold them in a little bit of barbecue sauce, chuck them on a bun with a dressed salad, and also you’ve received a vegan pulled-pork sandwich.”


Three portobello mushrooms being seared in a pan.
‘Unbelievably meaty’ … pan-fried portobello mushrooms. {Photograph}: Robert Lowdon/Getty Pictures

The sector mushroom is a standard selection native to Britain, and portobello is the identify given to the actually massive ones of 10cm (4in) or extra throughout. “Typically they develop to extraordinary, parasol scale,” says Lee. “Unbelievably meaty.”

They aren’t tough to prepare dinner. “Peel the skins off the surface, chop them into slices,” says Nozedar. She suggests cooking them in “garlic, salt, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and a bit of little bit of white wine. Scale back it down and that’s the finest meal you’ve ever had.”

Alternatively, you’ll be able to prepare dinner a giant one entire. “Put a knob of garlic and parsley butter in the course of a portobello and bake it within the oven,” says Lee. “After they’re delicate and yielding, allow them to relaxation for a bit after which carve it like beef into stunning thick slices. That’s nice enjoyable, and it’s scrumptious.”


Boxes of morel mushrooms.
Wild and wildly costly … morel mushrooms. {Photograph}: Aberration Movies Ltd/Science Photograph Library/Getty Pictures

Morels can’t be cultivated, not less than not commercially. They develop wild and are harvested by foragers, and priced accordingly. As a spring mushroom, they’re additionally among the many few that might be in season within the coming weeks (you will get them now, so long as you don’t thoughts paying £100 a kilo).

“They’re one of many nice early spring harvests,” says Lee. “They often coincide with the primary broad beans, and a really scrumptious fricassee of guinea fowl or rooster with morels and broad beans is without doubt one of the nice dishes – it’s completely delicious.” No matter manner you select to make use of them, morels have to be completely cooked as a result of if consumed uncooked, they’ll trigger abdomen upset.

Girolle and chanterelle

A summer beauty … the golden chanterelle mushroom.
A summer time magnificence … the golden chanterelle mushroom. {Photograph}: hsvrs/Getty Pictures

You gained’t see these two extremely prized wild varieties till the tip of summer time. They’re typically imported from Europe, though girolles do develop in Scotland. “They often seem in late August, proper the best way via September and sometimes into October as nicely,” says Lee. “They’re stunning, golden, fantastic issues.”

Relating to cooking them, he recommends a bordelaise remedy: “Fry them calmly in olive oil – or goose fats, even; that’s fairly good – after which add a knob of butter and a smattering of finely chopped shallots and really finely chopped garlic for a fast, final fry. Then add an almighty quantity of chopped parsley and three tears of lemon juice.”


‘A bit wormy and weird’ … a bunch of enoki mushrooms.
‘A bit wormy and bizarre’ … a bunch of enoki mushrooms. {Photograph}: Joff Lee/Getty Pictures

These are these lengthy, stringy white mushrooms with tiny caps that you simply discover bought in bagged clusters in supermarkets. Enoki may very well be mistaken for beansprouts, and they’re typically featured in soups. “They’re a bit wormy and bizarre,” says Nozedar. “I don’t just like the flavour of them, personally. However my accomplice completely loves them.”

Enoki are discovered wild within the UK, however the cultivated model is inspired to develop lengthy and skinny via elevated publicity to carbon dioxide. Should you use them in salads, they need to be blanched briefly.

Sadly, enoki mushrooms had been America’s most recalled meals of 2022. Imports from Korea, China and Taiwan had been taken off the cabinets 11 instances final 12 months, due to fears of listeria contamination, an issue mentioned to be associated to the excessive humidity wanted for cultivation.

Rooster of the woods

Chicken of the woods.
Fowl tasting … rooster of the woods will get its identify as a result of it actually does style like rooster. {Photograph}: Ivan Marjanovic/Getty Pictures/iStockphoto

This can be a wild, yellow fungus discovered rising on the trunks of bushes, so-called as a result of it actually does style like rooster. “I don’t eat meat and I haven’t performed for years,” says Nozedar. “And the primary time I had rooster of the woods, it felt actually fallacious – so just like the rooster that I had determined I used to be by no means going to eat ever once more. A part of me felt responsible.”

Rooster of the woods is wild and out of season, and is basically included right here to differentiate it from hen of the woods, which additionally goes by the identify maitake.


Dense, frilly headed maitake mushroom.
A frilly headed maitake mushroom. {Photograph}: Larissa Veronesi/Getty Pictures

Hen of the woods and maitake are primarily the identical. “The distinction is one is cultivated and one just isn’t,” says Bebbington. “Hen of the woods is the wild model.” The dense, frilly heads will be brushed with oil and barbecued, entire or halved.


A rare find … a porcini mushroom is picked in the wild.
A uncommon discover … a porcini mushroom is picked within the wild. {Photograph}: Radka Janouskovcova/Getty Pictures

Often known as a cep, or a penny bun, porcini are essentially the most prized of mushrooms, foraged throughout Europe – and right here within the UK – by those that know the place to look.

“It’s most likely the rarest one,” says Lee. “And people jealously guard their porcini searching grounds. Everytime you ask somebody, ‘The place did you get this?” they simply snicker in your face.”

Even high restaurateurs reminiscent of Lee battle to seek out provides throughout the autumn season. “The pecking order is simply completely hilarious, and the price astronomic, so we don’t even think about them any extra,” he says. “However from time to time, there’s a telephone name.”

At the moment of 12 months, you’ll solely encounter dried porcini, and these can range in high quality and situation, says Lee, “from unusual, darkish and wizened-looking to elegant, gentle issues”.

“The rule is: the darker they’re, the much less tender they’re and virtually definitely would require rinsing of any grit.” Like all dried mushrooms, the porcini will have to be reconstituted by steeping them in just-boiled water for 15 to twenty minutes. Gently squeeze out extra moisture and they’re prepared to enter risottos, soups and stews. “Folks get very excited in regards to the ensuing tea-stained liquid, that may typically be fairly bitter,” says Lee. If it’s a lightweight, golden color, it may be used judiciously, like inventory, in a risotto. “If it’s very, very darkish, I’d say simply dispatch it.”