Love mushrooms? It’s highly likely you’re missing out on some of the best varieties you can eat. Most supermarkets tend to keep only the most popular mushrooms in stock. But if you head to a specialty market, you’ll be in for a treat when you want to try new flavors and textures.
Mushrooms are incredibly good for you. They come packed with gobs of nutrients and phytochemicals that you don’t get from the other fruits and vegetables you eat. They’re also naturally fat-free, high in fiber, and loaded with antioxidants.
Most mushrooms have medicinal qualities too, meaning they can give your health a boost in the right direction. Read on to discover the variety of mushrooms you can choose from to add flavor and extra nutrition to your meals!
Black Trumpet Mushroom
Craterullus cornocopioides is just too hard to say so let’s go with black trumpet mushroom instead. With a funnel shape, it’s not quite as attractive as other mushrooms, but don’t judge this mushroom from the mossy earth of hardwood forests.
It comes with tons of protein to keep you going, plus it has sugar alcohols which lend a nice, sweet taste and lower net carbs compared to sweet vegetables.
Crumble this onto your dishes for the dried version or use fresh ones in savory meals. With anti-tumor effects, black trumpet mushrooms can help safeguard your health!
If you regularly purchase mushrooms at your local supermarket, chances are, you’re buying Agaricus bisporus, better known as the button mushroom. In both white and brown varieties, you’ll find these with ease. They have a mild taste that works in any dish from spicy to savory.
Originally, they were cultivated in the late 1800s only as of the brown variety but a mutation caused a single white one to grow. The rest is history for this mushroom that natively grows on the grasslands of Europe and North America. Since they contain polysaccharides, they possess anti-cancer powers that will give you even more reason to add them to your meals.
A pretty name for a pretty mushroom, the chanterelle mushroom is a common name for several different species of fungi of Cantharellus, Craterellus, Gomphus, and Polyozellus. Of all the edible wild mushrooms, these are the most popular of all, usually with a yellow or orange hue.
They have a unique funnel shape and a flavor that is treasured in European and North American cuisine. Almost as revered as truffles, these peppery yet fruity mushrooms provide a rich flavor that makes them heavenly in sauces, soups, and main dishes.
You won’t just love chanterelle mushrooms for their renowned flavor profile. They have what it takes to provide protection from oxidative damages plus boost your immunity.
Charcoal Burner Mushroom
Russula cyanoxantha is the scientific name for the charcoal burner mushroom. It’s one of the most commonly wild-harvested mushrooms found in Europe. With a soft flesh and non-brittle gills, it has a slightly nutty flavor which makes it extremely versatile.
While it is softer raw, it has a nice texture when cooked in all your favorite ways for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Try it in omelets, soups, or stews and get a bounty of health benefits including more antioxidants to fight free radicals and anti-tumor properties.
Cremini mushrooms can be a little confusing. With Agaricus bisporus, you must remember that this is the original brown variety of those button mushrooms that now are all white. They’re basically an immature version of the portabella mushroom and can be found as “baby bella” at your supermarket.
You know what to do with these…delicious raw or cooked, cremini mushrooms make a fine addition to anything you prepare that’s spicy or savory and give you good gut bacteria while improving immunity.
Enoki mushrooms are rather cute. They tend to be white or light with long stems and small caps. Known as Flammulina velutipes scientifically, these are often in the supermarket too. You can throw them in a stir-fry for a fun Asian meal.
They have a naturally slimy texture that works beautifully when cooked in a wok. Soups work well for enoki mushrooms too. Regardless of how you eat them, you’ll be glad to know that they’re highly nutritious and can help with heart health, immunity, and may prevent tumors.
It is advised to not consumed Enoki Mushroom for now because of its links to a Listeria outbreak.
If you enjoy button mushrooms, then perhaps the field mushroom is worth tasting. It grows in the meadows of America and Europe. You can prepare it much like you would with button mushrooms.
Agaricus campestris has a short life cycle which makes it a bit hard to harvest it in massive amounts. But if you can find it and add it to your salads and cooked dishes, you’ll enjoy a bounty of health benefits from strengthened immunity to enhanced nutrition.
Why is it called the hedgehog mushroom? Good ol’ Hydnum umbilicatum doesn’t have gills or pores like its other mushroom playmates. Instead, it has these teethlike things that make it look much like the spikes on a hedgehog.
Don’t be afraid though, for these smokey-flavored darlings are purely enjoyable to eat. They have a crunchier texture too, even after you sauté them. These highly nutritious mushrooms happen to be antimicrobial and tumor-fighting so dig in!
Bay Bolete Mushroom
The bay bolete mushroom is known in the scientific community as Boletus badius. But if you can’t pronounce that, don’t worry. It’s distantly related to porcini. You’ll find them in Europe and North America, growing in the woods or on decaying tree stumps.
The bay bolete mushroom has firm flesh that you’ll enjoy, making it a prime substitute for meat in your meals. It’s best to discard the stems as they can be fibrous and unrelenting.
When you eat these mushrooms, you’re treated to free radical fighting powers. Younger mushrooms can be enjoyed raw on top of salads but older ones are best when dried out. You can also cook young or old bay bolete mushrooms in butter or a vegan version of butter if you’d prefer.
King Bolete Mushroom
Get to know this porcini mushroom that has the scientific name of Boletus edulis and you’ll wonder why you never put more of it on your plate before. This large mushroom is adored by chefs because it lends a wonderful nutty taste and is extremely versatile to work with.
Younger caps lend a smooth and creamy texture while the older ones tend to be dried out. Native to the northern hemisphere, you’ll now find it in the southern latitudes as well. Rich in amino acids, B vitamins, magnesium, and other essential minerals, you can only improve your health with king-bolete mushrooms!
Scientists call them Pleurotus ostreatus and all you really need to know is that oyster mushrooms, a staple in Asian cuisine, are delicious and nutritious. OK, perhaps you want to know more than that! These were used for food rations during WWI but what a treat of an ingredient!
Mild in flavor with a touch of bitter almond taste, these mushrooms feed on worms and bacteria. On top of a high nutrition profile, oyster mushrooms are great for heart health, immune strength, and blood sugar control. You will love them in pasta dishes, omelets, stews, and really just about anything you can whip up!
King Oyster Mushroom
The signature trumpet shape of the king oyster mushrooms is unmistakable. Pleurotus eryngii has a wide base topped off with an inverted cap. You’ll find it very meaty, though a bit tasteless when it’s raw. But cook with it and it brings the umami to all your dishes. Aside from tasting amazing when cooked in just about anything, king oyster mushrooms are great for colon health. They’re also antiviral, antimicrobial, and support your immune system. Staying healthy has never been quite so delicious with this type of fungi!
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Shaggy and white, it’s much easier to call it the lion’s mane mushroom than refer to it scientifically as Hericium erinaceus. Once you see it, you’ll understand the reasoning for its moniker. Lion’s mane is a treasure for its medicinal properties though has a taste akin to lobster.
If you’re a gourmand, you’ve perhaps had the pleasure of sampling this mushroom. The long list of health benefits you’ll gain from eating this unusual-looking fungus includes immune strength, reducing oxidation, and anti-cancer properties.
In Asian cooking, particularly Japanese, Grifola frondose or the maitake mushroom has a weird ribbon-like appearance. From the Japanese word that means “dancing mushroom,” it can sometimes be called “hen of the woods.” But call it whatever makes you happy, and with maitake mushrooms, it is said that’s just what it will do – make you happy.
It’s earthy and rich, an ideal addition to meals with deep flavors that would otherwise detract from other mushrooms. Rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins B and C, copper, and gobs of other nutrients, maitake mushrooms are treasured not just for their flavor but also for their cholesterol-reducing benefits, among others.
Found in North American hardwood forests, the morel mushroom, or Morchella esculenta, has a cap that resembles a honeycomb. Much like truffles, these rare mushrooms are hard to cultivate so they must be harvested from the wilds making them an expensive ingredient.
But if you have the pleasure to sample them, they’re divine inside ravioli or served with meats. They can’t be eaten raw though since cooking them is what neutralizes the toxins they contain. When you eat them, you’ll be treated to B vitamins plus many other nutrients that will support your best health.
Call it portobello or portabella. They’re both right, just as the scientific name of Agaricus bisporus is too. It’s quite well known in the Western world, often a menu item for meatless and vegan dishes because it has a texture and flavor that is akin to meat.
Portobello mushroom sandwich, anyone? As one of the most popular mushrooms, you might be surprised to learn it’s just a more mature version of cremini mushrooms. Ah, but it’s still delicious, and this meatless yet meaty-flavored mushroom can help with fighting cancer, taming inflammation, and much more!
The fan-like shape of reishi mushrooms with its deep red hue is something you may recognize. However, even though Ganoderma lingzhi is fully edible, it’s most often used as a powdered supplement.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it has been utilized for centuries for memory and boosting energy. Some say it makes you immortal but science has yet to prove that. What has been proven though is that reishi might be helpful for cancer patients during treatment. It is believed its rich content of phytochemicals may be the reason why it’s so beneficial to your health.
Lentinula edodes, better known as the shiitake mushroom, has a long-standing reputation in its native lands of China and other East Asian countries. Over the years though, shiitake mushrooms have made an impression in the West. Large and brown, they lend umami flavor to your dishes.
When cooked, they have a sublime texture akin to velvet. Stems usually have a tougher texture but if you want to make use of them (as you should!) you will find that cooking them longer than the caps gives renders them a chewy texture you’ll enjoy.
Heart health and immune health are just a couple of the wonderful benefits you’ll get from eating shiitake mushrooms, though some may argue the taste of eating them is the best benefit of all.
With a gray hue and an egg shape, Volvariella volvacea or the straw mushroom is cultivated in straw which is where it gets its name. These mushrooms are quite popular in their native Asia where you’ll find them worked into a number of delicious dishes.
Want to use them in your kitchen? You’ll usually find them canned or dried but they’ll still be great in a stir-fry. After cooking, they become slippery in texture. The flavor is mild and enjoyable, a perfect partner to pair with other ingredients.
Since they help scavenge free radicals, prevent cancer cell growth, and make the bones and heart stronger, among a number of other benefits, it can’t hurt to start eating straw mushrooms in more of your meals!
Wood Blewit Mushroom
If you’re the kind of adventurous eater that’s looking for a thrill, Clitocybe nuda, the wood blewit mushroom, might just be right up your alley. These wide-capped and large mushrooms can be found natively in Europe and North America. But they tend to give people an allergic reaction when eaten raw.
Sometimes when cooked, it can cause a reaction as well, but only for highly sensitive individuals. Still, if you’d like to try it, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor for it is an incredibly nutritious mushroom. A simple sauté with fresh herbs from your garden is really the best way to take a taste, though make sure you are sure it’s wood blewit. Some poisonous varieties tend to look the same!
Wood Ear Mushroom
Auricularia auricula-judae or the wood ear mushroom is brown with a slightly translucent appearance. While it’s less common in the Western world, you’ll see it in Asian cuisine. It’s inedible when raw so you have to cook it, though this takes a while, making this mushroom ideal for soups.
With an unusual taste and rubbery texture, it’s not to everyone’s liking, however, it’s a very nutritious addition to your meal. Known for improving heart health plus fighting cancer and oxidation, wood ear mushrooms are wonderful for a healthy lifestyle.
Yellow Knight Mushroom
The yellow knight mushroom is a bit chunky with a wide and flat top. You’ll find this one, known as Tricholoma equestre, in Europe. And when you do, you’ll be treated to a delicate and rich flavor all at once.
But do be careful as this mushroom, while popular, has poisonous properties. As such, you may not want to consume it very often and reserve it for a delicacy much in the way the pufferfish is treated.
Adored by the nobility of Roman times, Caesar’s mushroom, Amanita caesarea, natively grows in Southern Europe and Northern Africa. The most popular way to enjoy it is when it’s in the early button stage. It’s simply delicious while raw with olive oil and salt, but when you fry it up with spices, it’s a whole new level of amazing.
No medical studies can confirm its benefits, though it is rich with antioxidants, making Caesar’s mushroom a healthy addition to your meals.
If cauliflower can become pizza, then it can become a mushroom too, right? Well, kind of. The cauliflower mushroom, Sparassis crispa, is not related to cauliflower. It just gets the name by looking like cauliflower. It’s a fascinating specimen with an incredible flavor.
Preparing them is a bit of a pain as all the crevices trap in the dirt you’ll have to be sure to clear away first, but the reward is an amazing flavor you’ll surely adore. Enjoy this mushroom in soups and let it soak up the flavor of your broth.
The cauliflower mushroom comes out with a texture like thin noodles this way, or you can enjoy it alongside red meat for an opulent pairing. With anti-tumor capabilities and immune stimulation, you’ll be benefiting your health and your taste buds all at once!
Crab Brittlegill Mushroom
Russula xerampelina is about as normal looking as mushrooms go. It gets the distinctive name from the distinctive odor it emits when it’s fresh. The smell is like cooked crab and it has this brittle gills that taste a bit bitter.
Commonly found in the coniferous woodlands of Europe and North America, these edible mushrooms are ideal for anyone that enjoys seafood since that crablike aroma lingers even after cooking.
If you’re not a fan of shellfish, you may be turned off by the smell. As an anti-tumor and anti-parasitic mushroom, you’ll discover excellent health benefits when you try the crab brittlegill mushroom.
The wide cap of the parasol mushroom resembles a parasol, hence the name which is far easier to say than the scientific one of Macrolepiota procera. It has a thin and long stalk and a scaled cap which helps for identification purposes.
One of the best ways to eat this lovely mushroom is by coating it with bread crumbs and frying it. Doing so will start off any meal on a tasty note. The benefits you get from eating parasol mushrooms are that these are extremely nutritious and they offer some anti-cancer protection.
Turkey Tail Mushroom
With its rich colors that resemble a turkey’s tail, Trametes versicolor has long been regarded as a mushroom to use for better health. This medicinal mushroom is rich in antioxidants that boost immunity and may even fight cancer. It also helps balance gut bacteria which not only impacts digestion but also the immune system balance.
If good health is important to you, this mushroom should be included in your diet. It tends to be chewy though so you’ll most likely find it as a tea or powder prepared in capsules making it far easier to swallow!
More on Mushrooms to Bring to the Table
If you love mushrooms, you can see there are so many varieties of them to try that go beyond those popular buttons and cremini mushrooms you usually see at the supermarket. To find new varieties, especially from Asian lands, you can visit your local Asian markets. Often, you’ll find dried versions of them that can be rehydrated in water and added to your culinary creations.
Check out your local farmer’s markets too to see if you can find any fresh harvests of unique mushrooms that you don’t often see. Trying these different edible mushrooms gives you a variety of health benefits that add more nutrition to your meals and in some cases, can really give your health a huge boost. Which one will you try first?
About the Author
Lori Bogedin is a health and wellness writer and editor of TwigsCafe.com. She is in the restaurant business since 1999. In 2016 she was named one of the "Top Women in Business" by Northeastern Pennsylvania Business Journal.