White button mushrooms are the most commonly cultivated mushrooms in North America. White to cream in colour, they have a mild flavour that intensifies when cooked. They have a closed veil that opens to reveal gills as they age. White button mushrooms are excellent in anything, from salads to soups to side dishes.
Also known as portabellas, these large brown mushrooms are closely related to whites. Most are at least three inches in diameter and have open veils, revealing the gills underneath. Their meaty texture and intense mushroom flavour make them a good choice for vegetarian dishes.
Similar to the white button mushrooms, these rich brown coloured mushrooms are actually portobellos harvested at an early stage. Criminis have a milder flavour than portobellos, but a stronger, slightly sweeter flavour than white mushrooms. They may be substituted for white mushrooms in any recipe.
Shiitake mushrooms have dark brown caps and white, woody stems. They have a very meaty texture and a strong flavour. The stems, which are usually too tough to be eaten, are good for flavouring stocks and soups.
These fluted, soft grey mushrooms grow in clusters. They have a velvety texture and a very delicate flavour. Oysters are good sautéed in butter on their own, or with seafood, eggs, or chicken.
These cream-coloured mushrooms have long stems and tiny caps. They have a mild flavour and a slight crunch. Enoki are good raw or slightly cooked in sandwiches and salads. Their interesting shape also makes them good for garnishing.
Morels range in colour from brown to yellow to black to grey. About 2 inches tall, they have short, hollow stems and pointed caps full of pits and ridges, like a sponge. They have a slightly nutty flavour and lend themselves well to many different types of dishes.
These yellow-to-orange mushrooms are found in the fall, especially after a lot of rain. Their bright colour and distinctive shape make them easy to spot. They have a funnel-like shape and are curled around the edges. Underneath, they have folds that resemble gills. Chanterelles are usually described as having a sweet, apricot-like flavour. They are often used in omelets, soups and with seafood.
Also known as porcini or cepes, the king bolete is a large mushroom with a reddish-brown cap and a thick, white stem. Instead of gills, they have white or yellow pores underneath the cap. They have a delicate texture and taste a bit like hazelnuts. King boletes are good for use with pasta, chicken or fish, or in sauces.
Also known as hen-of-the-woods, maitake are grey or brown-coloured mushrooms. They grow in an overlapping, leafy formation, usually about the size of a head of lettuce. They have a deep, rich flavour that is good sautéed or in soups.