Fungus Among Us: Mushrooms, Part 2

MushroomCollage1featured from left to right: brown beech, white beech, white button, portabello

There are an unbelievable amount of mushrooms available in the store right now. And while you might be frightened by the looks of some of them, rest assured, they're all delicious and filled with phytonutrients. Here's some basic information about them and some ideas for how to use them.

Brown and White Beech:  Beech mushrooms, or Bunashimeji, have a nutty, buttery flavor, and a firm, crunchy texture. The mushrooms grow in clusters and produce tender caps. These mushrooms tend to be a little more bitter than other mushrooms, but cooking will mellow the flavor. They are packed with immune-boosting phytonutrients. They have also been shown to lower triglycerides, or fat in the blood. They make a great addition to a stir-fry when cooked with lots of garlic.

White Button: Probably the most cultivated mushroom and most commonly seen in groceries stores. Because they are harvested so early in their growth (let them grow longer and you get cremini mushrooms), they are extremely firm and mild in flavor. They are a great source of potassium (actually higher than a banana!) and also help reduce levels of estrogen (an over-abundance of estrogen can lead to breast cancer). They're delicious when sauteed with white wine and garlic and also make a great appetizer when stuffed with herbs and goat cheese.

Portobello: Portobello mushrooms are actually in the most mature stage of growth (they start as button, turn to cremini and then grow into portobellos). They make an attractive meat substitute to vegetarians because of they're hearty texture and deep flavor. They are often used instead of steak of hamburger patties as a low fat, nutrient rich option.