Mushrooms are estimated to have 140.000 species on earth, among which there are only 14.000 known species. Edible mushrooms account for less than 10% of the known species.
Mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes. The success of the Dutch mushroom growers has not gone unnoticed. Research into cultivating other mushrooms has been done and is still ungoing, giving the consumer a wide range to choose from.
White button mushroom
Everybody knows the white button mushroom. The button mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus) is the most widely cultivated, harvested and distributed mushroom in the world. It’s usually sold at about 3 centimetres; the accepted size for harvesting. White button mushrooms have a fairly mild and delicate flavour and blend well with almost everything. Now and then, the shops will sell extra large mushrooms. They are perfect for stuffing.
The cave mushroom is still grown in caves and quarries, specifically in the marl pits of Limburg in the Netherlands and the Loire Valley in France. The cave mushroom has a creamy white colour and has a firmer structure than the button mushroom.
Organic mushrooms look just like the plain white button mushroom. Cultivation is different though: only purely organic ingredients are being used. Organic mushrooms usually have a slightly richer flavour. According to growers, organic compost contains more nutrients and this is reflected in the flavour of the mushroom.
Light brown chestnut mushrooms or cremini are relatively new on the market. The chestnut mushroom is closely related to the white mushroom and is similar in size and shape. They have a firmer texture and deeper flavour because they contain more dry matter (more ‘meat’). They are great for frying, but need a bit more time to cook.
Portobello’s are fully grown chestnut mushrooms. They are sold without the stem. They have a full mushroom flavour and are suitable for stuffing. The firm meat can even be grilled.
Chantarelles – or girolles – range in colour from pale yellow to egg yolk yellow and have a rolled in, wavy edge. The funnel-shaped caps have wrinkles instead of gills on the underside. The meat is fibrous and tastes mildly peppery.
Porcini mushrooms – or ceps – are firm mushrooms with a delicious nutty taste. They can even be grilled on a barbecue.
The enokitake is nice and white with thin, long stems and a small cap. It is grown and sold in bunches. Enoki are mild tasting and crunchy.
The oyster mushroom is named after its oyster-shaped cap. It is grown on bags of straw and water. Oyster mushrooms have a soft, meaty flavour.
Shiitake mushrooms originated in China and Japan. They’re rich in protein and have a round, brown, flat cap. They can be recognized by their distinctive smell. The meat is firm, juicy and aromatic.