More than 10,000 species of mushrooms grow wild in North America, but only about 20 varieties are cultivated for eating. Here are some of the most common:
Button: The common white button is the most popular edible mushroom by far. Their mild flavor and versatility makes them a good choice for many dishes, cooked or fresh.
Chanterelle: These flared fungi look like golden trumpets and have a delicate fruity flavor that pairs well with pork or ham. Excellent roasted or sautéed, but don’t overcook; they’ll get tough and chewy.
Crimini: Also called cremini or baby bella, this popular brown-capped mushroom is actually the same species as white button and portobello. Developed by commercial growers, this fungi has a heartier flavor than its white button cousin and is used the same way.
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Enoki: Delicate and crisp, this little mushroom has spaghetti-thin stems topped by tiny white or tan caps. Eat them fresh in salads or as a garnish; cooking makes them tough.
Morel: Gems of the mushroom world, these distinctive fungi with a honey-comb cap offer nutty, smoky flavor. Best sautéed in butter or added to sauces.
Oyster: These fan-shaped tree mushrooms get their nickname from their seafoodlike flavor. Raw, they can be peppery and pungent; cooking improves their flavor. Great for stews.
Porcini: Called cépes in France, this meaty brown mushroom is tasty fresh or cooked. Excellent in soups, stews or stuffings.
Portobello: A favorite meat substitute, this popular giant is actually just an oversized cremini that’s grown until its cap is expanded and fully mature.
Shiitake: Also known as Chinese black mushrooms, this fungi has a steaklike flavor and meaty brown caps. They work well in dishes with strong flavors or served sautéed on their own. The cooked stems tend to be tough to chew; use them to flavor stock.