How to select for best flavor:
Button mushrooms — the most important thing to look for is a closed cap. Mushrooms with an open cap and exposed gills are old. Choose firm, plump mushrooms with even color. Never buy spotted or slimy mushrooms.
Specialty mushrooms — they should be fresh-looking and blemish free. Avoid slimy or spotted mushrooms.
Peak of the season:
Commercially grown mushrooms are grown indoors and are available all year. The price can be fairly high in the summer and usually somewhat lower during the winter. The majority of button mushrooms come from Pennsylvania. Specialty mushrooms are often wild and will be available sporadically, usually during the spring and fall. Most of them come from the Pacific Northwest.
Mushrooms are generally an excellent source of phosphorous, potassium, iron and B vitamin complex. One cup of raw button mushrooms has about 20 calories, no fat and 3 mgs. of sodium.
You should never peel or soak mushrooms in water. They should be stored in the refrigerator with plenty of air circulation around them. Button mushrooms will last a week or a little more. Other types should be eaten right away.
Here are some of the varieties you will find:
Button — this is the most common type and are white or tannish brown. They store well and are very versatile.
Chanterelle — these are trumpet-shaped and apricot color. They have a very delicate flavor and are excellent sautÃ©ed. Most chanterelles grow wild in the Pacific Northwest.
Enoki — these are tiny mushrooms with long stems that look kind of like bean sprouts. You eat them raw in salad. They are cultivated in California, Malaysia and Japan.
Morel — these are only available wild and are fairly rare. They have an elongated dome shape and a spongy appearance. They have excellent flavor.
Oyster — these have a smooth texture and can range from pale white to nearly black in color. They have a slight seafood flavor.
Shiitake — these are large and flat with a woody aroma. They are usually sold dried.