Everyday Food, Volume 28 December 2005

Cultivated mushrooms are not only sliced in salads and cooked in sauces, they can also be the main ingredient of a dish.

Types of Mushrooms
The most common varieties of cultivated mushrooms include shiitake (intense mushroom taste), white (mild), portobello (meaty), and cremini (similar to white, with a fuller flavor).

Look for firm, smooth, and dry caps. Avoid damp, pitted, or dried-out mushrooms.

Refrigerate loose mushrooms (unrinsed) in a paper bag, and containers of mushrooms in their original package. Use within a few days of purchase.

Do not soak mushrooms -- they will absorb water rapidly and turn mushy when you cook them. You can clean mushrooms with a stiff brush without wetting them, or quickly rinse them under a thin stream of cool water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Shiitakes have tough inedible stems that should be removed. For white mushrooms (called button when small), cremini, and portobellos, trim the spongy tip; the rest is edible.


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