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Edible mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several species of macrofungi. They can appear either below ground or above ground where they may be picked by hand. Edibility may be defined by criteria that include absence of poisonous effects on humans and desirable taste and aroma.

Edible mushrooms are consumed for their nutritional value and they are occasionally consumed for their supposed medicinal value. Edible mushrooms include many fungal species that are either harvested wild or cultivated. Easily cultivatable and common wild mushrooms are often available in markets.

  • Portobello: deep, meat-like flavor and substantial texture. They are delicious whole, sliced, grilled, baked, stir-fried, or deep-fried. Be sure to trim off the dry, fibrous portion of the stem.

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  • Cremini

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  • Shiitake or forest mushroom: has a rich, full-bodied flavor, almost steak-like, with a meaty texture when cooked. These are best when cooked by sautéing and broiling.

Shiitake mushrooms

  • Maitake or hen of the woods

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  • Oyster : also known for its cholesterol-reducing effects. It can be eaten raw in salads but more often this mushroom is cooked to bring out its delicate flavor and velvety texture. Some say this mushroom has a faint oyster-like or seafood flavor that matches its physical likeness to oysters.

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  • Truffles

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  • Champignon or White Button : with a pleasing flavor that intensifies when cooked, have an intensely rich taste, excellent for use both raw and cooked. Also available canned and dried.

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  • Pinewood or Matsutake

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  • Chanterelles : Nutty and delicate in flavor and texture, they are also available dried and canned. Use in salads, sauces and risottos.

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  • Morel: has a smoky, earthy, nutty flavor. The darker the mushroom, the more pronounced is the flavor.

Morel mushrooms

  • Enoki: The flavor is light and mild, almost fruity, with a crisp texture. They are also available canned. Use in sandwiches, salads and as garnishes.

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  • Porcini: have a smooth, meaty texture with a pungent flavor.

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  • Beech mushrooms

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  • King trumpet mushrooms

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  • Black trumpet mushrooms

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  • Hedgehog or sweet tooth

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Mushrooms are a great option for new vegetarians. Its thick and meaty texture make them a great meat substitute. (Check meat substitutes here ). They have plenty of fiber and they are very nutricious which help make you feel satiated after a meal. They can be incorporated to your diet with rissotos, soups, sauces, they can be dried or fresh, raw or cooked, which makes them very adaptable to any diet and cooking methods. If they are stored, they could attract microorganisms that you could put your gut flora out of balance. So always check the conditions in which you store them.

However, edible mushrooms are highly micotic. They are acid-forming and full of micotoxins. All contain a minimum of 5 ingredients that are known to cause cancer. They contain various levels of amanitin. In research done with animals in laboratories, these micotoxins were associated with cancer in the lungs,  stomach and thyroid in the mice.

It’s good to know both sides of the story. Eating them cooked seems much safer if you have common sense.

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