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Food glossary

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

There are two main categories of mushrooms - the familiar cultivated types such as button, chestnut and flat and the more exotic looking wild varieties such as ceps and chanterelles.

Brown cap mushrooms see Chestnut mushrooms.

Button

The most common type of mushroom, these are readily available. They have creamy white caps with pink gills which darken to beige as they grow. Available all year.

Uses: Whole in salads, casseroles and pasta bakes or sliced in sauces, pies and soups.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for a few days.

To prepare: Cultivated mushrooms are usually very clean: just wipe with a kitchen towel or rinse briefly and dry before use. Do not peel. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary.

To cook: Button mushrooms do not require much cooking - fry for 4-5 minutes or add to dishes 5-10 minutes before the end of cooking time.

Ceps

Known as cèpes in France and porcini in Italy, these creamy yellow mushrooms have a good flavour and a velvet-like texture. They are quite meaty and have a spongy underside, rather than gills. Available all year.

Uses: Add cooked ceps to omelettes, pasta or add to stir-fries and mixed mushroom dishes.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for a few days.

To prepare: Scrape the spongy underside away before cooking (it goes soggy) and wipe clean with kitchen paper.

To cook: Fry in butter over a high heat or grill, brushed with olive oil for 5-10 minutes, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley and garlic.

Chanterelle

These creamy-yellow mushrooms are a distinctive frilly trumpet shape with a slightly rubbery texture. They have a firm flesh with a subtle, fruity flavour. Available all year.

Uses: Serve with scrambled eggs for a tasty breakfast, add to creamy pasta sauces or simply serve on toast.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for a few days.

To prepare: They can be a bit tricky to clean - dirt gets stuck under the gills, so they need to be rinsed thoroughly under running water and then gently dried with kitchen paper.

To cook: Sauté in a little butter to release the juices, then turn the heat up to concentrate the flavour.

Chestnut

These have a strong taste and a meaty texture, they have a similar appearance to a button mushroom but are a darker colour. The mushrooms should be open, but not too flat, exposing the pink to dark brown gills on the underside. Available all year.

Uses: They are perfect eaten raw or lightly cooked.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the refrigerator to keep for a few days.

To prepare: Cultivated mushrooms are usually very clean: just wipe with a kitchen towel or rinse briefly and dry before use. Do not peel. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary.

Crimini

These are a similar shape to button mushrooms and are from the same family. However they have light tan to rich brown caps and a firm texture. They have a stronger, earthier flavour than button mushrooms.

Uses: Use with or instead of button mushrooms. They are particularly good in meat and game dishes.

To store: Keep in the fridge, in a paper bag for up to 5 days.

To prepare: Wipe with a kitchen towel or rinse briefly and dry before use. Do not peel. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary.

Enoki

Named after the enoki tree that it grows on, the wild variety has a tiny yellow-orange cap with a long, slender stem, the more common cultivated variety are a creamy colour. They have a sweet, fruity flavour with a slight crunch and are native to Japan where they are widely used. Available all year.

Uses: They are used in Japanese cookery to add flavour to soups, stews and salads.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for a few days.

To prepare: Wipe the mushrooms clean with kitchen paper, trim the roots at the base and separate the stems before serving.

Exotic medley

A ready-mixed 200g pack of exotic organic mushrooms which contains oyster, shiitake and horse mushrooms. Available all year.

Uses: Add cooked exotic mushrooms to omelettes, pasta sauces or serve simply with brown bread and butter.

To store: Keep in the fridge in the pack and consume by the best before date.

To prepare: Rinse briefly under cold running water and dry before use. Do not peel. Chop roughly before cooking.

To cook: Fry in butter over a high heat or grill, brushed with olive oil for 5-10 minutes, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley and garlic.

Gigante

These large mushrooms are matured for longer to achieve a deliciously meaty flavour. They are grown on Dutch farms using a straw-based compost and are exclusive to Waitrose. Available all year.

Uses: Slice and serve as a side dish or add to casseroles or stir-fries. Gigante mushrooms are also ideal for stuffing and baking for a main course or starter.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for 2-3 days.

To prepare: Rinse briefly under cold running water and dry before use. Do not peel. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary. If baking and stuffing remove the stalk before stuffing.

To cook: Grill or fry sliced gigantes in a little butter for 5-10 minutes. To bake, top with butter and place in an ovenproof dish with 4 tbsp cold water, cook in a preheated oven at 190(C, gas mark 5 for 45 minutes or until tender.

Oyster

So called because of their fan-like shape. They grow naturally in woods, in clusters of overlapping tiers, but the cultivated varieties are grown on composted wheat straw. They have a subtle flavour and a chewy texture. Oyster mushrooms are commonly grey but yellow and pink ones are also available. However these lose their colour once cooked. Available all year.

Uses: Add to pasta recipes, risotto or stir-fry with other types of mushroom.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for a few days.

To prepare: Wipe the mushrooms with a kitchen towel and trim the end of the stems. Cook them whole or cut or tear into lengthways strips.

To cook: Fry in vegetable oil, grill or bake beside joints in a roasting tin.

Porcini

Porcinci are wild mushrooms native to the Alpine regions of Italy and France (where they are known as ceps). They have a distinctive aroma and rich flavour. Fresh porcini are only available in late summer and autumn so the dried variety is more commonly used. Only a small amount of dried porcini, around 25-50g, is needed to add an intense flavour to a variety of savoury dishes. Waitrose sell dried porcini mushrooms in the Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients range. Cultivated or mixed wild fresh mushrooms can be used instead of porcini.

Uses: Soaked dried porcini can be added to a variety of savoury dishes in the same way as fresh mushrooms. They are particularly good in pasta dishes, risotto, soups, stews and omelettes. Porcini go particularly well with garlic or fresh herbs such as flat leaf parsley or thyme. The soaking water can be included in risottos, stews and soups.

To store: Keep dried porcini in a cool, dry place and consume by the best before date. Once soaked in water use within 2 hours.

To prepare: Pour 175ml boiling water onto 25g porcini mushrooms and soak for about 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking water, and chop or leave whole as desired.

Portabella

These are large mushrooms with a meaty texture and a wonderful aroma, they can be up to 10cm in diameter. Portabella mushrooms are also known as field mushrooms. Available all year.

Uses: Sauté whole flat mushrooms in a little butter and garlic or remove the stalk and stuff and bake.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for a few days.

To prepare: Wipe with a kitchen towel or rinse briefly and dry before use. Do not peel. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary.

Potabellini

Medium-sized brown mushrooms (about 7cm in diameter) that have a firm texture and a nutty flavour. Waitrose sell prepacked portabellini mushrooms in 250g packs.

Uses: Portabellini mushrooms can be sliced and eaten raw in salads or lightly cooked and included in soups, pasta dishes, casseroles or sauces. They can also be stuffed and baked.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the refrigerator and use by the best before date.To prepare: Rinse thoroughly under cold running water and dry before use. Do not peel. Leave the mushrooms whole or slice as necessary. If baking and stuffing remove the stalk before stuffing.

To cook: Grill or fry sliced portabellinis in a little butter for 5-6 minutes. To bake, top with butter or a savoury stuffing and place in an ovenproof dish with 4 tbsp cold water, cook in a preheated oven at 190C, gas mark 5 for 45 minutes or until tender.

Shiitake

Pronounced 'sheetarky', these mushrooms originated in Japan and Korea and are available fresh or dried. Fresh mushrooms have firm caps and light brown meaty flesh with a pleasant and distinct flavour that lingers on the tongue. They should be plump with curled-under edges. Available all year.

Uses: Add to sauces and stocks, wrap in foil with fish, white meat or vegetables, or chop and use in stuffings for poultry, fish or meat.

To store: Place in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the fridge to keep for a few days.

To prepare: There is no need to wash, just wipe with a kitchen towel. Remove the tough stems and slice or leave the mushroom cap whole.

To cook: Fry in butter or oil; or brush with oil and cook under the grill.

Dried

Many of the more exotic varieties of mushroom are available dried. When reconstituted they have a concentrated flavour.

Dried cep

Wild mushrooms with a nutty flavour, these are especially popular in Italy where they are known as porcini.

Uses: To add to rice and pasta dishes.

To store: Keep in a dry, dark cupboard for up to 1 year.

To prepare: To rehydrate, soak in warm water for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then drain using a sieve, reserve the soaking liquor for use in recipes too.

Dried shiitake

These have a strong, almost meaty flavour. They are used widely in Oriental cuisine and are also known as Chinese black mushrooms.

Uses: Shiitake mushrooms add flavour and interest to stir-fries, sauces and soups.

To store: Keep in a dry, dark cupboard for up to 1 year.

To prepare: To rehydrate, soak in warm water for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then drain using a sieve, reserve the soaking liquor for use in recipes too.

Dried mixed

A delicious combination of cep, chanterelle and fairy ring mushrooms which can be used in a range of recipes.

Uses: In a wide variety of dishes including risottos, pasta dishes, soups and stir-fries.

To store: Keep in a dry, dark cupboard for up to 1 year.

To prepare: To rehydrate, soak in warm water for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then drain using a sieve, reserve the soaking liquor for use in recipes too.