What's the Difference
in Mushroom Flavors?
by John Ryan
White and brown mushrooms taste pretty much the same. If they are really fresh, I think brown ones taste a little richer, but after they've been picked a week or so, I can't tell the difference.
A portobello, on the other hand, is more mature-ripe, as it were. It will have a much richer, more concentrated mushroom flavor than a white or brown mushroom.
How to Pick Good Ones
- First, keep in mind that size doesn't affect flavor. Tiny white mushrooms (also called button mushrooms) taste the same as medium or large white mushrooms. The same with portobellos: small 3-inch ports taste the same as monster 10-inchers. The real issue is what you're going to do with them.
- If you are buying white or brown mushrooms for marinated mushrooms, or want them bite-sized for a stew, it's nice to get really tiny ones so you don't have to cut them up. If you're after mushrooms to slice or chop, medium is the size you want because they are easier to work with. For stuffing, you definitely want large 'shrooms.
- It's the same story with portobellos. If you're using them for risotto or soup, it really doesn't matter what size you buy. If you are grilling them for a sandwich, buy ones that will fit on your bread. And if you're going for a spectacular presentation, you'll want a big dinner-plate sized port. But let's get to picking them out.
More About Mushrooms
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
Just Good Food Archive
This page created 1997. Modified August 2007.