Many of you who ordered the Saxapahaw Farm Fresh Boxes this week might be picking them up today or this weekend, digging through your bag of goodies and thinking “This is awesome, but what are all these different kinds of mushrooms, and how can I use them?” Excellent question, because there’s so many more amazing edible mushrooms than just the white button and portobellos that you might be used to, but it’s good to expand your culinary horizons. So let’s take a brief look at some of your new mushrooms, and what you might be able to do with them.
Haw River Mushrooms is truly a local treasure. While many rural areas have lots of people who raise cows, pigs, and chickens, and people who grow all kinds of traditional plant produce, Ches and Laura Stewart of Haw River Mushrooms have been providing the NC with lots of unique fungal veggie offerings that you may have never considered before…but they’re delicious!
In your bag of mushrooms, you’ll find the following:
Blue Oyster Mushrooms
Snow Oyster Mushrooms
Wild or cultivated oyster mushrooms are a great addition to a meal, if you cook them in a way that highlights their delicate flavor. Wash the oyster mushrooms well and trim away the tough center stalk. Slice or chop the oyster mushrooms before you quickly sauté them. Oyster mushrooms are also great in stir-fries because they cook quickly and add a meaty texture.
Shiitake mushrooms might be the only one you’re familiar with right away. It’s popular in many types of cuisine, and is often sauteed, stir-fried or marinated. Shiitake mushrooms have a slightly different texture from the other mushrooms. Once cooked, shiitake mushrooms have a meaty flavor and texture. They are chewy and are very juicy.
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Lion’s mane mushrooms are unique. You can see where they get their name, as they look like a large bushy lion’s mane. You should always eat lion’s mane mushrooms cooked, never raw. They’ve got a taste similar to scallops, crab or lobster, and can often be substituted in dishes for seafood. Haw River Mushrooms makes some amazing “crab” cakes using lion’s mane.
Cinnamon Cap Mushrooms
Cinnamon Cap mushrooms are small in size, averaging 3-10 centimeters in diameter, and grow in tight clusters with convex caps on top of tall, slender stems. The caps are firm and can range in color from golden-orange to brick red depending on maturity, and the color gradually fades to white around the edges. The top of the cap may also contain some white flakes. The crowded gills are cream to ivory when young, turning a purple-grey to brown as the mushroom ripens and the stem is slender and off-white to pale yellow. Cinnamon Cap mushrooms have a light, woodsy scent, and when cooked, they retain their firm, crisp texture and offer a mild, earthy, nutty taste, which may become bitter as they mature.
And most importantly…enjoy!