Top 5 Gourmet Mushrooms That’ll Change Your Cooking for the Better
Gourmet mushrooms are steadily making their way into more cuisines worldwide, adding texture, unique taste, and an extra kick to already popular dishes. But what are the best gourmet mushroom types for cooking?
You may be familiar with the ubiquitous button mushroom. It is a commonly available mushroom that, according to a study, represented up to 90% of the mushrooms consumed in the United States. However, the button mushroom is not considered gourmet; it is relatively inexpensive, very common, and almost void of flavor.
Gourmet mushrooms are a sub-type of edible mushrooms highly valued for their unique flavors, textures, and nutritional value. Gourmet mushroom types are considered delicacies and are often found in high-end cuisine and gourmet dishes.
In this post, we list 5 popular gourmet mushroom types to grow and bring bold flavors to your kitchen table.
What are Gourmet Mushrooms?
Before we get to the list of best gourmet mushrooms: what are gourmet mushrooms, exactly?
As mentioned above, they’re known for their complex flavors and textures and are often found in high-end dishes. Gourmet mushroom types are often more expensive and rare. As such, many are more commonly found in high-end restaurants and specialty grocers, not your local supermarket (dried shiitake being a notable exception).
These mushrooms can be cultivated or foraged in the wild. Most gourmet mushroom types require a specific environment to flourish. If the conditions can be replicated, they can be cultivated. Some gourmet mushroom types, such as truffle, are tough to cultivate and are usually foraged.
Other gourmet mushrooms like Shiitake and Oyster can be easily cultivated. Since local restaurants often seek gourmet mushrooms, small-scale cultivation can be lucrative.
If you’re looking for the best gourmet mushrooms to grow at home, check out our selection at PNW Spore Co. for a wide range of high-quality gourmet and medicinal mushroom spore syringes to grow or study.
List of Popular Gourmet Mushrooms
1. Shiitake Mushroom
The Shiitake mushroom is what many people think of any time they hear of gourmet mushrooms. Shiitake, also called Lentinula edodes, is native to East Asia’s warm and moist climates. The good news is they can be easily cultivated.
Shiitakes are popularly used in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines. Their flavor is rich and filled with umami, which gives them a savory taste. They can be used fresh or dried, but opt for the dried ones for a more intense flavor.
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2. Blue Oyster
Blue Oyster mushroom, also called Pleurotus columbinus, is a popular gourmet mushroom type often used in soups, stir-frys and risottos. Like Shiitakes, they grow naturally on decaying wood but are also easily cultivated in controlled settings.
The Blue Oyster mushroom has a meaty texture and can have a flowery or fishy odor. The Blue Oyster has a delicate taste described as earthy, umami, and a ‘seafoody’ flavor. This makes it an excellent option for a standalone side dish or a tasty fungi-based meat substitute.
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3. Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms are rare, and if you can find them, you will likely pay a pretty penny. Despite that, they are beloved by culinary experts and are a staple of haute cuisine in France. Morels are conical in shape and have an exterior akin to a honeycomb.
Morels are very flavorful and are famous for their nutty, earthy, woodsy flavors and occasional smokiness. These mushrooms have a meaty texture which, along with their decadent taste and shape, add an extra layer of complexity to any dish.
4. Golden Enoki Mushrooms
Enoki mushrooms, also known as Flammulina velutipes or the golden needle mushroom, are gourmet mushrooms that grow naturally on the stumps of trees in the wild but can also be cultivated. These mushrooms have long, slender stems up to five inches and small caps.
Enoki mushrooms have a soft nutty, slightly fruity taste and a unique chewy texture that makes them very popular in Japanese cuisine. They are easy to cook and are used in Japanese soups, noodle dishes, stir-fries, and curries.
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5. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane, or Hericium erinaceus, is a gourmet mushroom type known for its seafood-like taste, reminiscent of crab or lobster flavors. As the name suggests, this mushroom has a furry-like appearance.
Lion’s Mane typically grows on dead tree trunks and almost always grows alone rather than in groups. This mushroom shreds much like crab meat, which along with the taste, makes an ideal seafood substitute in vegan recipes.
Lion’s Mane is tender and juicy when cooked. Include them in your favorite soups or dishes that need sea flavors. Lion’s Mane is also a popular medicinal mushroom believed to help boost immunity and protect against dementia, depression, and anxiety.
Lion’s Mane spores are available at PNW Spore Co. online shop.
What are the Best Gourmet Mushrooms?
There is no simple answer to this, as individual needs differ. However, some names will come up whether you are looking for the best gourmet mushroom types to grow at home, buy, or cook.
Mushrooms such as Shiitake and Lion’s Mane are used in various cuisines and can be used to substitute meats and seafood. However, when it comes to growing them, Lion’s Mane is a bit more difficult to grow for beginners; Shiitakes, on the other hand, are relatively easy to cultivate.
Maitake, or Hen of the Wood, is one of the most flavorful gourmet mushrooms. If you are going for flavor, truffles, morels, Portobello, and Shiitake are other great gourmet mushroom types. You can even use them to supplement other mushrooms.
How to Grow & Sell Mushrooms for Restaurants
If you want to grow mushrooms to sell to restaurants, the first step is researching what gourmet mushroom types are popular in your area or target market. Several factors will determine the popularity of gourmet mushrooms in your area.
Atop the list is the popular cuisine in your region. Different cuisines call for different gourmet mushroom types. For example, Portobello and Porcini are favorites in Italian cuisine; Morels and Truffles are traditionally used in French cooking, while Shiitakes and Enoki are popular in Japanese cuisine.
Another factor is availability. Restaurants tend to prefer consistently available mushrooms such as Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms over hard-to-cultivate, seasonal mushrooms such as Morels. Some, such as oyster mushrooms, have a short shelf life, which may provide an advantage for local farmers who can deliver quickly.
Another thing to consider is the restaurants’ clientele. High-end or upscale restaurants are likely to buy exotic gourmet mushrooms such as Black Truffles and Matsutake. However, these are much harder to cultivate.
Like any other business, it’s advisable to do some research. Whatever gourmet mushroom type you settle on, you will need high-quality spore syringes to start with. Here’s where we come in. PNW Spore Co. is the leading online store in the U.S., offering a wide range of medicinal and gourmet mushroom spore syringes.
At PNW Spore Co., we provide generously filled 10cc liquid culture syringes with a 1.5” 18 gauge sterile dispensing needle for easy use. Buy gourmet spore syringes online today and enjoy free standard shipping on orders over $100!