For centuries, mushrooms have been used to enhance meals while promoting overall health benefits. While there are more than 14,000 species of mushrooms, not all are edible. Some can be toxic or hallucinogenic, so let’s look at 23 different types of mushrooms and what you can expect from them – the good, the bad, the ugly.
Walk into any grocery store, and you’ll find an array of mushrooms – ready to add to your favorite recipes for an earthy, rich, or even sweet flavor depending on the mushroom. If you find yourself out walking, here are 20 edible mushrooms to look out for.
Beech mushrooms commonly grow on Beech trees, which is how they got their name. These mushrooms are a staple in many diets, though how you prepare them will impact their taste. When eaten raw, Beech mushrooms will taste bitter. However, they will waste sweet and nutty when cooked, with a crunchy texture.
Thanks to their shape and size, Beech mushrooms are also called clamshell mushrooms. They grow in clusters and are small and thin with a distinctive brown cap. They’re native to East Asia, though also grown in the United States, Australia, and Europe.
Black Truffle Mushrooms
Black truffles are named for their appearance, and they’re one of the most expensive truffles on the market today. They’re challenging to grow and take years to cultivate and mature, making them scarce. If you’re looking to purchase Black Truffles, you’ll pay up to $1,500 per pound.
It’s believed that black truffles have been growing since the Triassic Period, which was more than 250 years ago. They’re native to Southern Europe, particularly the mountain areas.
Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Black trumpet mushrooms are similar to the black truffle mushroom, but they have a more distinct shape. They’re also known as the Horn of Plenty mushroom or the Trumpet of the Dead mushroom and grow in Europe, North America, and East Asia in both the summer and the winter, depending on the climate.
Black trumpet mushrooms have a smokey flavor that’s rich in taste. They’re one of the more popular edible mushrooms.
Brown Cap Boletus Mushrooms
These edible mushrooms are often found near coniferous trees and at the edge of clearings. They are a large mushroom found in North America and Europe. The top looks almost like a greasy bun, while the stem features a white pattern. When eaten, brown cap boletus mushrooms have a mildly nutty taste and a faint but pleasant smell.
Button mushrooms are common, making them easy to locate in grocery stores and relatively inexpensive to buy. They have a delicate but earthy flavor and are harvested when they’re young. Button mushrooms grow all year long in cool, dark places. However, it’s best not to pick them unless you’re familiar with mushrooms because they appear similar to poisonous mushrooms.
Champignon mushrooms are white button mushrooms, and they are very popular for cooking thanks to their firm texture and mild taste. You can get them fresh or dried. These mushrooms are native to Europe and North America. However, you can also find them in North Africa, Iran, and Australia.
Another common cooking mushroom, Chanterelle mushrooms have a fruity and pepper-like flavor, making them great to garnish your dish. They have high water content, so it’s best to dry sauté them as they will naturally dehydrate as you cook. Typically golden brown in color, they keep for ten days when refrigerated. Chanterelle mushrooms are native to Europe and North America.
Cremini mushrooms look similar to chanterelle; however, they are larger. Sometimes called baby portobellos, they have a mild flavor when eaten and can be used as a substitute for white button mushrooms. They are dark brown, firmer in texture, and have an earthy, savory taste similar to portobello mushrooms. They are native to Europe and North America.
Enoki mushrooms are native to Japan and are used in many Asian dishes. You can buy these fresh or canned, and they have a mild fruity taste with a crunchy texture. They almost look like bean sprouts, with small caps, long stems, and white caps. They grow on the stumps of various trees, including Chinese hackberry, persimmons, ash, and mulberry trees.
The hedgehog mushroom may look weird with an uneven yellow-orange cap, but it smells and tastes very sweet. That’s why it earned the name ‘the sweet tooth mushroom.’ It has a crunchy texture with a meaty and nutty taste. If the mushroom is older, it may taste a little bitter, too. The hedgehog mushroom is native to North America.
Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
Hen of the Woods mushrooms look like a flower and are also known as the maitake mushroom. They are packed full of flavors, including rich and earthy notes, making them a great addition to any dish. They are native to forests throughout Asia, Europe, and eastern North America.
Honey Agaric Mushroom
Honey agaric mushrooms have a sweet flavor with nutty undertones. They have a chewy texture, which helps keep them firmer while cooking. These are not mushrooms you want to find in your garden as they can be parasitic, especially to wood and plant roots. In fact, they can grow in patches up to 10 square kilometers underground and weigh as much as a blue whale!
The Lactarius indigo is also called the indigo milk cap, thanks to its blue color. It’s native to eastern North America, East Asia, and Central America, growing in forests. When cut, the mushroom will leak blue milk that turns green when exposed to air. It is bitter and peppery in taste with a coarse texture. When cooked, it will lose its blue coloring.
King Trumpet Mushrooms
The King Trumpet mushrooms have many reported health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, helping with weight loss, and even reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer. King Trumpet mushrooms have a savory flower with a soft, crunchy texture. They are also called the King Brown mushroom or the French Horn mushroom. They are native to Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
The Milk mushroom is the only mushroom that’s native to India. It tastes similar to radishes, with a mild, oily flavor. When cooked, milk mushrooms are tender and chewy and pack many nutrients into their multi-stemmed body, including different vitamins and minerals. The caps and the stems are edible, and you can eat them either cooked or raw.
Morel mushrooms look like a honeycomb, but they’re not as sweet. Instead, they have a more subtle, savory taste with a chewy, meaty texture. Their earthy, woodsy, and nutty notes make a great addition to any meal. Morel mushrooms are found at the base of dead or dying trees across North America.
Oyster mushrooms got their name from their oyster-like appearance, and they have a delightful, delicate taste. The younger your Oyster mushroom is when harvested, the more flavor it will have. They are native to forests throughout the world, except in the Pacific Northwest, making them an affordable and delicious addition to most meals.
Porcini mushrooms are a staple in Italian cooking thanks to their meaty texture and flavorful taste – it’s simultaneously creamy and nutty and compliments most meals. You can buy porcini mushrooms fresh, dried, or canned, though you’ll need to soak dried mushrooms before cooking. They are native to the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and China.
Portobello mushrooms are fully matured white button mushrooms and one of the most popular edible mushrooms. They have an earthy flavor, which is often described as meaty. This is why portobello mushrooms are sometimes substituted for meat in a meal. They are native to Europe and North America.
Shitake mushrooms are chewy and meaty, with many benefits. They are rich in flavor and can taste buttery when they are cooked. You can eat them raw, but you’ll enhance the flavor when you cook them. Shitake mushrooms can also be powdered and taken to reduce cholesterol. Shitake mushrooms are native to Asia and a staple in most dishes.
Some mushrooms are used recreationally as drugs because of their hallucinogenic properties.
Amanita Muscaria earned its name as the fly agaric for its ability to attract and kill flies. It’s also toxic to humans, though eating it rarely ends in death. Instead, its hallucinogenic properties have led to the Amanita Muscaria being used recreationally.
These mushrooms are some of the most recognizable with their red cap and white spots, made famous by the Mario franchise. The genus Amanita includes more than 600 species of mushrooms, including some of the most toxic. They are native to eastern and southeastern North America.
Not all mushrooms are safe to eat, so keep an eye out for these. If you ingest a poisonous mushroom, seek medical attention immediately.
The Green Amanita is a poisonous mushroom called the death cap mushroom. It has poison throughout its body, including in the spores, cap, gill, and stem. Green in color with a flat, white ringed head, if you suspect that you or someone else has ingested a green amanita, seek immediate medical attention. There is no cure for green amanita poisoning. Still, you can attempt to remove the toxins before they’re fully absorbed in the body.
The Russula mushroom is a poisonous mushroom that’s also called the sickener. When eaten raw or poorly cooked, you can get sick. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, and diarrhea. They are native to the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in damp woodlands.
This is just the beginning of the wonderful world of mushrooms, so think twice before eating a mushroom until you know what it is. While many are safe and delicious to eat, some can be harmful to your health and may even lead to death.