Jost Riebau

Editorial Assistant at Kitchen Stories

Mushrooms are simply the best! You can find them in almost every kitchen around the world and rightly so. More than 100,000 kinds of mushrooms are known today and they come in all different shapes, colours and flavours. Mushrooms taste strong, nutty, they are incredibly aromatic and give your dishes an intense umami flavour. Whether for breakfast, as a main course or for an evening dinner. 

As a child I loved fresh and rather crunchy mushrooms in salad. In contrast, the somewhat chewy texture of fried, boiled or baked mushrooms occurred rather strange to me. Fortunately, I have overcome my struggle with certain consistencies, at least as far as mushrooms are concerned. Today I love them! I can't think of a single dish that doesn't get better with the aromatic variety of mushrooms. And the preparation doesn't have to be difficult either. If you pay attention to the following 5 things, your mushrooms will always succeed. Come with us on a little journey through the wonderful world of mushrooms, for new inspiration and great dishes!

What you should know about mushrooms

1. Use as fresh as possible

The following applies, not only, but especially to mushrooms: they taste best fresh. So if you like to eat your mushrooms raw, for example in a wonderful salad, you should not store them at all and prepare and enjoy them right away. But also fried, grilled or baked should mushrooms only be stored for a short time. If a mushroom is fresh and how to store them properly, you can read a little further below.

2. Can I reheat mushrooms?

For quite some time, reheating mushrooms was considered to be harmful to health. However, this is not quite true. Sure there are some things you need to keep in mind, but according to current knowledge, reheating mushroom dishes is safe. It is mandatory however, that you prepare them fresh and store them in a cool spot as soon as possible after the first cooking. When reheating the next day, you should reach a minimum temperature of 70 degrees. And last but not least: mushrooms should only be warmed up once - regardless of whether they were originally fresh or dried.

3. Dried mushrooms

Until recently I did not really pay attention to dried mushrooms. For me their appearance was not very appealing and I didn't really know what to do with them. But oh mighty - what an aroma! Dried mushrooms refine every sauce, go perfectly with ragouts and pies and harmonize wonderfully in risotto. Just soak them in warm water for 15 to 30 minutes before preparing them. Then dab them well and fry them in a pan or add them to your food together with the soaking water.  By the way, a small amount is sufficient here. On the one hand, dried mushrooms have a much more intense taste and on the other hand, 25 g dried mushrooms correspond to about 250 g fresh mushrooms.

4. Buying mushrooms – or hunting them!

Mushrooms feel most comfortable in a warm and humid climate. They grow best when the first rain drop falls after a long and warm dry period. Then the first mushrooms begin to sprout from the forest soil after about 3 days. The best time for wild mushrooms starts about mid August and chanterelles or porcini mushrooms are in season until autumn. In contrast, cultivated mushrooms, such as champignons or oyster mushrooms, are available all year round.

Our 6 favorite mushrooms and their secret talents

Champignons

Champignons are probably one of the best known and most popular mushrooms. They come in white, brown, small or large. Champignons have their origin in France, where they also got their name, which translated means "edible mushroom". They have a rather mild, nutty aroma and taste slightly of almonds and aniseed. The brown mushrooms come with a somewhat stronger taste in comparison. They are wonderfully varied and can be prepared raw, fried, grilled or stuffed.

Portobello

The Portobello is basically a rather large champignon and is therefore also called ‘The giant champignon’. Due to its large lamellae it convinces with a strong taste. Because of its size it can be stuffed with all kinds of delicious fillings. For an oriental variation use fresh coriander and cinnamon or stuff it with Greek goat cheese, dried tomatoes and black olives. The Portobello is also perfect on the barbecue as an alternative to meat. With its strong and crisp texture, it is more reminiscent of meat than of a mushroom. That's why you can also make it into a delicious Portobello burger. There are no boundaries for your creativity!

King oyster mushroom

The king oyster mushroom is peppered with a whole range of strong and spicy aromas. Its thick, white stipe, with its small light brown hat makes it ideal for frying and grilling. When shopping, make sure that the mushroom meat is nice and firm and has no dark spots. In contrast to other mushrooms, the king oyster mushroom can be stored for quite a while. Wrapped in a cloth and stored in a cold place, it will keep for about a week. How to store your mushrooms properly, see a little further below.

Shiitake Mushroom

The shiitake finds its origin in East Asia and grows and thrives there on the trunk of the so-called Shii tree. The spicy and strong aroma fits perfectly to wok dishes and Asian noodles. But of course, the aromatic mushroom also goes perfect with ragouts or creamy vegetables. Whether prepared as an omelette or with blanched Pak Choi, this mushroom is an absolute must for all fans of Asian cuisine. When buying it you should especially pay attention to intact hats.

Chanterelle mushroom

Chanterelles always remind me of little yellow trumpets. Their fruity and peppery aroma harmonizes perfectly with meat and bacon. Although they belong to a rather smaller kind of mushroom, they are packed with all the good stuff. Fresh chanterelles are firm, plump, dry and without dark discoloration. Little tip: The smallest chanterelles have the most intense flavour. I prefer to fry them nice and hot and season them with a pinch of nutmeg, pepper, garlic and fresh parsley or thyme.

Porcini mushroom

I truly enjoy strolling around on the saturday market early on and keep an eye open for the maroon delicacy. An intense nutty aroma is what makes the porcini mushroom special and it is suitable for soups, stews, sauces or simply fried in some butter.  When shopping you should definitely leave out soft ones! Fresh porcini are neither greasy nor dry. You can also enjoy them raw and simply slice them over your next salad.

A little excursion: What exactly is a mushroom coffee?

I'm mad about coffee! 6 years as a barista and still I can't start my day without the liquid black gold pouring in my morning cup. So I am all the more excited about the new trend drink from Australia: the mushroom coffee. The new drink consists of soluble coffee powder and mushroom extract and is simply poured on with hot water and stirred. It is said to increase brain performance, improve concentration and even strengthen your immune system. I am definitely excited and can't wait to finally get a hand on it!

5 simple tips to get your mushrooms perfect

How to tell fresh mushrooms

When buying mushrooms, two things are highly important: the appearance and the smell. Fresh mushrooms have a pleasant earthy scent and are free of visible mould and dark spots. The flesh should look crisp, plump and juicy and be neither dry nor moist. If the stipes have discoloration and spongy spots, they have been stored for quite a while and you should avoid them.

Can I wash mushrooms?

Yes and no. If not absolutely necessary, you should never wash mushrooms. Mushrooms attract liquid almost magically, so if you rinse them under water, they soak up quickly and lose their great aromas. They then turn grey, slimy, gooey and squishy. Once soaked up, it is rather difficult to get them tasty and crispy again. But if they are really covered in mud and there is no way around, this is how you should do it: Clean them briefly under lukewarm water, dry them with a kitchen towel and prepare them right away. Washed mushrooms cannot be stored!

Storing mushrooms properly

Most types of mushrooms can be stored in a cool and airy place for about 2 days. A brown, air-permeable paper bag is best for storage. This prevents condensation and that they turn glassy or bad. However, if you only have a plastic bag, leave the bag a little open for better air circulation. Mushrooms should not be stored too cool, between one and four degrees and never below zero. Mushrooms also absorb odours quite quickly.  So it is best to store them far away from meat, sausage or cheese.

Preparing mushrooms correctly

While preparing mushrooms, take care to cut off particularly dirty or dry stipe ends before cooking. Then you can fry them as a whole or finely sliced as you like. For example, if you want to make a stuffed Portobello, simply remove the mushroom stipes by carefully twisting. And do not throw the stipes away! These also contain the wonderfully strong mushroom aroma and are perfect for soups or sauces. Just throw them into hot water together with your soup vegetables and boil them. Dice them very finely together with onions and garlic and use them as a base for sauces after frying.

3 most common mistakes when frying mushrooms

With our previous tips in mind, there are 3 classic mistakes when frying mushrooms. Firstly, the mushroom was soaked too much during the previous rinsing or was not properly dabbed dry afterwards. Secondly, the temperature in the pan is too low. If you do not fry mushrooms hot enough, they will run out and be cooked rather than fried. This is why they lose a lot of volume if not fried properly, as all the liquid escapes and evaporates. So don't be afraid of high temperatures. Thirdly, the pan is too small and the mushrooms pile up. So the pan cools down too fast and your mushrooms lose liquid. So if you have too many mushrooms, take your time and fry in batches. Believe me, the little extra effort is worth it! And last but not least: fry first, then salt! Salt dehydrates the mushroom and should therefore only be added at the end. 

Pilzrezepte zum Ausprobieren

Vegan spinach and mushroom lasagna

Vegan spinach and mushroom lasagna

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Homemade gnocchi with mushroom sauce

Homemade gnocchi with mushroom sauce

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Tarte flambée with Swiss chard, mushrooms, and bacon

Tarte flambée with Swiss chard, mushrooms, and bacon

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Mushroom-barley soup

Mushroom-barley soup

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Chanterelle-stuffed baked potatoes

Chanterelle-stuffed baked potatoes

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Pork and mushroom ragout with spaetzle

Pork and mushroom ragout with spaetzle

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What is your favourite way to prepare mushrooms? And: Have you ever tried the mushroom coffee? Let us know in the comments - we are always looking forward to new inspirations and your personal favourite recipes!

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