What are Button Mushrooms? can be answered a few different ways… Button mushrooms are the popular small mushrooms found in most supermarkets today. They will usually come in two varieties of white or brown. Button mushrooms are sold under several different names depending on your area, tradition or culture. “White Button Mushrooms” are sold as their name suggests but brown button mushrooms can be sold as “Brown Button Mushrooms”, “Cremini Mushrooms” or “Baby Bellas”. Don’t let the name fool you. They are the same brown button mushroom.
Button mushrooms are fungi called Agaricus bisporus, which is an edible basidiomycete mushroom (thx wikipedia). You can find these types of mushrooms primarily in North America but they are known to grow in Europe as well.
Button mushrooms call the grasslands their home and are named “button” in reference to their size. Larger mushrooms of the same variety are simply called white or brown “mushrooms”. The brown button mushrooms (cremini) are called portobello when they grow larger. Hence the term for their button size, “Baby Bellas”.
I generally make the distinction as to whether the mushroom has gills or not as whether to call it a “button” variety. If the mushroom has no gills then it’s a “button” mushroom to me. You can find button mushrooms fresh at the local farmers market and also see them somewhat.. (let’s call it) “fresh” from the local mega-mart super store.
I’m partial to local farmer’s markets, so I toot their horn when I can. My point here is that button mushrooms are probably the most popular mushroom that most people would recognize in their supermarket.
Can you?.. yes…but should you? That’s not such an easy question. There’s a few takes on the subject (for and against). However, I think most people will agree you shouldn’t eat any mushroom raw if you can’t identify the mushroom. If you know it’s an edible mushroom, but you still don’t know if you can eat it raw… cook it. There are issues with eating some raw mushrooms and if you question what you’re eating.. be safe and just cook it.
My own choice for raw mushrooms on my salad has me taking the extra step of marinating them first. In that way, I’m flavoring the mushroom and preserving them in a marinade. Yes, I too know people who eat sliced mushrooms raw in their salad and seemingly have no issues. I would not recommend this but I’m sure I eat things others wouldn’t either. If you decide to give it a go anyway but want to err on the safe side then try using excess amount of vinegar based dressing and let the salad sit for 5 minutes before “giving it a go”.
You may get a quick marinade going in the bowl that would be closer to the way I eat raw mushrooms. However, you risk wilting the greens the longer the salad sits… so use more resilient greens.
Yes, you can. Should you? Fresh button mushrooms are made up of mostly water. If you freeze them.. they will be wet and visibly darker when you thaw them out. Not really a big deal if you’re going to cook them. If they’re sliced, expect them to be soggy too. In other words, don’t expect to thaw them out and put them on a fresh salad and think the salad will still look fresh with a few limp wilted mushrooms laying on top.
Again, after freezing, I would marinate them if you’re not cooking them. If you’re willing to blanch the button mushrooms before you freeze, you’ll get better results with thawing for color and texture.
How do you blanch Button Mushrooms?
Blanching your button mushrooms may still discolor them. To help prevent this, just soak your mushrooms in acidulated water prior to steaming them to prevent too much discoloration during the blanching process.
I usually soak with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 quart of water (ten minutes). Drain the mushrooms thoroughly. STEAM the mushrooms for about five minutes.. remove and let them cool on a flat tray before putting in a zip freezer bag. Do not use an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
This will only saturate the mushrooms with water before freezing them so just let the button mushrooms cool on a tray for better results. Place the mushrooms in airtight freezer bags and store them in the freezer. Go with portion size bags so you can pull them out when you want to add to meals. Like all frozen food compared to fresh, you can expect to lose some nutritional value after freezing.
Mushrooms are plenty loaded with water so keeping moisture low during storage will prevent them from getting slimy or moldy prematurely. When storing button mushrooms remove them from any airtight container or plastic wrap and place them in a brown paper bag. In the absence of a brown paper bag, I will use a plastic zip lock bag but I will poke holes in the bag with a fork and place a paper towel around the the mushrooms.
The alternative to the plastic bag with holes is wrapping them in wax paper. I always make sure to remove the button mushrooms from the original container they were purchased in. I will normally give them a quick DRY brush off and wait on cleaning them until I need them. Store your button mushrooms in the refrigerator keeping moisture down.
You know your fridge like I know mine. Low moisture doesn’t mean in the crisper drawer unless you can control the humidity and bring it down to zero humidity. Place them in a dry area away from vegetables that need to stay high in moisture (humidity). You should know these areas in your fridge. In my house, I prefer to store my button mushrooms on a shelf out of the refrigerator drawers.
I wash my mushrooms with clean fresh water EVERY time. I know there are people on both sides of this argument of wash or don’t wash your mushrooms. The alternative to washing your button mushrooms with water is brushing them dry with a vegetable brush or clean cloth. I’ve done this myself and there is nothing wrong with dry cleaning your button mushrooms.
I just prefer wet rinsing and gently brushing if needed. I then let them dry completely. I find no compromise in taste or texture my way of prepping mushrooms for meals and I stay with what works. You only need to bite into grit once before you start thinking of washing them and both ways work fine.
I’m cooking to texture anyway. Cooking the button mushrooms a few minutes longer will remove more water and the mushrooms will start to brown normally when the moisture starts to evaporate more.
Can you dry Button Mushrooms?
Yes you can dry mushrooms. They dry wonderfully and you can buy them already dried as well. Dried mushrooms can be stored for much longer than keeping them in the refrigerator or freezing them. Drying your button mushrooms will concentrate their flavor while delivering some serious umami flavor to any dish. I’m not going to get into a complete dehydration lesson here. To be quite honest, you can dry mushrooms a few ways using a dehydrator, an oven, or simply using the sun.
I use the oven. Slice the mushrooms thin and spread them on a sheet pan. Place them in the oven at 125-150 degrees for about an hour… then flip them over and continue to cook until your mushrooms break easy. If your oven doesn’t go as low as 150 degrees, then putting your oven on warm and leaving your door open at the initial 6 inch stop gap will normally be good enough to keep the temperature low and the oven breathing to facilitate the texture of your mushrooms. They are done when they break easy. Just keep checking.