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Mushrooms, the fruiting bodies of edible fungi, are amazing things in the kitchen, bearers of flavors that range from nutty to aromatically woody to — naturally — earthy.

With more than 10,000 types of mushrooms out there, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to the fun guys. That’s why we asked Ian Garrone, founder of mushroom purveyor Far West Fungi in San Francisco, to guide us through the most common (and delicious) culinary specimens.

Please note: This is a buying guide, not a foraging guide. Leave foraging to the experts (because misidentifying wild mushrooms can be toxic or even fatal).

Shiitake mushrooms

Shelf life: 14 days

The shiitake is native to East Asia, but its popularity has led to its cultivation worldwide. It’s a good source of vitamin D, niacin, and potassium. Shiitakes are admired for their bold, savory, garlicky flavor and are so fleshy in texture that some people may find them too chewy.

“Cook for over 10 minutes,” recommends Garrone, and they’ll soften up.

Tree oyster mushrooms

Shelf life: 3 to 4 days

There are a few different varieties of edible oyster mushrooms — including some that are pink or yellow — but the tannish-brown tree oyster is the type you’ll probably spot in grocery stores. Velvety-soft in texture, it has a slightly sharp flavor that blends well with chicken and fish dishes.

Don’t cook tree oysters for more than 4 minutes, warns Garrone, or they’ll be overdone.

Cremini mushrooms (aka crimini, brown, baby bella)

Shelf life: 7 days

The cremini, an immature portobello mushroom, graces tables worldwide. It’s widely cultivated, has a mild flavor and a traditional mushroom texture, and basically “goes in everything,” Garrone says.

Portobello mushrooms (aka portabello, portabella)

Shelf life: 7 days

The portobello is a full-grown cremini, with a fleshier texture and muskier flavor. Not surprisingly, it’s a popular substitute for meat.

Garrone recommends cooking portobellos whole, because “if you chop them up into small portions, you might as well just get browns.”

Porcini mushrooms (aka cepes, bolete)

Shelf life: 2 days fresh

Fresh porcini have a limited seasonal window. They’re harvested in the mountains in the spring and on the coast in the fall — but they can be found dried year-round. When eaten within 2 days of picking, they have a nice crunch and are good shaved over a salad. After 2 days, they should only be eaten cooked.

Garrone recommends looking for fresh porcini that are as firm as possible. They’re apt to be buggy, so check them carefully. When dried, porcini take on a bolder, nuttier flavor.

Maitake mushrooms (aka sheep’s head, ram’s head, hen of the woods)

Shelf life: 10 days

These ruffled brown fungi grow at the base of trees and can reach — ready for it? — 50 POUNDS. Maitakes contain potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, along with amino acids. Once considered the leading medicinal mushroom, they’ve gained culinary popularity because of their roasted chicken-like flavor and slightly meaty texture.

In Japanese, “maitake” means “dancing mushroom,” because legend goes that whoever found one would dance for joy.

“Cook for more than 10 minutes, almost 15,” says Garrone, “and you’ve got yourself a delicious ingredient for risottos or stir-fries.”

Abalone mushrooms

Shelf life: 7 days

A relative of the oyster mushroom (and sometimes confused with the king trumpet), the abalone mushroom has a silky texture and a mild, buttery flavor — similar to its shellfish namesake.

Restaurants occasionally substitute abalone mushrooms for porcini because they have fewer bug issues. When breaded and fried, porcini can stand in for real abalone.

Shimeji mushrooms (aka buna-shimeji, bunapi-shimeji, hon shimeji, beech)

Shelf life: 5 days

Shimeji (“shee-MAY-jhee”) refers to about 20 different breeds of oyster mushrooms, the most common of which are brown or white. Because they often grow on beech trees, they’re also known as beech mushrooms.

With a firm texture and a delicate, shellfish-like flavor, shimeji mushrooms are ideal for pairing with any kind of seafood.

Nameko mushrooms

Shelf life: 3 days

These small orange mushrooms are easily identified by an unusual gelatinous coating that gives them an amber sheen. When you saute them, the coating also acts as a good thickener for sauces or stews.

Namekos have a sweet, woodsy flavor and a silky, velvety texture. They’re popular in Japan, where they’re traditionally added to miso soup. Garrone recommends simply sauteing them with soy sauce and serving them over rice.

Pioppini mushrooms

Shelf life: 7 days

A member of the shimeji family, pioppini mushrooms have a flavor similar to porcini but are more peppery. Their firm texture makes them a good addition to a stir-fry — you can use the whole mushroom, stem and all.

Garrone says the pioppini has become many people’s go-to mushroom because it’s flavorful but relatively inexpensive.

King trumpet mushrooms (aka French horn, king oyster)

Shelf life: 10 days

In the same family as the oyster mushroom, the king trumpet is larger and denser. Its buttery, sweet flavor makes it a good choice for grilling and as an addition to stews. It’s an “all-around good mushroom,” Garrone says.

Morel mushrooms (aka land fish)

Shelf life: 5 days

This springtime mushroom is highly prized for its earthy, smoky flavor and light, veal-like texture. Because it’s so strong in flavor, the morel works well with beef and in rich gravies. One popular fresh preparation is to flour and fry morels.

Chanterelle mushrooms

Shelf life: 10 days

“Chanterelle” refers to a family of mushrooms, including the golden, yellowfoot, and white chanterelle and the black trumpet mushroom.

In the United States, chanterelles are in season during the fall, but Garrone says they’re available 10 months out of the year worldwide (so you have a good chance of finding them any time). With a firm texture and a subtle flavor featuring peppery apricot notes, they’re great in cream sauces.

Black trumpet mushrooms

Shelf life: 4 to 10 days, depending on moisture level

Garrone describes the texture of black trumpets as “very slight, almost like they’re not really there,” but the mushrooms’ aromatic, cheese-like flavor makes up for their wispy texture. Chop them finely and add them to eggs, stews, or anything that needs a bold flavor pickup.

Black trumpets are harvested in late fall and into winter across the United States.

Lobster mushrooms

Shelf life: 7 days

The lobster mushroom gets its distinctive red color from a powdery parasitic fungus that grows on its surface — but don’t let that sway you! Its walnut-meat-like texture and mild seafood flavor have made it increasingly popular.

Lobster mushrooms are better fresh than dried, and the best time to find them in the United States is September. Check them carefully for bugs.

Garrone recommends brushing lobster ’shrooms with olive oil and garlic for grilling or using them as a plant-based substitute in lobster bisque.

Cauliflower mushrooms

Shelf life: 7 days

Picked in the late spring to early fall in Oregon and Washington, cauliflower mushrooms grow in clusters that can weigh as much as 35 pounds. They have the texture of egg noodles and a rainy, lemon-zest flavor and can be used as a noodle substitute.

Garrone recommends chopping and sauteing them as a side dish with herbs and cream.

Look for specimens that are as white as possible, in clusters the size of a cauliflower head.

Yellowfoot chanterelle mushrooms

Shelf life: 4 days

A true winter mushroom, the yellowfoot is sought for its earthy, woodsy flavor. Its delicate texture breaks down easily in sauces, and it’s usually paired with veal, pork, or game such as venison, rabbit, duck, or quail.

Fairy ring mushrooms

Shelf life: 1 year dried

This fall mushroom is imported from Europe and can be found dried year-round. Its cashew-like flavor makes it ideal for risottos and cream sauces. Garrone also recommends it with fish. (We’re dreaming of an herbed halibut with pecans and fairy ring mushrooms … just sayin’.)

The dried form of the mushroom has an intense flavor, so use just a little bit.

Candy cap mushrooms

Shelf life: 2 to 3 days fresh, 1 year dried

Mushrooms for dessert? You bet. Generally found only dried (or sometimes fresh in December or January in U.S. markets), the candy cap is prized for its sweetness. It has a distinctive maple scent and flavor that go well in shortbread or cheesecake. In powdered form, it can be added to pancake batter as a diabetes-friendly sweetener.

Candy caps can be expensive, but half an ounce is enough for a gallon of ice cream, says Garrone.

Matsutake mushrooms (aka pine mushrooms)

Shelf life: 3 to 14 days, depending on the quality

Extremely popular in Japan, matsutakes are best fresh and can sell for well over $100 per pound. In the States, they grow in the fall. Garrone describes the texture as “a little fibrous” and the flavor as “cinnamon pine.”

Look for a specimen that is still closed (one in which you can’t see the gills). Matsutakes grow in sooty soil, so they’ll usually need a lot of cleaning with a moist paper towel. They’re aromatic and traditionally served in miso soup or rice dishes.

Black truffles

Shelf life: 4 days (the aromatics will be lost after that)

Valued for their aromatic qualities and sometimes called “the diamond of the kitchen,” truffles vary in taste and smell, depending on their age and source. They’re generally harvested in northern Italy, Spain, France, and Oregon.

Flavors can range from earthy to green apple to savory garlic, while prices can range from $400 to $1,600 per pound. Look for very firm specimens.

Usually shaved over warm food, truffles can also infuse foods — for example, when stored with eggs, they’ll flavor the eggs.

Ready to eat? These are some of our best mushroom recipes.

1. Wild mushrooms à la crème

Cooking a curated collection of wild and cultivated mushrooms — chanterelles, cremini, porcini, morels — is a great way to appreciate broad and subtle differences in texture and flavor. This classic French recipe takes a variety of mushrooms and unites them in an irresistible creamy sauce.

Get our wild mushrooms à la crème recipe.

2. Creamy rigatoni with chicken and mushrooms

This creamy, comforting, flavorful pasta ekes the most out of cremini. They’re sauteed in the pan used to sear chicken, so they pick up all the rich brown goodness.

Get our creamy rigatoni with chicken and mushrooms recipe.

3. Mushroom and chile tacos

The ubiquitous portobello gets a fresh identity as a taco filling. Here, portobellos are sauteed with onion, fresh poblano chile, ground cumin, and dried oregano and then allied with classic pico de gallo elements like tomato, lime, and cilantro.

Get our mushroom and chile tacos recipe.

4. Warm fava bean and chanterelle salad with poached eggs

To some, chanterelles are the culmination of mushroom flavor: earthy, deliciously winey, and delicately textured. This warm spring salad, with new-season fava beans, fingerling potatoes, and a bit of shallot and Dijon mustard, brings out their best. Poached eggs are an appropriately luxurious crowning touch.

Get our warm fava bean and chanterelle salad with poached eggs recipe.

5. Morel mushroom toasts

Morels have deep flavor and a firm, almost chewy texture, two qualities this classic French recipe takes full advantage of. Fresh spring morels are roasted and then combined with shallots cooked in butter, flamed with cognac, and served on toast. Ooh la la!

Get our morel mushroom toasts recipe.

6. Fresh pasta with black truffles

Fresh black truffles are a treat — try this fresh pasta recipe to showcase them (though a truffle roast chicken is also divine).

Get our black truffle pasta recipe.

Once you get to know the wide world of edible fungi, there’s no stopping you from crafting mushroom-enhanced dishes at every meal. For safety, always purchase your ’shrooms from a trusted purveyor. Then add these fun forest friends to pastas, tacos, casseroles, ice creams, and more.