(Enoki, Pleurotus, Shiitake)
Dr. Joe Masabni
Department of Horticulture
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
The popularity of different species and varieties of mushrooms has increased in the past few years. The most popular variety, Agaricus bisporus, has three different strains. All are similar in holding quality and shelf life, differeing basically in color. White, off-white and dark brown are the common colors. White mushrooms dominate the fresh market. Other mushroom varieties whose popularity is increasing include enoki, pleurotus and shiitake.Enoki mushrooms are creamy white with long slender stems that are topped with small round caps. They are mild flavored mushrooms with a slightly sweet taste and can be used fresh or cooked.
Pleurotus mushrooms, also know as oyster mushrooms, are grayish brown with a delicate flavor and texture.
The shiitake mushroom is a large, umbrella-shaped mushroom that is dark brown. With a meaty flavor, shiitake mushroom can be used raw or cooked.
It was formerly believed that darkness was required for growing good mushrooms. This is not true; mushrooms need proper compost, good sanitation and, most of all, a constant and suitable temperature with protection against drafts. The climate in the U.S. is not suitable for the commercial production of mushrooms out-of-doors. Therefore they are grown in natural caves or cultured in carefully designed windowless buildings in which temperature, humidity and ventilation are precisely controlled.
Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are grown on oak or elm logs by placing innoculated wood plugs into holes drilled at 4- to 6- inch intervals. Incubation takes 3 to 5 months before the logs sprout edible mushrooms.
The more common white mushroom is in grown sterilized compost which has been specially mixed and innoculated with spores.
Freshness, color and shape are the three points generally considered when selection mushrooms. Avoid withered mushrooms as this is a sign of age. Mushrooms which look bright and attractive in the store can be refrigerated for 4 to 5 days with little effect. All mushrooms, however, will eventually oxidize and turn dark. Truffles are related to the mushroom but are bulbous and unimpressive looking. They are used in small quantities to flavor a variety of dishes.