Whether you’re already a fan of fresh mushrooms or looking to expand your horizons, bringing home a fresh tray of unfamiliar fungi can be a bit daunting.
You might be used to removing the stems and slicing up the caps before using them in your dish. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
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All mushrooms (and mushroom stems!) are not created equal. Depending on the type, mushrooms vary greatly in appearance and taste. For example, the king oyster’s stem is considered the best part of the mushroom, but portobello stems get tough and woody.
Though you can't overcook mushrooms (really!), the stems and caps cook up quite differently depending on the type of mushroom.
So, before you begin slicing up a batch of white buttons for your next Green Bean Casserole, you should know how to prepare these fungi for cooking. Here’s a helpful guide on which mushrooms need their stems removed and how to do it.
Remove the Stem
These stems cook up tough and woody. It’s best to remove them to showcase the tender caps.
- Creminis: Trim off the brown ends from the stems before preparing a delicious Bulgur Pilaf with Cremini Mushrooms.
- Enokis: You don’t have to remove the entire stem, but you should slice off the base to release individual fronds.
- Maitakes: Similar to enoki, slice off the base of the cluster to release individual fronds. Their peppery frills pair well with mild aromatics in Air-Fryer Roasted Mushrooms with Shallot and Thyme.
- Oysters: Not to be confused with king oyster mushrooms, cut the stem off and consider adding them to your next steamy bowl of Instant Pot Savory Oatmeal with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms.
- Shiitakes: The stem can be removed by hand or cut with a small knife. Then slice the delicate caps thinly before stirring them into an umami-packed Vegan Shiitake Ramen.
- Portobellos: Cut off the woody stem and scoop out the gills before stuffing or grilling.
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Don’t Remove the Stem
Here, the stems are part of the experience. In fact, the stems are more flavorful, cooking up with a texture as similarly supple as the caps.
- Chanterelles: These Italian natives make a fantastic Mushroom Ragu.
- King Oysters: Simply slice off the brown end of the stem, leaving the rest intact.
- Porcinis: These flavor powerhouses make savory gravies and boost the umami of many other sauces and soups.
- Morels: Though commonly dried, the fresh variety is easily prepped with a good scrub.
- White buttons: Trim off the brown end, leaving as much of the short stem as possible.