Look for these varieties of fresh mushrooms.

Beech: These small mushrooms, with their all-white or light-brown caps, offer a crunchy texture and a mild, sweet, nutty flavor that works well in stir-fries and in sauces for poultry and fish. When adding to recipes, add toward the end of cooking time to retain their texture.

Chanterelle (shant-uh-REL): Best in simple recipes, trumpet-shape chanterelle are bright yellow to orange in color and have a buttery flavor.

Crimini: Tan to rich brown in color, crimini mushrooms can be used in most any recipe that calls for white mushrooms. They're similar in taste but earthier in flavor.

Enoki (eh-NOH-kee): These white mush mushrooms with long, thin stems and tiny caps often come vacuum packed. Show off their delicate flavor and slight crunch in salads and as soup toppers.

Morel (more-EL): Great for refined sauces and other gourmet recipes, these tan, black, or yellow spongy-looking mushrooms have an intense rich and nutty flavor and aroma -- and generally a high price tag. Morels are also available in dried form.

Oyster: Oyster mushrooms come in a variety of colors, from cream to gray, and a variety of sizes; all have a velvety texture and a mild taste that melds well with poultry, veal, and seafood dishes.

Porcini: Also known as cepes, these pale-brown wild mushrooms are usually found dried. They are prized for their strong woodsy flavor. Try them in soups and pasta sauces.

Portobello: Often used to bring heartiness to vegetarian entrees, these velvety brown mushrooms boast a deep mushroom flavor; find them in large, medium, and small sizes.

Shiitake (shee-TAH-kee): This brown mushroom is prized for the meaty flavor and texture it brings to pasta dishes, soups, and other entrees. Remove stems before adding to recipes.

White: This umbrella-shape creamy white to light brown mushroom, with a mild, woodsy flavor, is a good, all-purpose mushroom that can be served raw, sauteed, or grilled. The small ones are sometimes referred to as button mushrooms.

Wood ear: This variety is favored for its yielding, yet crunchy, texture.


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