Mushrooms are low in calories and sodium and free of fat and cholesterol. They contain protein, minerals such as selenium, potassium and copper, and vitamins D and B.

Oyster mushroom

Appearance: Silvery-brown caps on white stems. The caps are fan-shaped.

Tasting note: Oysters have a mild mushroom flavor that some people liken to bitter almonds or anise. The caps are tender, the stems are chewy. Oyster mushrooms are one of the more commonly sought mushrooms in the wild, where they grow on the side of dying trees in shelf-like formations. They also are grown commercially and there are kits that allow you to grow them at home. Oysters are delicious raw or sautéed.

Yellow oyster

Appearance: Bright yellow caps on white stems. The caps are soft and delicate.

Tasting note: Yellow oysters have an almost fruity aroma, and the flavor is reminiscent of sweet melon rind. The stems can be bitter. This mushroom can be used in stir-fries or eaten raw. They also can be used to add flavor to sauces. Just be careful not to cook them too long in any recipe. Use them on a salad to add a new dimension of flavor.

Pom pom

Appearance: The pom pom looks like a furry ball, or a tribble from Star Trek. Cut one open and the inside looks like a soft cheese.

Tasting note: A raw pom pom doesn’t taste like much, but the mushroom takes on a roasted-nut flavor when sautéed. The pom pom is sometimes called a monkey’s head, lion’s mane, bear’s head or old man’s beard. It was used in traditional medicine to treat digestive and nervous-system ailments. When you sauté a pom pom, the outside browns while the inside steams.

Maitake

Appearance: The feathery maitake looks like a clump of seaweed.

Tasting note: A maitake smells like a sock that was worn two days ago. The earthy flavor is distinctive, but hard to place. Also called hen of the woods, the maitake is native to northeastern Japan. The mushroom is good raw, but fantastic in a stir-fry or sautéed. The “feathers” get crispy and brown, but the stem stays meaty. There are all kinds of purported health benefits attributed to the maitake. Not all are backed by scientific evidence, but researchers are studying the mushroom’s impact on cancer in humans.

Royal trumpet

Appearance: Thick white stem with a small brown cap.

Tasting note: The cap has an earthy taste that lingers in the mouth like the dry basement odor of an old house. The royal trumpet is native to the Mediterranean region and is related to the oyster mushroom. It grows on decaying wood. The texture of a roasted royal trumpet is similar to that of shellfish.

Shiitake

Appearance: Broad, umbrella-like brown caps on skinny white stems.

Tasting note: Spicy on the back end, like onions and grilled meat. The shiitake is common in Asian recipes, such as miso soup. You can find it fresh or dried. The latter has a stronger flavor. The shiitake is great with pasta or roasted with vegetables.

Full Article: Canton Rep.

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