Cremini mushrooms are a coffee-colored variety of the world’s most commonly eaten mushroom, commonly called the “button” mushroom. Most of the table mushrooms we eat – “white button,” “cremini (or crimini)” and “portobello” – all refer to this same scientific category of mushroom, Agaricus bisporus. The difference between all of these mushrooms is just age – white button being the youngest and portobello mushrooms the most mature, left to grow out into large meaty caps!
Cremini mushrooms are between the two varieties, more mature than white button but younger than a portobello. Deeper and earthier in flavor than white buttons, they are used frequently in stews and soups since they hold up better in liquid. Their hearty, full-bodied taste makes them an excellent addition to beef, wild game, and vegetable dishes.
Mushrooms are so porous that if they are exposed to too much water, they will quickly absorb it and become soggy. This also means that they are great for marinating. The best way to clean mushrooms without sacrificing their texture and taste is to clean them using minimal, if any, water. To do this, simply wipe them with a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth. You could also use a mushroom brush, available at most kitchenware stores.
If using the whole mushroom in a recipe, simply slice off the very bottom of the stem, which is usually a bit spongy. If your recipe only calls for the caps, gently break off the stems with your hands and discard (or save for making soup stock).
Sauté, broil, microwave or cook these mushrooms in almost any way. Some quick recipe ideas:
- Sautéed mushrooms and onions
- Add finely chopped mushrooms to some homemade pasta sauce.
- Remove the stems, and stuff with your favorite vegetable medley or soft cheese.
- Mushroom omelet