White button mushrooms are small to medium in size with caps averaging 2-7 centimeters in diameter and are attached to short, truncated stems. White button mushrooms are of the most common variety of mushrooms utilized in the United States due to their versatility. The smooth white caps are rounded, firm, and spongy. When bruised, the white flesh will turn light pink and will then transform into brown. Underneath the unopened caps, there are many small, light brown gills that are hidden with a white veil and these gills produce dark brown spores. The short white stem is also edible, dense, thick, and smooth. When raw, White button mushrooms are mild with a crisp texture, and when cooked, they develop an earthy flavor with a tender, chewy texture.
Fun Fact: In addition to cultural folklore, the mushrooms were used in traditional Chinese medicine to help regulate the body’s energy and to provide additional antioxidants to promote overall health and well-being.
- Folate important for preventing neural tube defects and may help prevent cancer
- Potassium helps lower blood pressure and helps muscles contract
- Phosphorus is important for strong healthy bones
- Manganese contributes to healthy bones
- Antioxidants important to delay cell damage
How to Shop
Select mushrooms that are firm with a fresh, smooth appearance. The surfaces of the mushroom should be dry, but not dried out, and appear plump. A closed veil under the mushroom cap indicates a delicate flavor, while an open veil and exposed gills mean a richer flavor.
How to Grow
Mushrooms don't require a lot of sunlight to thrive. They can also be grown at any time of year, with winter actually preferable, making for a great gardening opportunity when everything outside is cold and bleak. Spores, tiny microscopic particles, will grow into mushrooms. There are specific mushroom growing-kits available for purchase. Mushrooms grow best in nitrogen-rich manure. To create an indoor bed for your mushrooms, fill a wooden box at least 6 inches deep with manure. Leave a few inches of space below the rim of the box. Spread the inoculated material on the top of the soil and mist it thoroughly. Keep your bed in the dark, damp, and warm for the next few weeks.
How to Store
Place whole, unwashed mushrooms in a brown paper bag and fold the top of the bag over. Then stick the bag in the main compartment of your refrigerator. This works because the bag absorbs excess moisture from the mushrooms so they don't get soggy or moldy.