White button mushrooms are considered by many to be the most typical and perhaps “boring” type of mushroom you may find out there, but this doesn’t stop them from being widely grown and eaten by millions of people across the world. Also known scientifically as Agaricus Bisporus, this species of mushroom is likely to remain highly popular.
Despite its familiarity there might be several things that you may not know already about this wonderful and versatile mushroom. If you want to find out about its characteristics, how to grow it, how to cook it, and some other random yet interesting facts, then read on…
White Button Mushrooms As A Species
As mentioned earlier, white button mushrooms belong to the species Agaricus Bisporus, an edible species of gilled (capped) mushrooms. However, it’s not the only mushroom in this group. Portabella and cremini mushrooms also belong to the Agaricus Bisporus genus. They have many similarities in appearance and texture but basically, if we examine all three, we’ll see that each is a smaller/younger or bigger/older version of the other, with some differences in color as well. For instance, cremini mushrooms are bigger than white button mushrooms and have a darker outer flesh whereas portabellas are bigger and darker versions of cremini mushrooms. They can be cooked in similar ways, even though portabellas are maybe more favored by professional chefs as opposed to white button mushrooms and creminis, which are favored mostly by home cooks.
Where To Find White Buttons
The easiest and non-fussy way to get white button mushrooms is to simply go to your local grocery store. This will cost you money of course but it’s safer and more convenient than going mushroom hunting outdoors. The reason why is because there are other species of poisonous and often fatal mushrooms that look similar to white buttons and may confuse you if you are not an expert. The infamous Death cap is one of them. This poisonous mushroom looks like a white button mushroom from a distance, but the difference is that it has a bulky and rounded sag-like base and can often be dark brown, greenish or yellow in color.
With that said, edible white mushrooms grow natively in grasslands and fields all over the globe. They are small to medium in size and are attached to short stems. They are also available all-year round and can withstand both warm and cool cultivation temperatures. An edible look-alike is Agaricus Campestris also known as the meadow mushroom or field mushroom.
How To Grow White Button Mushrooms
Growing white button mushrooms is fairly easy and quick as you don’t need to put in too much effort for too long for them to grow. The easiest way to grow white button mushrooms is to get a mushroom growing kit from your nursery or an online seller that packs all the essential elements you need to grow your mushrooms.
If you want to grow them completely from scratch, here is the 10-step process that you need to follow:
- Get a garbage bag and a cardboard box and line it with the bag.
- Add a 50-50 proportion mixture of cow manure and vermiculite (available in agricultural supplies and nurseries).
- Ensure that the container is not too deep and measures no more than 3 inches when you pat it down.
- Spray the medium with water if necessary to allow proper moisturization and cultivation.
- Add the mushroom spawn into the growing container. Use 4-5 layers of newspaper and dampen with water, then place these over the spawn.
- Cover your cardboard box with a plastic bag, after cutting some holes through it to retain moisture.
- Keep checking your mushrooms every day for 3 weeks and make sure that the newspapers are dampened.
- Add an extra layer of cow manure and vermiculite, again in a 50-50 proportion. Spray with water and make sure that the entire mix is moist.
- Check once a day to ensure the container is still moist and spray some more if necessary.
- Keep doing the above steps for 3-5 weeks until the mushrooms pop up.
How To Cook Them
Cooking white button mushrooms is straightforward as they are incredibly versatile, simple, and quick to prepare.
Before cooking them, you should clean them with a damp cloth as too much water can wear them down. Also, make sure to pat them dry to ensure a crispier and firmer result when cooking.
When it comes to recipes and cooking methods, the possibilities are nearly endless. You may cook white button mushrooms in or with:
- Stir-frys and deep-frys
- Risottos or rice-based dishes
- Steamed vegetables
- Roasts with meat and vegetables
- Barbeque/grill recipes
The best way to use them in all these dishes is to cut them into thick or thin slices or cut them in quarters if they are small.
Perhaps the only food category that they don’t fit in is desserts, but you may occasionally be able to spot sweet mushroom marmalade chunks in some food stores.
Conclusion (And Random Facts)
- White button mushrooms are probably most people’s idea of what an edible mushroom looks like. They are the mainstay of the mushroom world in the kitchen.
- White buttons are very rich in antioxidants and trace minerals like copper, magnesium and manganese.
- They are the most widely grown mushroom in the U.S, counting for 90% of the total mushroom production per year.
- They are saprotrophic and feed on dead matter and especially decayed or dead wood and microorganisms.