I use mushrooms quite often in my kitchen, despite the fact that there isn't always a good supply. For really nice ones, we had to go all the way to the Las Cruces, NM Sam's Club or Sprouts. The local walmart has started carrying better quality white button mushrooms since 2019 than I was used to seeing from them.
a. growing mushrooms at home
Growing mushrooms at home is quite easy if you don't care what comes up. All you have to do it water excessively for a while. Working horse manure in the ground is sure to help because it seems that is infested with mushroom mycelium. I have no idea if they are edible.
If you want a decent crop of a specific variety, the mushroom mycelium of several mushroom varieties can be purchased online. A straw bale in a shaded area is enough for oyster mushrooms. Other mushrooms might require very specific temperature, humidity and light conditions.
The pictures below were taken after several days of sustained rains.
Pic1-3: mushrooms in my garden
Pic4-6: mushrooms in my garden
b. store availability of mushrooms
1. white Button mushrooms
Pic1: champignons de Paris
- Button mushrooms—aka Champignon de Paris—are readily available in the Deming, NM. However, it's just about impossible to get truly white button mushrooms. By the time they arrive at the store, they often are already severely bruised and those bruises turn brown very quickly.
- When I found a new shipment of mostly white ones, I considered myself so lucky that I bought 10 lbs. of them.
Pic3: blended with cream.
- Do not wash the white button mushrooms if you intend to stir-fry them ormakeesauce with them. They absorb a lot of water and your sauce may become so watered down that it takes forever to reduce, or requires starches to be thickened sufficiently. Also, washing button mushrooms considerably speeds up the deterioration process.sauce with them. They absorb a lot of water and your sauce may become so watered down that it takes forever to reduce, or requires starches to be thickened sufficiently. Also, washing button mushrooms considerably speeds up the deterioration process.
- When stewing mushrooms, they shrink a lot. They lose 25 to 75% of their original volume, but release the same volume of liquid = mushroom liquor aka fumet de champignons. Mushroom liquor has a very strong mushroom taste and can be used to flavor soups, sauces and other dishes.
- Cooking will turn even the whitest mushrooms darker.
Stewing slowly over low heat may keep them cream-colored instead of brown. (Pic2)
- Blend and add cream to get a lighter cream-colored sauce. (Pic3)
Adding cream to mushrooms isn't mandatory, but looking back at my pictures, I have always done so for all my mushroom-only sauces since 2013.
2. Portobello mushrooms
- Portobello mushrooms have a stronger flavor and make a darker broth.
- Unlike the white button mushrooms, baby Portobello mushrooms should be washed. Their body is a lot denser, doesn't rub as easily, or soak up as much liquor as the button mushrooms.
Pic4: Portobello mushroom gills
- Large Portobello mushrooms have black gills inside the cap.
- Those gills are edible. They even taste stronger than the mushroom body, but they will color any cream sauce an ugly dark purple-puce color that I find really off-putting.
- When color matters, I scrape away the gills with a teaspoon before cooking them. Be careful with that spoon. The edge of the hood is very fragile and it doesn't look as nice when a piece is missing. (Pic4)
- Portobello mushrooms are nowadays also available as baby portobellos or brown button mushrooms. They are darker in color and have imo a more intense flavor.
3. other mushrooms
- Besides the white button mushrooms, I can get canned straw and oyster mushrooms. I usually have a few cans in stock in case I don't have anything better available, but they don't taste anywhere as good as fresh ones.
- Our local Peppers grocery store occasionally has not-so-fresh oyster mushrooms and dried shiitake mushrooms, but I have not bought them.