The Many Varieties of Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms

It was my dad’s birthday recently. Because he loves to cook with mushrooms, I decided to pick him out an assortment that he could try and enjoy. At Wegmans, the selection was plentiful. After some deliberation, I ended up with Maitaki, Shiitake, Oyster, Royal Trumpet, and Beech mushrooms.

Shiitake mushrooms (see photo above) have a woodsy, meaty flavor. Their name in Chinese is “Shaingug,” which means “Fragrant mushroom.” When cooked, they give off a garlicy, piney smell.

Maitaki mushroom

Maitaki mushroom

Maitaki mushrooms, also nicknamed “Hen of the Woods,” are known for their medicinal, balancing, properties. The Japanese name translates to “Dancing Mushroom.” They grow spread out at the bottom of trees, usually oak.





Oyster mushroom

Oyster mushrooms are mild and pair well with chicken and other meats. The texture is its unique feature– very smooth and velvety.





Royal Trumpet mushroom

Royal Trumpet mushroom

Royal Trumpet mushrooms are thick and meaty. They may help to lower cholesterol and stimulate the immune system.





Beech mushroom

Beech mushroom

Beech mushrooms grow on wood, giving them an almost bitter, nutty flavor.






It’s hard for me to get over how beneficial mushrooms are for your health, and how delicious they are for your taste buds. They are intricate and complex organisms. It’s possible to harvest them yourself, though you have to be well-informed because eating an inedible mushroom can have negative consequences. I’m excited to hear how the experimenting goes for my dad, and I think that in the future I’ll be experimenting with store-bought mushrooms more often myself.

kathleen malnatiStory and photos by Kathleen Malnati


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