Cremini mushrooms are a mature version of the popular white button mushroom, and are closely related to the well-known portobello mushroom. These medium-sized fungi are not only delicious, but they offer various health benefits, too!
Keep reading to take a deep dive into the world of cremini mushrooms, from taste and texture to storing and cooking.
Cremini Mushroom Basics
Age and Flavor
You might recognize these mushrooms as brown mushrooms, Italian mushrooms, or baby bella mushrooms. Perhaps surprisingly, this mushroom variety is simply a slightly more mature version of the common white button mushroom. Their moderate maturity lends them a similar flavor to the white button, but they are younger than portobello mushrooms.
The texture of cremini mushrooms is appealing to many people. They possess a firm, meaty texture that holds up well in various dishes. This meatiness distinguishes cremini mushrooms from their younger, white button mushroom counterparts, which are often softer and more delicate.
Cremini mushrooms offer several key nutrients, making them a healthy and versatile ingredient in many recipes. Some nutritional highlights of cremini mushrooms include:
- Protein: These mushrooms contain a moderate amount of protein, making them a good addition to vegetarian and vegan dishes.
- Fiber: They are also a good source of dietary fiber, which helps to promote healthy digestion.
- Cholesterol: Mushrooms are naturally cholesterol-free, making them a heart-healthy option for those watching their cholesterol levels.
Cooking with Cremini Mushrooms
Cremini mushrooms are versatile and can be cooked in various ways. You can sauté, bake, or grill them, or incorporate them as a flavorful addition to soups, salads, and casseroles.
One popular method of cooking these mushrooms is sautéing. For this, heat olive oil or butter in a pan, add finely chopped garlic, onion, and thyme, and cook until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re tender and golden brown, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Another popular way to prepare creminis is baking them in the oven. Simply toss the mushrooms with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt, then roast them at 450°F until tender.
Grilling is a simple method that works well with these mushrooms. Marinate them in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper for about 20 minutes before grilling to enhance their flavor.
Their texture and flavor also make these wonderful meat substitutes to make any dish a vegetarian favorite!
There are numerous delicious cremini mushroom recipes you can try. Some popular recipes include:
- Cremini Mushroom Risotto: This creamy, savory dish features arborio rice, white wine, and broth, along with sautéed mushrooms and parmesan cheese.
- Roasted Zucchini and Cremini Mushrooms: A light and healthy option that combines roasted zucchini with cremini mushrooms for a flavorful and nutritious side dish.
- Cream of Cremini Mushroom Soup: A rich and comforting soup made with a blend of caramelized cremini mushrooms, onion, garlic, flour, broth, and cream.
- Cremini Mushroom Quesadillas: Sautéed mushrooms, onion, garlic, and cheese are sandwiched between tortillas and cooked until crispy, making for a delectable and filling meal.
- Cremini Mushroom Pasta: A pasta dish featuring sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and parsley, tossed with your favorite pasta and parmesan cheese.
You don’t have to venture too far to create a flavorful cremini mushroom recipe of your own. They can easily be added to your favorite recipes like tacos, pizzas, and sauces. Use them to enhance the umami flavor and add a unique twist to your dish.
How to Store Cremini Mushrooms
Don’t lose your fresh cremini mushrooms by treating and storing them improperly! Follow these simple steps to keep them fresh for up to a week.
- Keep them in their original packaging or transfer them to a brown paper bag (preferred due to the bag’s ability to absorb excess moisture).
- Fold the top of the bag over to close it.
- Place the bag in the main compartment of your fridge, away from the crisper drawer, as it tends to be too humid for mushrooms and may cause them to become slimy.
Buying and Selecting
When shopping for cremini mushrooms, you’ll most likely find them in the produce section of your local supermarket or at a farmers’ market. They are medium-sized mushrooms with a brownish-gray colored cap.
Fresh options will be smooth, solid to the touch, and dry. The caps should be plump and emit an earthy smell. If the mushrooms are slimy, squishy in places, or have dark brown spots, they’ve passed peak and should be disregarded.
Or – if you are up to the task, try growing your mushrooms at home. It can be as simple as finding the right grow kit, or following our step-by-step guide.
Cleaning and Prepping
As with any other fungi variety, you will want to properly clean and prepare your cremini mushrooms before cooking or eating.
To start, gently remove any visible dirt with a damp paper towel or a clean kitchen cloth, being sure to clean out the gills or the flesh on the bottom of the cap as well. It’s generally best to avoid soaking mushrooms in water as they can absorb it like a sponge and become soggy. However, if necessary, a brief rinse under cold running water can help further remove any residual dirt.
After cleaning, don’t skip drying the mushrooms thoroughly. A salad spinner or a colander can be helpful in spinning them dry, ensuring any extra moisture is removed. Properly dried mushrooms can then be prepped according to your recipe of choice. This could include slicing, chopping, or even leaving them whole depending on the dish being prepared.
Wrapping up the Cremini Mushroom
Even if you were familiar with the cremini mushroom before, you likely learned something new about its origins, health benefits, or cooking methods! Hopefully you will be looking for ways to incorporate this wonderfully versatile variety into your next recipe.
Keep up the fungi fact finding on our mushroom page.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Matt Cunningham, co-founder of Minneopa Orchards alongside his brother Ryan, is a steward of the land with roots deeply embedded in the farming life. Raised on a farm with both parents imparting their love for agriculture—his father a farmer and his mother a gardener. Matt’s orchard and vineyard journey has blossomed into Minneopa Orchards – dedicated to sharing the joy of growing food with a community of like-minded enthusiasts.