Exploring Portobello Mushrooms

Out of the over 14,000 species of mushrooms, the humble portobello is one of the most famous. The large, mature version of the common/cremini mushroom, portobellos bring a meaty flavorful bite to dishes around the world. Versatile and nutritious, portobellos can be a powerful friend in the kitchen. Follow along as we explore the fantastic fungi from cap to stem.

Flavor and Texture

The king of meaty mushrooms, portobellos bring a savory richness that’s reminiscent of meat in both taste and texture. However, portobellos still have their own unique characteristics that keeps them from being a vegetarian poser. Namely, mushrooms are the one of the few things in the world that naturally has an umami flavor, meaning that portobellos bring a rich earthiness that makes them second to none. Texture-wise, portobellos have a juicy meatiness that makes them well suited in everything from burgers to vegan scrambles.

Storage and Selection

Due to their inherently mature nature, portobellos are a fairly large variety of mushroom. You’ll often find specimens that measure 6 inches wide, so be on the lookout for large specimens. When picking your portobellos, look for ones that feel firm and are free of any bruises or blemishes. Finally, avoid any slimy mushrooms as this is a telltale sign of spoiling. Once you bring them into your kitchen, toss them into your refrigerator to maximize their shelf life. If you’ve purchased loose mushrooms, be sure to place them in a paper bag before refrigerating.

Preparation

Although preparing mushrooms isn’t the most difficult culinary task, it’s more complex than simply rinsing the caps and calling it a day. In fact, rinsing the caps can cause them to get soggy, so it’s better to wipe them down with a damp cloth. Once your portobellos are cleaned up, you’ll want to cut off the stems, as they tend to be woody and tough. Next you’ll want to scrape off the gills (the ribs underneath the mushroom cap), as they can discolor ingredients in your larger dish. After you’re done with these steps, feel free to cook to your heart’s content.

Culinary Versatility

Speaking of cooking, portobello mushrooms are a fantastically versatile variety. Their large size is almost tailor made for cooking; it holds up really well when grilled, roasted or sautéed. Portobello mushrooms are rockstars in the vegan world too, because their meaty consistency makes them excellent substitutes in traditional meat dishes. Check out our guide on mushrooms and meatless cuisine for an in depth look on nutrition, pricing, and more!

Nutrition

Similar to other mushrooms, portobellos have a solid nutritional profile that makes them a guilt free option on any menu. Each serving is low in saturated fat, calories, and carbs while remaining high in vitamins and minerals. Interestingly enough, mushrooms are a powerful source of potassium too; a single portobello mushroom has more potassium than an entire banana!