Mushrooms Dried: Flavor Profile
Dried champignon mushrooms – also called button or cremini mushrooms – are a familiar sight. They’re one of the most common types of mushrooms consumed in the U.S. and have instantly recognizable white marshmallow-like caps.
Prized for their hearty texture and mild umami flavor, dried button mushrooms deliver an earthy, savory flavor to vegetable stock and a variety of other dishes. When rehydrated in warm water, they’re just as versatile as fresh mushrooms. Use them in stews, sauces, creamy soups and pasta dishes.
Cooking with Champignon Mushrooms
Dried champignon mushrooms are so versatile, because once rehydrated, they’re just as functional as fresh button mushrooms. To rehydrate dried buttons, soak them in boiling warm water for about 20 minutes. Soaking plumps them up and brings out some of the natural earthiness.
Once reconstituted, they’re commonly sautéed with aromatics like garlic and shallots. A quick sauté intensifies the natural umami flavors. And voila! They’re ready to go. Use the rehydrated mushrooms as you would fresh ones. They’re great in:
- Soups – Dried white buttons elevate the flavor of any vegetable stock, and they’re great in a variety of Asian soups and creamy stews.
- Sauces – Champignon mushrooms add a bit of texture to tomato-based sauces. Use them in marinara or a hearty ragu. Mushrooms pair nicely with fresh or dried herbs like oregano.
- Stir Fry – Rehydrated mushrooms fill out stir fries and pair nicely with beef, chicken and peppers.
- Casseroles – Champignons provide a hearty texture and great mushroom flavor in creamy casseroles. They make a great addition to green bean casserole.
History: Champignon Mushrooms
Champignon mushrooms have a long history of commercial cultivation, being one of the first mushroom species to be cultivation on a wide scale. In the early 1700s, French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort first made note of commercial cultivation producing button mushrooms. Initially, though, cultivation of the button cap was sporadic, as the mushrooms wouldn’t propagate consistently and required ideal outdoor conditions. In the late 1800s, sterilized spores were discovered, which revolutionized commercial growing of champignons. Sterilization helped prevent contamination during the “seedling” phase, and ensured many more spores would grow into mature button caps.
The mushrooms were originally brown. In fact, they’re sometimes called Swiss Brown or Roman brown mushrooms. And some varietals are still brown today, especially when mature. Yet, in 1926, a Pennsylvania mushroom farmer found clumps of white, marshmallow caps, and this natural mutation changed the look of the mushroom that we commonly eat today. The all-white variety was popularized and marketed, and little has changed in their production in the last 100 years.
Today, champignons are one of the world’s most popular mushroom varieties. And they’re grown in more than 70 countries throughout the world. In 2012, more than 2 million tons were produced.
Champignon mushrooms are actually immature portabellas, and that’s why the mushroom is commonly referred to as mini-bellas. In fact, they have a similar taste and firmness to portabellas.
Mushroom growing is complex. It requires spores to be propagated, usually in a sterile setting. Once propagated, the spores are grown in a small sterile environment, as “seedlings.” The process is very similar to starting seeds indoors.
Finally, they’re transplanted outdoors usually in a wood or compost bed, which serves as a food source for the mushrooms. The mushrooms then grow rapidly into a massive structure, with hundreds or thousands of individual caps.
About Our Dried Champignons
The Pacific Northwest’s rainy weather offers an ideal growing environment for all types of mushrooms. We source our champignons from Oregon, working with a small network of mushroom farms near the state’s northern coast. Our mushrooms are commercially grown and dehydrated. We hand package, sort and clean them in our spice shop in Florida.