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Common Store Mushroom

Agaricus bisporus

We admire the common mushroom sold in groceries as a fine food product. It has a strong and individual flavor. It keeps well in the refrigerator. It combines with almost everything. It is available even in the worst weather, and all year long.

The common store mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, (also known as "commercial mushroom" and "button mushroom") was first cultivated on horse manure heaps in France in the 1700s. It is still grown this way. Until recently it was the main mushroom cultivated in the United States.

Button Mushroom -- Click for larger image

The commercial variety of A. bisporus was originally brown in color. In 1926, a Pennsylvania mushroom farmer found a clump of Agaricus with white caps in his mushroom bed. As was done with the navel orange, cultures were grown from the mutant individuals, and most of the cream-colored store mushrooms we see today are products of this chance observation.

At times mushroom growers cultivate A. bitorquis instead of A. bisporus. This is a more robust mushroom, but is otherwise difficult to distinguish from the A. bisporus we usually find in the marketplace.

Whole unopened buttons taste best. Once the partial veil protecting the gills has broken and the cap expands, the flesh becomes softer, cooks darker, and has a stronger taste. These more mature mushrooms do not keep as well as buttons.

A large Agaricus variety called "portobello" is sold in markets. They look and an umbrella with dark underparts. Us to complement soups and stews.

There are many kinds of wild Agaricus. Most resemble the cultivated species in being fleshy mushrooms that at maturity bear purple to almost black gills and a ring around the stem. Three of the most common and choice edible species are A. campestris , the field mushroom; A . arvensis, the horse mushroom; and A. augustus, the "prince."

A. campestris is found in pastures and grasslands soon after the autumn rains. Whitish caps appear in arcs and rings as a sign of the changing season. Many people gather this more delicate mushroom as a substitute for A. bisporus. Beware of A. californicus, an upsetting look-alike for A. campestris.

A. campestris is especially good with eggs, most vegetables, meats, and stuffings. Pile this mushroom on top of your mozzarella-cheese pizza and bake in a hot oven, allowing the juices to flavor the cheese.

Horse Mushroom -- Click for larger image

A. arvensis, the horse mushroom, is larger and more robust than the field mushroom. It also appears in grasslands, and sometimes the two species can be collected together. This mushroom is cream colored, becoming faintly yellowish in age. The smooth caps are fleshy, more than an inch thick, and stain yellow when bruised. It has a pleasant anise or almond odor when fresh.

A. augustus, "the prince," is one of the meatiest and sweetest of mushrooms. The tawny brown caps may expand to a foot or more in diameter, have golden-brown scales, and smell of anise or almonds. It is equally at home in city parks and gardens or in the wild. This much- sought-after mushroom usually fruits in clumps even during the warm months. The "prince" can fruit several times a year and in the same location each time. A. augustus is more abundant in the west than on the East Coast.

You will never forget your introduction to A. augustus and A. arvensis for, raw or cooked, their odors, flavors, and textures are special. Try placing pizza ingredients inside the inverted cap of one of these mushrooms to surprise your friends. Or smother steaks or chops with thick slabs of mushrooms sautéed in butter and freshly ground pepper. The caps are thick enough to be sliced and baked with olive oil and your favorite herbs.

A Word about Purchasing Commercial Store Mushrooms

Check newspapers for sales of fresh mushrooms. Select those in prime condition, with closed caps. Some markets have large mushrooms especially selected for stuffing.


Little water is required for the cleaning of store-bought mushrooms or of field specimens if gathered carefully. Older ones may be fragile and difficult to clean without cracking. A soft brush is useful. Avoid soaking, for the gills retain water and they will cook poorly. For best results, let them drain in a colander 15 to 30 minutes before cooking. Prepare all species of Agaricus in the same manner.


A. bisporus is thought of as the universal mushroom. It may be substituted for almost any recipe in this or any other cookbook. This is one of the few mushrooms that can be eaten raw in a salad or for dips. Thickly sliced pieces, when sautéed, may be savored as delicate hor d' oeuvres. Added to vegetarian casseroles or stews, they may simulate hunks of meat.


You may store fresh Agaricus in the refrigerator for a week in an open bowl covered with waxed paper, but avoid plastic. They may also be sautéed in butter and frozen. They are surprisingly good when cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices and dried at home for later rehydration. Buttons may be pickled, spiced, or canned. Use a pressure cooker, applying fully adequate time, heat, and pressure, when canning them. Botulism is a serious risk when mushrooms are canned at home.

Button Mushrooms

Chicken Liver Mousse

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

An attractive centerpiece for your buffet table. Serve on a bed of leafy greens.

  • 1/2 pound chicken livers
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • l tablespoon brandy
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 pound common store mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon port wine
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Pinch of dried marjoram
  • 1 envelope (1 tablespoon) plain gelatin
  • 1/2 cup beef broth

In a sauté pan or skillet, sauté the livers in 2 tablespoons of the butter for 7 minutes. The livers should be slightly pink inside. Remove the livers to a bowl with a slotted spoon and pour the brandy into the pan. Continue to cook, scraping all the flavors from the pan. Pour it over the livers.

In the same pan, sauté the onion in the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of the port wine.

Puree the liver, onion, and mushroom mixture in a blender or food processor. Add the soft butter and seasonings.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the broth and let it stand without mixing for 3 minutes. Heat the gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Blend into the liver mixture. Pour into an oiled 4-cup mold and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours or until firm.

--Bea Aker


Marinated Mushrooms and Artichokes

Serves 4 as a first course

  • 1 pound small fresh artichokes,trimmed, or two 9-ounce packages thawed frozen artichokes
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, quartered
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon, or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound small common store mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Place the artichokes in 1/4 cup salted water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain and cool.

In a large bowl, combine the water, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, herbs, artichokes, mushrooms, red pepper, salt, and pepper. Toss and refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle with parsley when ready to serve.

--Louise Freedman


Serves 4 as a first course

This recipe is prepared in advance to be served cold. You may substitute tuna or red snapper for the scallops.

  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 small hot green chili, chopped
  • 1/2 pound small firm common store mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil

Place the scallops in a glass dish with the lime or lemon juice and cover. Let them stand 2 hours; drain. Mix all the remaining ingredients, except the oil, and blend with the scallops. Add the oil. Allow to chill for several hours before serving (but not more than 12 hours) . Serve cold in cocktail glasses.

--Kitchen Magic with Mushrooms


Mushroom Salad

Serves 4 as a first course

The common store mushroom is one of the few mushrooms that can be eaten raw. The prince and horse mushrooms are excellent alternatives.

  • 1 pound small common store mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 celery sticks, sliced diagonally
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 to 5 green onions, cut lengthwise into 1-inch strips
  • 1 small jar pimientos, drained and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/2 garlic clove, crushed
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • Lettuce leaves

Dip the mushrooms into a mixture of the water and lemon juice. Place in a colander to drain. Mix the celery, parsley, green onions, pimientos, capers, and mushrooms in a mixing bowl.

In a pint jar, mix the olive oil, vinegar, anchovy paste, garlic, pepper, and Tabasco. Pour this over the ingredients in the mixing bowl; remove and discard the garlic. Toss carefully, making sure to coat each mushroom, but avoid leaving a pool of liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

Serve on lettuce leaves in individual bowls.

--Kitchen Magic with Mushrooms

Fennel and Mushrooms

Serves 4 to 5 as a side dish

A good dish to serve around Christmas time when fennel appears in the marketplace.

  • 1/2 head fennel, cut into small strips about 1/2 by 1-1/2 inches
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound small to medium common store mushrooms, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Fennel leaves

In a saucepan, cook the fennel in 2 tablespoons of the butter and the water for 3 minutes or until tender. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan or skillet and sauté the mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Drain the fennel and add to the mushrooms. Stir in the sour cream. Serve at once, topped with the chopped fennel leaves.

--Margaret Waterhouse


Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Sauce

Serves 4 as a side dish

An unusual and interesting way to serve spaghetti squash. Double the recipe to serve as a vegetarian main dish.

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium-sized yellow onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 pound common store mushrooms, sliced
  • Minced fresh oregano and basil to taste
  • One 2-pound spaghetti squash
  • Salt
  • Freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a sauté pan or skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms, oregano, and basil, and cook until most of the moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated. Set aside.

Slice the squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. (You can bake and eat these seeds like pumpkin seeds.) Place the halves in a large covered pot with 1 inch of boiling water and cook for 20 minutes. They may be placed cut side up or down. You do not want to overcook the squash because the strands of the flesh become mushy, so be sure the interior remains firm. Drain the squash and separate the circular stands of the "spaghetti" from the skin of the squash with a fork. The strands should remain slightly crunchy.

Heat the mushroom sauce. Empty the strands of squash into a heated serving dish. Mix in the mushroom sauce, adding salt to taste. Top with grated cheese and serve.

--Dr. Bradford Beebe


Fettucini with Zucchini and Mushrooms

Serves 6 as a main course

The perfect dish for your vegetarian friends--and it's simple to prepare.

  • 1 pound common store mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or more
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

In a large saucepan sauté the mushrooms in the butter over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini. Cook until the zucchini is tender but slightly crisp. Allow to cool somewhat, then stir in the sour cream.

Add the olive oil to a large amount of boiling salted water, then add the pasta and cook it until al dente . Drain the pasta in a large colander. Add the pasta to the pan of zucchini and mushrooms. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, salt, cayenne, and parsley and toss gently with a wooden fork, lifting the pasta and combining the mixture well.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if you like.

--Toby Freedman

ALTERNATE MUSHROOM: Shaggy Parasol Mushroom


Serves 4 to 6 as a main course

A wonderful French-Canadian meat, potato, and mushroom tart that can be made with the common store mushroom, blewit, or shaggy parasol.

    Savory pastry:
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
  • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork
  • 1/4 pound ground beef round
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 pound common store mushrooms,thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Slices of sour pickle
  • 1 bunch fresh watercress

To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until the mixture is crumbly. Add the vinegar and water and work the dough into a ball. Sprinkle it with flour, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour before making the crusts.

To make the filling, boil the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Cut the potatoes into coarse pieces and whip with a whisk. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan or skillet, combine the pork, beef, and garlic and sauté until browned. Remove any excess fat and add the mushrooms and the onion. Sauté 2 minutes and add the sage, basil, rosemary, salt, pepper, and water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the whipped potatoes and egg. Cool.

To make the crust, use a fluted 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out half of the crust and fit into a tart pan. Trim the edges and fill it with the meat and mushroom filling. Roll out the the other half and cover the tart; trim and seal the edges. Generously brush the top with the egg-water mixture. Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the tart from the pan while slightly warm and place on a serving platter. Make a ring of pickle slices and watercress sprigs around the tart.

--Shea Moss, from If You Can't Eat Your Mushroom Take It Dancing


Serves 4 as a main dish

Piutipana is a Danish pork stew with mushrooms, tomatoes, and cream. Beef jerky is used for flavoring.

  • 1 pound pork loin, cut into strips
  • Flour
  • 1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 pound common store mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 to 3 pieces beef jerky (optional)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper

Dredge the pork strips in the flour. In a sauté pan or skillet, sauté the bacon for a few minutes. Then add the pork strips and brown lightly for 10 minutes. Remove the pork strips and bacon with a slotted spoon. Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beef jerky. Simmer for 15 minutes or so. Return the pork strips and bacon to the pan.

Add the sour cream, sherry, and cream, and stir. Heat briefly. Do not boil. Correct the seasoning and remove the jerky, if used. Serve with buttered noodles.

--Roma Wagner


Flambéed Lamb Kidneys

Serves 4 as a main course

A lovely, rich dish for a winter's night.

  • 8 lamb kidneys
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound common store mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons shallots or green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup warm brandy
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Trim the fat from the kidneys and cut them into slices.

Heat the butter and oil in a sauté pan or skillet. Add the kidney slices, mushrooms, and shallots. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until the kidneys turn brown but are still pink at the center. Add the warm brandy. Ignite. When the flames burn out, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in the dry mustard and heavy cream. Cook until the cream is hot, and serve over rice or noodles.

--Cil Black and Bill Thele

ALTERNATE MUSHROOM: Shaggy Parasol Mushroom

Chicken Livers and Mushrooms Flambé

Serves 6 as a main course

Chicken livers should be cooked quickly so that they remain pink and juicy inside. A variety of mushrooms can be used for this dish.

  • 1-1/2 pounds chicken livers
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 4 to 5 shallots or green onions, chopped
  • 1-1/2 pounds common store mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brandy, heated

The day before serving, place the livers in a mixing bowl and pour the milk over them. Stir well and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the chicken livers; discard the milk. Allow the livers to drain well in a colander. Place the flour in a paper bag. Add the pepper, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne. Add a few livers at a time and shake the bag to coat the livers. Heat the olive oil and 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan or skillet. Add the floured livers and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until brown and crusted but still pink inside.

In a separate skillet, sauté the shallots in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter for about 3 minutes. Add the mushooms, parsley, and lemon juice. Blend and heat thoroughly. Combine the mushroom-shallot mixture with the chicken livers. Pour the heated brandy over and ignite. Mix well until the flames subside. Serve immediately.

--Kitchen Magic with Mushrooms


Mushroom Bread

Makes 1 loaf

A nutritious bread made with sautéed mushrooms, honey, soy sauce, and yogurt.

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 pound common store mushrooms, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 5 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Melt the butter in a sauté pan or skillet and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Add the soy sauce and cook until the mushrooms become brown. Let them cool.

Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Add the honey and let it stand without mixing for 10 minutes, allowing the honey to react with the yeast.

Add the salt, cool mushroom mixture, and yogurt to the mixing bowl and stir well. Slowly add the flour. When the dough becomes too difficult to mix with a spoon, use your hands. Continue to add the flour until the dough becomes pliable and can be made into a ball. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours or until doubled in size.

Knead the dough on a floured board, counting 50 times, adding flour whenever the dough becomes sticky. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and neatly place the dough in the bottom. Let it rise again for about 1/2 hour.

Bake in a preheated 400º oven for about 20 minutes. As soon as the crust turns slightly brown, brush the top with warm water. Lower the oven temperature to 300º and bake until the crust becomes brown all over, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the pan and cool on a baking rack.

--Louise Freedman