You may be familiar with portabellas; large, dark brown to tan-colored flat caps with dark brown gills and a thick, dense white stem. Pick out firm ones that have no blemishes on their caps. Make sure to check that the under piece (the gills) is dry, not moist or slimy. When raw, their flavor is quite plain, but cooking them brings out the taste of their smoky, earthy flavor.
The cap is the most commonly used because the stem is so thick and tough. Yet, the stem can be added to stocks and stews for flavor. The cap can be boiled, sautéed, grilled, and chopped for stews, soups, and rice. Its meaty taste makes it a great protein substitute, such as in burgers, or you can hollow it out and use it as a bowl. If you like classic chicken parmesan, you’re sure to love this take on stuffed portabellas.
Portabellas are grown year-round. Since ancient times, they grew in Italy, but now China is the largest producer. The US comes in third as they are grown in more than half the 50 states.
When sliced, portabella mushrooms begin their breakdown process and should be used immediately. Store whole mushrooms in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in the fridge for up to five days. However, you can keep them even longer (up to a month) by freezing them.