Portobello (or Portabella) mushrooms got its name from the town of Portobello in Italy where commercial cultivation of the mushroom was started in 1707. The cap of the portobello mushroom ranges from 2 to 5 inches in diameter with the most common commercial varieties being the size of your typical hamburger. Portobello mushrooms are prized for their meaty taste and are commonly used at meat substitutes. While portobello mushrooms are very common in the wild, it is advisable to learn as much about them from trained experts because it has a look-alike called the “Destroying Angel” which is particularly dangerous.
Portobello Mushroom Trivia
- Portobello mushrooms have a dense and chewy texture which makes them great for grilling alongside (or as a replacement for) hamburgers.
- Portobello mushrooms, piece by piece, have more potassium than bananas.
- Portobello mushrooms are actually Cremini mushrooms that are at their most mature stage of development.
- What’s in a name? Cremini mushrooms are also called “Baby Bellas” or Baby Portabellos.
Portobello Mushroom Buying Guide
Mushrooms have common indicators that can be very useful in determining their freshness. Here are a few things to look out for when buying Portobello mushrooms.
- Look for caps that are uniformly colored. There shouldn’t be any dark or light splotches.
- Look for Portobellos that are relatively dry and firm. The portobellos shouldn’t be wet or slimy. There should be no deep discolorations or wet spots on the mushrooms as these are signs of decay.
- The color of the portobello is a good indicator of its flavor. The darker the color of the veils, the stronger and earthier the taste of the mushroom is going to be. Thinner veils and a lighter color means that the flavor of the portobellos is lighter and more delicate.
- Dirt on the portobellos doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re fresh. It just means that there’s more stuff for you to clean when you get home and prepare them.
Portobello Mushroom Production & Farming in Texas
Portobello mushrooms, alongside white button mushrooms and Cremini, are some of the most commonly produced mushrooms in the state. There are many family-run mushroom farms around that state that make portobello mushrooms available all year round. You can purchase locally-grown mushrooms in almost any supermarket, specialty store, or farmers’ market. Many local farm-to-table restaurants are also being supplied by local mushroom farms so there’s a big chance that the portobellos you’re eating in your favorite farm-to-table restaurant are produced by a local mushroom farmer.
Aside from local mushroom farms, there are several wild mushrooming groups in Texas that focus on foraging for wild mushrooms safe and fun for everyone. You can usually find wild foraged portobello mushrooms in your local farmers’ markets the growing conditions are right.
For commercially grown portobello mushrooms, they’re typically packed in plastic or biodegradable trays and covered with a breathable plastic cling wrap to lock in their freshness. In farmers’ markets, they’re typically stacked in baskets and are wrapped in brown paper bags once purchased.
Eating Portobello Mushrooms
The best way to take advantage of the portobello’s meaty taste is to grill them right beside your burgers (or skip the burgers altogether). They can be stuffed and baked, sliced and sautéed, or just sear them in the pan for a quick fix. Whatever method you choose to prepare your portobellos, just be sure not to overcook them as they can become too tough and chewy.
For pre-packaged mushrooms, it’s best to keep them in the fridge. Commercially produced and packed portobello mushrooms have special packaging that is designed to keep them as fresh as long as possible. For wild portobellos picked or purchased from farmers’ markets, they are best stored in paper bags inside the fridge for up to a week. Plastic bags do not work as these trap moisture in and it may lead to the mushrooms spoiling much earlier than they usually do.
To freeze portobello mushrooms, sauté them first before freezing them. Raw portobello mushrooms do not lend well to freezing.
Quick and Simple Grilled Portobellos:
With a quick marinade and a few minutes of grilling time, you can have a quick vegetarian entrée on the table that will make even meat-eaters ask for seconds!
Large Portobello Mushrooms, 4 pieces (stems removed and wiped clean)
Balsamic Vinegar, ¼ cup
Olive Oil, 1 tablespoon
Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon
Fresh Rosemary, 1 tablespoon
Garlic Powder, 1 teaspoon
Crushed black peppers, ½ teaspoon
Cayenne pepper, 1/8 teaspoon
Oil (for grilling)
In a bowl or shallow container, whip together all of the ingredients and then add the mushrooms so that all parts will be coated with the mixture. Allow to sit for five minutes on each side so that the portobellos can absorb the flavors. Don’t over marinate as the mushrooms can become too salty.
Heat a grill up to medium-high heat and brush with a bit of oil to prevent the mushrooms from sticking.
Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side and brush with the remaining liquid marinade.
Once cooked, transfer to a plate and garnish with parsley and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.
When Are Portobello Mushrooms in Season in Texas?
One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.