Cremini mushrooms have a light to dark brown cap with a short white stem. Small brown gills are hidden beneath the cap. The flavor is mild and somewhat earthy with a meaty texture. The entire Cremini mushroom is edible, unlike the stem of the mature Portobello.
Cremini mushrooms are available year-round.
Cremini (or Crimini) mushrooms are known botanically as Agaricus bisporus, and are also known as baby Portobellos. These little brown mushrooms are the same as the white Button mushrooms seen on pizzas and the large Portobello mushrooms that grill like a steak. The difference between these three mushrooms is merely age. Cremini mushrooms are simply mature white Button mushrooms and slightly immature Portobellos. Agaricus bisporus production accounts for 90% of the mushrooms cultivated in the United States.
Cremini mushrooms contain 15 different vitamins, minerals and essential phytonutrients. Refrigerating mushrooms can extend the life of the phytonutrients. Agaricus bisporus has been found to contain a polysaccharide that inhibits the growth of a bacterium that is responsible for stomach ulcers, gastritis and gastric cancers.
Cremini mushrooms are ideal for fresh eating, baking, roasting or stewing. Remove the stem, and stuff Cremini mushrooms with crab or other meats, add to sauces and soups or slice and top a pizza. Add quartered Cremini mushrooms to green or grain salads. The stems are completely edible; pair with red wine, stock, mozzarella cheese, tomato-based sauces, fresh herbs and beef. Creminis can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store loosely in a paper bag with moist paper towels to prolong freshness.
The Chinese and Koreans have traditionally used Agaricus bisporus to help increase milk production for breastfeeding mothers. In Chinese medicine the mushroom is used to help regulate the body’s energy.
Button mushrooms have grown wild since prehistoric times and were revered by the Egyptians, who believed the mushrooms gave the consumer special powers or eternal life. They were the “food of the Gods” or cibus diorum in Rome and in Russian and Mexican folklore, mushrooms gave people superhuman strength. Though it is unknown when mushrooms were first cultivated, it was likely in the Asian countries of Japan, India and China. Agaricus bisporus was first cultivated in Europe in the 17th century and in France, the mushrooms were cultivated in the catacombs beneath Paris leading to the moniker “champignons de Paris" or Paris mushrooms. Cremini are still cultivated underground in Western France. In North America, Agaricus bisporus has been the primary cultivated mushroom since the late 1800s. At least 50% of the fresh mushrooms grown in the United States are produced in Pennsylvania.