Crazy for Cremini Mushrooms
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What Are Creminis?
Cremini mushrooms (sometimes spelled "crimini") are not hard to come by and can be found in most grocery stores. Typically, you'll find them among the white button mushrooms and portobellos and, in fact, all three are the same kind of mushroom! They are all Agaricus bisporus mushrooms, simply different strains at different stages of maturity. White button mushrooms, the youngest variety, are tender and usually smaller than cremini and are white to cream colored. Portobellos, the largest and most mature, are brown mushrooms that are sometimes sold whole, as caps or in slices. Cremini or (sometimes called baby bella mushrooms) fall between the two. Creminis are medium-size brown mushrooms, typically slightly larger than button mushrooms and with a meatier texture and flavor, but not quite as robust (or large) as their grown-up counterpart, the portobello.
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Unlike chanterelles and porcinis, creminis can easily be cultivated and because of that, they are widely available. They are native to Europe and North American and can even be grown at home—you can find cremini mushroom growing kits online or at garden shops. You can find them whole, or presliced in packages. It's always a good idea to take a close look at packages of cremini mushrooms before you buy them. Look for plump mushrooms without dark or soft spots. Avoid packages that look like they are holding in moisture, which could indicate rotten or spoiled mushrooms underneath.
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Nutrition and Benefits
Besides being low in calories, creminis provide several nutrients your body needs. They deliver fiber, which aids in digestion, and riboflavin, which is important for energy production, as well as selenium which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. (Check out these Low-Calorie Mushroom Recipes.)
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Storing and Cleaning Creminis
If you bring home mushrooms and you're not ready to cook them right away, keep them in the original packaging. If you buy them loose, a container covered in plastic wrap will work well too. Mushrooms kept either way can last three to five days in the refrigerator. (Find out the Best Way to Store Fruits and Vegetables here.)
Cleaning cremini mushrooms is easy. Most mushrooms absorb water like a sponge, so it's best just to brush or wipe away the dirt with a paper towel. If you do rinse your creminis, be sure to pat them dry with a paper towel before you use or store them.
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Cooking with Creminis
Creminis' meatiness and durability make them a great addition to many savory dishes. They can add texture and an umami flavor to veggie burgers and sauces and heft to creamy pasta dishes. They're also great for stuffing! But if you want something super-simple, sliced or quartered creminis sautéed with olive oil and a pinch of plain old salt and pepper is great too.