Stop Wasting Your Mushroom Stems

If you enjoy cooking and you're not entirely afraid of mushrooms, then you may have experimented with recipes that include one of the more common varieties. According to Country Living, button mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, and portobello mushrooms are among the fungi options shoppers have a good chance of finding at their local grocery store. As the site points out, these three mushroom types are related but differ in age. These mushrooms have meaty, round caps that are more substantial than their more fibrous stems, but that doesn't mean the stems should go straight to the waste bin.

Though some dishes, like our recipe for easy stuffed mushrooms, call for taking off the stems, that doesn't mean they should always be discarded. Food52 explains that mushroom stems can be chopped and included in recipes alongside the caps even when the instructions call for their disposal. Much like a mushroom after its stem has been removed, when it comes to including mushroom stems in your cooking, the possibilities are bottomless.

Start getting creative with your mushroom stems

One potential use for white mushroom stems is making your own mushroom risotto. In this recipe, the stems are removed, finely chopped, and cooked with olive oil, onions, and garlic before the sliced mushroom caps are added to the mixture. A good use for shiitake mushroom stems, on the other hand, is to incorporate them into your soup.

While they might not make you sick, Food52 notes that shiitake stems can be tough, and suggests using fresh, finely chopped shiitake stems for cooking and saving the older ones for gravy or stock. To make the Velvety Mushroom Soup recipe on its site, Food52 points out that a higher ratio of shiitake stems than caps is required, making it a good follow-up recipe to create after cooking up a recipe that calls for stem removal.

If using up your mushroom stems is something that isn't in your immediate future but you do want to save them for a later date, the Chicago Tribune advises slicing the stems, squeezing them dry, and placing them in a plastic bag in the freezer. For bonus points, the site even suggests freezing the "juice" you squeezed out to add to the mushrooms when you cook them. And keep in mind, though snapping off those stems may seem like second nature, some mushroom cooking methods, like our recipe for sautéed mushrooms, call for slicing them with the stem on. Thankfully, there's not much room for mushroom waste there.