By this point you may have figured out that the diversity of edible mushrooms is expansive - so many flavors and textures, it can be hard to know what to do with them!
This page is going to cover a couple of ideas and then provide links to specific recipes.
"My favorite way to preserve wild mushrooms is using lacto-fermentation. There are so many culinary possibilities still unexplored using this traditional method." - Pascal
This page is here to be a source of inspiration, not a singular recipe for a singular type of mushroom. In Alabama, we have so many different mushrooms with a massive variety of textures and tastes, a one-size fits all approach just isn't enough.
Let's start with the basics of edibility here. Now that you're 100% confident that your mushroom(s) are edible, and worth eating, let's explore the tastes and textures we may encounter. Since texture is the #1 complaint I hear from people who 'don't like mushrooms' its worth some discussion on it's own.
Mushrooms can take on anything from the gelatinous or slightly gummy textures of the wood ear (Auricularia) and other jellies (Exidia, Tremella, etc.) to the fibrous chewy stem of the black-staining polypore (Meripilus). Surely, these types of mushrooms shouldn't be prepared in the same ways.
So do you have a fruitbody that is thin and crumbly like a Russula? Maybe you have a basket-full of teeny tiny cinnabar chanterelles, or a load of honey mushrooms (Armillaria)? In many of these cases it's important to identify which part of the mushroom is worth eating. For example, the stems of most honey mushrooms can be fibrous unless they are very young, if fibrous they are usually best thrown away/composted. However, with enough effort or processing, any part can be edible - the question is how badly do you want it and will it be worth the time and effort? Maybe those fibrous stems can be roasted and shredded to be added to tacos or a grain bowl?
Jellies - Most of the jelly mushrooms can be consumed raw and will simply dry out if you attempted to roast or bake them. These textures hold up best in soups or other whetted food. Sometimes Auricularia can be sliced and pan fried to be added as a unique but pleasant texture to all sorts of foods. Since these jellies have such a high water content, you may want to replace that water with fat like butter or lard for a more substantial or meat-like texture. Similarly, they can also be sauteed to reduce the water content, driving up the concentration of the flavor. How would you enjoy these?
Crumbly-mushrooms - These are the Russulas and several Lactarius. Really anything that gets easily mangled in a bag or basket. In my opinion this texture really needs to be crisped up as a whole cap or strips of cap. A toaster oven may be your best bet.
Corals - For safety purposes, we're going to suggest this section is for species level identified corals which are edible, specifically Artomyces pixidatus. Ramaria species can be nasty, but some folks are confident that their local Ramaria are great edibles. Due to their unique morphology, these mushrooms can be stunning centerpieces, to eat or not. They may make lovely contributions to soups, or gently tempura battered and fried, served with a cilantro crema.
Dense or Fibrous - This unusual category of textures which is particularly common to the stems (stipes) of large polypores such as Bondezarwia or Laetiporus (Berkely's polypore and chicken of the woods, respectively). These stems can be downright unpleasant to simply cook and eat, they require some processing. This can go in one of a couple ways, they can be broken up in a food processor and used as the basis for stuffings (think of some Raviolis or Tortellini) or mixed into a variety of dishes for texture. They can also be broken down with long and slow heating, such as those which occur with the pickling or confitting processes. The end product may still be fibrous or even dense, but here they are more welcome textures you can sink your teeth into.
Spongy - This is a category that a lot of boletes fall into, especially those lightweight and easily dried ones like Strilobomyces (old man of the woods) and Suilius. Also consider drying these and powdering them for a blast of umami flavor.
Meaty Mushrooms - This is the largest group of classically edible mushrooms with things falling into this category such as Macrolepiota, classic button mushrooms from the store, Chicken of the woods (Laetiporus), several boletes, hen of the woods, etc etc.. These mushrooms are defined by meaty textures that you can sink your teeth into. Some may have stems or components which are fibrous or dense and may need to be removed and cooked in a different way. While the flavors in this group vary widely, the ability to apply these mushrooms to several cooking styles and even to substitute meat products are almost endless.
Just like the vast list of textures, fungal flavors are also broad and often change when the mushrooms is dried. Always sample your mushrooms, just a nibble to make sure you have an idea of what this batch's flavor profile will be. Several boletes will have seasonal varieties that are just too bitter to use in most food. Artomyces and Hericium become bitter when they brown a bit. Are your chanterelles a bit sweet smelling?
We're going to cluster recipes on broad flavors and textures and set aside some for specific mushrooms which grow in abundance in Alabama (such as chanterelles and oysters). Many wild mushrooms can be substituted for one another in these recipes and mixing/matching may be how you figure out which mushrooms shine best where!
Meaty mushrooms are those which have fleshy bodies (not leathery or hard) with powerful umami flavor. Several of these mushrooms (I'm looking at you boletes!) will take on richer flavors if allowed to dry. Similarly, these dried mushrooms can be powdered for an amazing seasoning. However some, such as oysters (Pleurotus) may have a fishy smell or have more particular uses once dried/powdered.
Sour mushrooms - There are actually a handful of mushrooms with distinctive tart or citrus flavors such as Fistulina hepatica, and several boletes (always lick a bolete!) The intensity of these flavors is typically reduced with drying, but they may make lovely contributions to white-meats or carefully used in confections/pastries.
Bitter - Typically, these are better left uneaten. However some adventurous folks have used bitter boletes as the basis of alcoholic bitters or for other liquors. I can also see them being used in confectionery with chocolate or coffee.
This was my first recipe that I used wild mushrooms in. I was hooked! There's something about the sweet-salty, and oh-so cheesy sandwich that shines a heavenly light on the mushrooms you choose to use here. Take your time on those caramelized onions!
This is a dish Jacques Pepin made for the President of France, Charles de Galle. A wonderful breakfast of morels, shrimp and eggs in a shallot, port, and cream sauce.
I can't begin to describe how good these are. I always thought pickled mushrooms sounded gross, but after Jean and Alex let me try some of these, wow - that tender chicken texture and their well crafted marinate was mind-blowing.
This was a new idea to me, confitted mushrooms! I used a combination of salted butter and duck fat to cook and preserve this chicken of the woods (Laetiporus) and it's still in perfect condition over a year later in the fridge.
I'm not a soup person. I don't make or order soups very often. I haven't been the same after I made this and tried it with some fresh corn. I LOVE IT! This classic veloute is rich and filling and you'll never go back after making it.
This one doesn't get a link. Dried chanterelles and black trumpets are absolute winners infused in liquor. Plop a handful of chanterelles in some vodka or gin and let them sit in a dark place for about a month. Black trumpets will make your bourbon or whiskey shine.