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Jun 24, 2009 12:15 PM

White/button mushroom = portobello?

I always thought they were different varieties but this says portobellos are mature white mushrooms. Is this true? Any scientists out there?

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  1. they're mature brown Crimini, not white button.

    1. I thought creminis (little brown ones) were immature portobellos but certain about that.

      1 Reply
      1. re: c oliver

        You are correct that creminis and portabellos are the same variety at a different stage of maturity.

        Ive read that the white button and cremini are related but I'm not sure how.

      2. I'm no scientist, but I'd like to think I have a decent understanding of taxonomy and cladistics. So, here goes.
        No, it's not true. But that doesn't mean what Wikipedia says is incorrect. Agaricus bisporus is a species of mushroom. Button mushrooms and portobellos are both members of this species, but that does no make them the same thing as each other. I believe they are two different cultivars, but I might be wrong. It is possible they are simply two expressions of the same species as it grows under certain controlled conditions. Either way, here is a somewhat appropriate comparison: Broccoli is classified as Brassica oleracea. Kale is classified as Brassica oleracea. Kohlrabi is classified as Brassica oleracea. There are a dozen or so other vegetables that are all this single species. They're not separate subspecies or anything. Genetically they are nearly indistinguishable from one another. But anyone who's ever eaten these plants can tell you that they are very definitely not the same thing as each other. Likewise, cabbage and brussels sprouts both belong to this species, but brussels sprouts are not immature cabbages. They're different expressions of one species, and in this case are classified as separate cultivars.
        So, basically, they are the same species, but they're not the same thing, and one is not the immature version of the other.

        2 Replies
        1. re: danieljdwyer

          Oy. That's why I'm not a scientist. Thanks for the explanation.

          1. re: danieljdwyer

            First of all, yes, your taxonomy is good. I say this as someone who actually has done mushroom taxonomy.

            Second, I used to be SURE that crimini and portobellos were not only the same species, but the same variety - a mycologist I know implied this strongly - but now I feel that the only thing to do is to experiment!

            The question can be settled SCIENTIFICALLY by buying a crimini kit, growing them, picking some, and letting the rest expand their caps. It is also scientifically necessary to eat all of them, to check for taste, possibly in a double blind taste-test with nice portobellos and crimini from the store.

            While the addition of wine may be a confounding variable, scientifically speaking, "pairs well with a good red" is a much-neglected taxonomic character and should also be considered (if you're buying.)

          2. Cremini mushrooms are baby bellos

            2 Replies
              1. re: C. Hamster

                My daughter brought some Baby Bellas over to put on the grill and she also thought they were small portabellas. I'll have to let her know what they really are.

              2. Sorry for being a stickler, BUT

                NO MUSHROOM IS A PORTOBELLO! Portobello ios a road in London. There are mushrooms correctly known as PORTABELLAS.

                Is is disheartening to see the incorrect name continue to spread.

                18 Replies
                1. re: bagelman01

                  Well, golly, since one of the proposed origins of the word is from the road in London, then where did that darned *o* get replaced with an *a*????? Disheartening? Please.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    sorry bagelman, but i'm going to have to call you out on this one. portobello is a perfectly acceptable variant. in fact, it's the *primary* entry in some references (including the Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Neither is a traditional word. Rather than being "baby bellas", cremini are the ones with a long-standing name as one cultivar/variety of a commonly cultivated mushroom. When "exotic" foods started becoming big business during the 80s, overgrown cremini started showing up "branded" as portabellas/portobellos. According to the same report repeated ad nauseam on the web, the "a" version was adopted by some sort of "Mushroom Council" but that's its only claim to propriety. For what little it's worth, I seem to remember seeing "portobello" first...

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          Don't chuckle too much. The portobello is just about the slickest marketing pitch there ever was. They really are just over grown crimini's.


                          1. re: Fritter

                            Very true, but I still love them. But absolutely right.

                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              Yes they are delicious. I like to lightly marinate them with EVOO, Soy, S&P and some fresh garlic and then grill them fin side up so the marinade stays inside as they cook. I only flip them for a few seconds at the end.

                              1. re: Fritter

                                I agree, the best. Ever do OJ, sesame and soy. Really tasty. A favorite recipe:

                                I stuff with scallops grilled (with the same marinade, but less time), s/p of course. I grill the scallops, chop and then toss with scallions, sauteed leeks, diced avacado, a little lime juice, panko crumbs and topped with goat cheese and then baked until the cheese melts. Just a few minutes. Amazing and it is dinner. A nice salad and grilled bread and nothing more.

                            2. re: Fritter

                              I was waiting to offer the same fact. IE the Portobello is just a crimini left to grow to it's normal size.
                              TAfew commercial mushroom grows got together over a few drinks to figure out what to do with the mature mushrooms.
                              They threw a few names in a hat and Port....... was drawn.
                              "Cheers. Now we can unload all these mushrooms to people who don't know any different instead of throwing the mushrooms in the garbage like we were doing last week".

                              1. re: Fritter

                                I know I'm answering a 2009 post, but I'd like to offer up Chilean sea bass as the beneficiary of an equally slick marketing pitch. I don't think there would be equal enthusiasm for the product under its original name, Patagonian tooth fish.

                        2. re: bagelman01

                          funny, the wikipedia page says "a portobello (frequently misspelled as portabella, portabello, or portobella)." Of course, wikipedia is often wrong...

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Oh that absent minded fellow from Portobello road!

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              I realize this is a reply to a very dated post, but, I live a stone's throw from the self-proclaimed "Mushroom Capital of the World," Kennett Square, PA, and around here we see every variation of the spelling that you can imagine -- portabella, portobello, portobella, portabello. They all seem to be acceptable. There's even a local restaurant called Portabellos.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                Portobello is the correct name for this mushroom (or stage of mushroom, whatever we have determined), not "portabella." That is, I think, a regional thing.


                                Actually, Portabella is a viable way to pronounce it according to this link, so they seem to be both correct.

                                1. re: Yergaderga

                                  FWIW, Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA, which is, according to their website, "The Largest Grower of Specialty Mushrooms in the United States," grows PORTABELLA mushrooms.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    It is a regional thing. Anywhere I read it says it can either be "portobello" or "portobella." Also- Phillips is awesome. I took a tour there once.