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Quite recently my world was shaken when I learned that the common button mushroom and the much larger portabello mushroom are both the exact same species, Agaricus Bisporus, but at different stages of maturity.

I've tasted both portabello mushroom and button mushroom and can noticeably taste that the portebello have a much fuller and developed flavor compared to the much milder button mushroom.

Because the price of portabello are much higher than the button mushrooms, I was wondering if there was any way to ripen/mature these button mushrooms? I'm not expecting a tiny button mushroom to grow to palm size portabellos but is there any way to mature the button mushrooms so that it has a fuller flavor?

Note that the mushrooms marketed as baby portabello mushrooms (button mushroom with a light brown hue) are the same as the button mushrooms. In fact they are the original button mushrooms. The common white button mushroom is a mutated variety that has been propagated due to its desirable white coloring. So baby portabello mushrooms are not "ripen" white button mushrooms.

EDIT: In reponse to the comments, I would like to clarify that I want to know if there is a way to "ripen" the flavor of the mushroom similar to how fruits can ripen after its already been picked. The color is irrelevant. The only reason I mentioned "baby portabello" is to make it clear that I know it exist and that isn't the answer I am looking for.

  • Are you sure the difference you're perceiving is due to ripening, and not due to varietals? As in, have you compared the taste of baby portabello mushrooms and white button mushrooms? – Marti Sep 9 '15 at 22:33
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    The mutation that caused the loss of brown coloring also caused a lot of loss of flavor. Do try the brown button mushrooms (by whatever name) -- in our area, they're the same price as the white ones. (Sorry, I know nothing about propagating or maturing mushrooms.) – JPmiaou Sep 10 '15 at 1:14
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    To anyone who isn't sure, the Wikipedia article clearly agrees with this... they are not varieties, they are the same exact fungi at different stages of growth: "It has two color states while immature—white and brown—both of which have various names. When mature, it is known as Portobello mushroom." – Catija Sep 12 '15 at 4:57
  • The intro paragraph in the Wikipedia page needs expert attention. The main text is clear that these are different individuals, not stages thatba sinhke individual goes through. – JDługosz Sep 12 '15 at 5:14
  • What are sold as "baby bella" mushrooms used to be sold as "crimini" or "cremini" years before they started the marketing push on "portabella". – Joe Dec 22 '15 at 0:18
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You can not ripen mushrooms after they've been picked because once they are removed they are disconnected from the mycelium which acts as the mushrooms "brain". Once picked they soon die off. You can only slow that process by cleaning them and keeping them at cool temperatures.

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    What do you mean by "act as the mushrooms brain"? I'm not really sure how to interpret the analogy. – Cascabel Dec 21 '15 at 15:18
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    Mushrooms don't grow by cell division like other plants. The mycelia must connect with the spores of the mushroom to make it grow. The mycelia in this way acts to feed the mushrooms and along with that it also controls the behavior of the mushrooms growth. No mycelium/no mushrooms. – NKY Homesteading Dec 21 '15 at 15:26
  • I see - so perhaps as much like body as brain. I take it you're saying the flavor also doesn't change (which was the question), not just that they don't grow? – Cascabel Dec 21 '15 at 17:39
  • No, it won't improve in flavor or mature. It will eventually turn back into mycelia. This is what you see in very old mushrooms. I pile of white fluffy strands and sometimes mold with it. – NKY Homesteading Dec 21 '15 at 17:52
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White button mushrooms are not the same as "baby bella", which look similar but are nut brown. See this Answer

You seen to know that in the question. So what do you mean "ripen"? The white mushrooms are different and will not turn into the brown ones the way fruit changes color to ripen.

The best way to cope with white mushrooms, once you know what you're missing, is to cook in a sauce whose flavor it can absorb.

Are white hot-house mushrooms the same species? Maybe they are. Just like lettuce, broccli, couliflour, and cabbage are the same species. The cultivar can make a substantial difference, as can the growing medium.

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    The Wikipedia article seems to confirm that they are, in fact, the same exact fungi, at different phases in their growth. – Catija Sep 12 '15 at 4:56
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    No it doesn't. "In strains with darker flesh,..." the same species, not the exact same variety. Look up Broccoli for comparison, "Broccoli resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.". Can you turn coliflour into broccoli? Same thing: white mushroom didn't grow the colored stuff inside it. – JDługosz Sep 12 '15 at 5:05
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    I was surprised to see that you interpret the "ripening" request as a request for them getting a different color. I see the question as being about taste, as with many fruits. You cannot turn a green colored pear into a yellow one by holding it, but you can certainly make it sweeter. – rumtscho Sep 12 '15 at 9:05

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