Mushrooms are delicious and nutritious, but they can also be tricky to clean.
If you have ever wondered how to clean mushrooms properly, then this article is for you!
Learn everything you need to know about cleaning mushrooms, from the best tools and techniques to the common mistakes to avoid.
Whether you are cooking with button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, or any other variety, you will find useful tips and tricks to make them shine.
Let’s get started!
Why You Should Clean Mushrooms
Mushrooms are fungi that grow in moist and dark environments, often on decaying organic matter.
This means that they can pick up dirt, debris, insects, and even pesticides during their growth and harvesting process.
Some mushrooms also have a protective layer of peat moss or vermiculite that helps them retain moisture and prevent bruising. While these substances are harmless, they can affect the texture and flavor of the mushrooms.
Knowing how to clean mushrooms right is important for several reasons.
First, it removes any unwanted dirt and grit that can ruin your dish.
Second, it prevents the mushrooms from spoiling faster by removing any bacteria or mold spores that may be present.
Third, it enhances the taste and appearance of the clean mushrooms by revealing their natural color and shape.
When Should You Clean Mushrooms?
One of the most common questions about whether you should clean mushrooms is when to do it.
Should you clean them right after buying them?
Should you clean mushrooms before storing them?
Should you clean them right before cooking them?
The answer is: it depends.
Different types of mushrooms have different shelf lives and storage methods. Some mushrooms can last for weeks in the fridge, while others need to be used within a few days.
Some mushrooms can be stored in a paper bag or a damp cloth, while others need to be kept in a sealed container or a plastic wrap.
The general rule of thumb is to clean mushrooms as close to cooking as possible.
This way, you avoid washing away their natural juices and flavor, and you prevent them from absorbing too much water and becoming soggy.
However, if you are not planning to use your clean mushrooms right away, you can also clean them ahead of time and store them properly in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.
How to Choose the Right Tools for Cleaning Mushrooms
Before you start to clean mushrooms, you need to choose the right tools for the job.
You don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive products to clean mushrooms effectively. All you need are a few simple items that you probably already have in your kitchen:
- A sharp knife
A sharp knife is essential for trimming off any tough stems or damaged parts of the mushrooms. You can also use it to slice or chop the mushrooms if needed.
- A damp cloth or paper towel
A damp cloth or paper towel is useful for wiping off any loose dirt or dust from the surface of the mushrooms. You can also use it to dry the mushrooms after washing them.
- A soft brush
A soft brush is handy for brushing off any stubborn dirt or debris from the crevices of the mushrooms. You can use a pastry brush, a mushroom brush, or even a toothbrush for this purpose.
- A colander or a salad spinner
A colander or a salad spinner is helpful for rinsing and draining the mushrooms after washing them. You can also use it to spin-dry the mushrooms if they’re too wet.
- A bowl of water
A bowl of water is optional when you clean mushrooms. Some people prefer to soak their mushrooms in water for a few minutes before rinsing them, while others avoid using water altogether. We will discuss the pros and cons of using water later in this post
How to Clean Different Types of Mushrooms
Not all mushrooms are created equal.
Different types of mushrooms have different shapes, sizes, textures, and features that require different cleaning methods.
Here are some of the most common types of mushrooms and how to clean them:
- Button mushrooms
Button mushrooms are the most popular and widely available type of mushroom. They have a smooth and round cap with a short stem that can be easily removed by twisting or cutting it off. To clean button mushrooms, simply wipe them with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove any dirt or dust. If they’re very dirty, you can also rinse them briefly under cold running water and drain them well.
- Portobello mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are large and meaty mushrooms that have a dark brown cap with prominent gills underneath. They have a thick stem that can be trimmed off or peeled off with a knife. To clean portobello mushrooms, you can use the same method as button mushrooms, but you may also want to remove the gills if you don’t like their texture or color. To do this, use a spoon to scrape off the gills from the underside of the cap and discard them.
- Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are Asian mushrooms that have a brown and flat cap with a thin and woody stem. They have a rich and smoky flavor that adds depth to any dish. To clean shiitake mushrooms, you need to cut off the stem as close to the cap as possible, as it’s too tough to eat. Then, you can wipe the cap with a damp cloth or paper towel, or rinse it briefly under cold running water and drain it well.
- Oyster mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are delicate and tender mushrooms that have a fan-shaped cap with a short and stubby stem. They have a mild and sweet flavor that goes well with many dishes. To clean oyster mushrooms, you need to trim off the base of the stem where it’s attached to the cluster, as it can be dirty or woody. Then, you can wipe the cap and the stem with a damp cloth or paper towel, or rinse them lightly under cold running water and drain them well.
- Chanterelle mushrooms
Chanterelle mushrooms are wild and gourmet mushrooms that have a yellow-orange color and a trumpet-like shape. They have a fruity and peppery flavor that makes them a delicacy. To clean chanterelle mushrooms, you need to brush off any dirt or debris from the cap and the stem with a soft brush, as they can be quite dirty. You can also use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe them gently, but avoid using water as much as possible, as they can absorb it and lose their flavor.
How to Use Water to Clean Mushrooms
One of the most debated topics about how to clean mushrooms is whether to use water or not.
Some people swear by using water to wash their mushrooms, while others avoid it like the plague.
So, who’s right?
The truth is: there is no definitive answer. It depends on several factors, such as the type of mushroom, the amount of dirt, the cooking method, and your personal preference.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using water to clean mushrooms:
- Water is effective for removing dirt and grit from the surface and the crevices of the mushrooms.
- Water is fast and easy to use. You can simply rinse your mushrooms under cold running water or soak them in a bowl of water for a few minutes.
- Water is hygienic and safe. It can help eliminate any bacteria or mold spores that may be present on the mushrooms.
- Water can wash away some of the natural juices and flavor of the mushrooms.
- Water can make the mushrooms absorb too much moisture and become soggy or mushy.
- Water can change the texture and color of some delicate or porous mushrooms.
The bottom line is: use water sparingly and wisely. If you decide to use water for cleaning your mushrooms, follow these tips:
- Use cold water only. Hot water can cook or damage your mushrooms.
- Use as little water as possible. Don’t soak your mushrooms for too long or submerge them completely in water. Just rinse them briefly or dip them lightly in water.
- Use as much pressure as needed. Don’t blast your mushrooms with high-pressure water or rub them vigorously. Just let the water run over them gently or swirl them around in water.
- Dry your clean mushrooms thoroughly. After washing your mushrooms, drain them well and pat them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. You can also spin-dry them in a salad spinner if they are too wet.
How to Store Cleaned Mushrooms
Once you have clean mushrooms, you may not be ready to cook them right away.
In that case, you need to store them properly in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Here are some tips on how to store cleaned mushrooms:
- Store them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. This will prevent them from drying out or absorbing odors from other foods in the fridge.
- Store them in layers separated by paper towels. This will absorb any excess moisture and prevent them from sticking together or becoming slimy.
- Store them in the coldest part of the fridge. This will keep them fresh and crisp for longer.
- Store them for no more than 3 days. Even if you have cleaned your mushrooms well, they won’t last forever in the fridge. Use them within 3 days for optimal quality and flavor.