How to clean mushrooms


Some people say cleaning with water removes the taste from mushrooms.

But if I don't use water the mushrooms will carry a lot of dust.

Do you have any techniques for cleaning mushroom so I don't eat crap but don't spoil the mushroom?

Best Answer

It's important to note that wash or no wash, mushrooms themselves already have a high water content so their ability to absorb more water is limited. Estimates I've found put the range between 75-90% water, depending on the type of mushroom. Cooks Illustrated, for example, puts it at 80%.

Sources such as Cooks Illustrated, Alton Brown, Harold McGee, Robert Wolke, and Kenji Lopez Alt have tested washing mushrooms by weighing them pre- and post-wash, and all found that mushrooms absorb a minimal amount of water that does not significantly affect cooking time. Both McGee and Wolke soaked the mushroom for five minutes - so much longer and with more direct contact than than a normal simple rinsing. Lopez Alt's testing, for example, found that the mushrooms absorbed only about 2% of their total weight which translated to an extra 15 to 30 seconds of cooking time. After testing, these sources all encourage washing mushrooms.

Several of the sources also observed that most of the additional weight is on the surface of the mushroom, which can either be patted dry with a towel or paper towel, or removed with a salad spinner, as other previous answers here have noted.

Cooks Illustrated suggests only washing whole mushrooms, as when cut they can become more absorbent. They also suggest that if you are serving the mushrooms raw, use a tooth brush to brush them clean rather than rinsing because rising can cause discoloration.

Washing should be only done just before cooking. Washing and then storing mushrooms can shorten their shelf life and they can become slimy on the surface.

Wolke notes that if your mushrooms are steaming rather than browning, it's more likely that your pan is too crowded rather than a function of having washed them.

Cooks Illustrated describes their process here, McGee in The Curious Cook, Wolke in What Einstein Told His Cook, Lopez Alt in The Food Lab (and also Serious Eats) and the best I could find for Alton Brown were transcripts from the Good Eats Fan Page. Both the the Cooks Illustrated and Serious Eats links also have more general tips on mushroom storage and prep.