How To Clean Mushrooms

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Mushrooms have a spongy, rich flesh that will absorb whatever you expose them to. In fact, mushrooms are so absorbent that they’re an excellent addition to any savory dish as they’ll happily absorb butter, oil, stock or garlic.

To maintain great flavor capacity, clean them dry! In this guide you will learn how to clean mushrooms for your next dish.

Despite the rather difficult, damp and chilly conditions that mushrooms love, they’re a fairly delicate vegetable. Purchase them whole rather than sliced, and use your mushrooms when they’re fresh and the caps are tight around the stems.

No Special Tools Needed

Simply brush the mushrooms individually, use the paper towels to wipe off any sticky dark matter, slice and prepare.

A simple pastry brush and a little detail work with a paper towel will work to knock dirt off your fresh mushrooms.

If this seems terribly unsanitary and you just have to wash everything you cook, give your mushrooms a quick shower under the sink sprayer with no produce soap and dry them with a paper towel.

Mushrooms absorb whatever they’re exposed to quite quickly, so if you add soap to your mushroom shower, you will likely eat a bit of it.

Elizabeth Passarella, who always washes her mushrooms and learned from a mushroom farmer how to wash mushrooms, these treats should never be soaked.

Simply rinse them, dry them quickly and use them up. If you refrigerate them after washing them, they will likely turn slimy too quickly for you to enjoy them.​

Related | Do Mushrooms Go Bad?

Enjoy Them Fresh!

Button Mushrooms

Once your mushrooms are cleaned and perhaps showered, eat them up quickly. There are many cooks who find mushrooms to be slimy to cut and prepare.

Fresh mushrooms should be slightly tacky when gripped by the cap and the stem should snap when you remove it.

If your mushrooms are hard to hold onto or the stem is squishy, they don’t need to be washed. Rather, those mushrooms need to be thrown away.

How To Clean Portabella or Portobello

portabella mushrooms

The spelling doesn’t matter as much as how you treat the gills. Gills are the brown papery fibers inside the cap of large mushrooms.

It’s important to note that the gills are edible, but sand and dirt can hide in them and make your delicious grilled vegetarian portabella sandwich a little gritty.​

If you really like the gills, rinse the bottom of the mushroom thoroughly under the sprayer of your sink and let it dry cap up. Will this impact flavor? A bit, but it’s better than crunching down on dirt.

You can also remove the gills with a spoon after you’ve removed the stem.

Cleaning Wild Mushrooms

Do not pick your own mushrooms in the wild unless you have access to a mushroom expert or are one yourself. The risk of poisoning is too great.

While some have morrel patches they’ve picked from for years and never suffered any ill effects, other fans of long walks in the woods have suffered terrible discomfort and even risked their lives after eating a poisonous mushroom.

Why risk food that can make you sick when your grocery store offers fresh, safe mushrooms?​

Final Thoughts

The best way to clean mushrooms is the method you’re comfortable with. The greatest risk from mushrooms generally comes from the choice to eat wild mushrooms without benefit of a fungus expert.

Whatever method you use, eat up your mushrooms while they’re firm and fresh. If you’re unable to use them up, you’ll find great tips on how to store mushrooms at home.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.