A clean 'shroom is a happy 'shroom

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Joined Dec 7, 2005
I still hear contradictory things about cleaning mushrooms. I don't want to make soggy little sponges out of them, but the idea of just giving them the brush off doesn't sound right either. Do mushrooms *really* sop up water so easily, or is it okay to give them a quick spritz while rubbing them down?

Joined Sep 28, 1999
In culinary school I had always heard the same thing, don't put your mushrooms in water. Then I heard the same thing when I quickly ran them under running water. NEVER, NEVER put them in water!! Then I was watching one of Master Chef Jacques Pepin TV shows and he was making a mushroom dish and he looked right at the camera and said wash your mushrooms. The story about them soaking up too much water is a fallacy. I have one of his cookbooks and in his ingredients he recommends washing them. So I have heard it both ways but since Jacques said to wash them, I wash them.

Joined Aug 11, 2000
remember there are thousands of shrooms...morels which have nooks and crannies for critters, polypores....hen of the woods/chicken of the woods have fronds going everywhich way, puffballs which are just big balls of shroom no nooks no crannies, there are wild there are cultivated......
Boletes, shaggy manes, shiitakes, all are different....gills, no gills, etc...

I can tell you most mycofogist will not wash in the woods, they cut the stems so that there is no dirt in the basket, if the shrooms are prolific they'll not even pick dirty ones. But then it's not unusual to have alittle critter protein in a large batch of cooking shrooms. It's a very forager mentality.

I've seen nice restaurants 3x wash especially morels....salt water soak then 2 plain. Shroomers would tell you that you've lost alot of flavor. Chef's might say they don't want worms or bugs in their guests food.


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Joined Mar 29, 2002
What about a can of compressed air for those tricky shrooms. Like you use on cameras and electronics. Would be fast and no water. But could hurt really delicate fronds And not cheap either.

Joined May 16, 2003
Alton Brown addressed this issue on a segment of Good Eats. He had a number of bowls of mushrooms that were exposed to water for varying lengths of times. If I remember correctly, even the bowl of mushrooms that had soaked for a full half hour had only absorbed about an ounce or so of water.

The point being, that the mushroom-water concern, like many other "precautions" only has a kernel of truth.

But, since this is Mr. McGee's forum, I yield to his opinion on the topic.

Mr. McGee?

Joined Dec 4, 2005
I was skeptical about the mushrooms-absorb-water idea and so did the soaking experiments with standard white mushrooms for “The Curious Cook” back in 1990. I’ve since tried a number of others, and if you make sure to shake the water out of the nooks, fresh mushrooms absorb little if any water. I’d also say that since they’re already around 90% water, a little more or less isn’t going to make much of a practical difference in the subsequent cooking.

Now losing flavor to the water is a different question, and it’s possible that you might lose savory amino acids (aroma molecules tend not to be soluble in water). Even here, though, the amino acids are inside cells, and most cells are not going to be breached by surface exposure to water.

So I wash my mushrooms with a clear conscience.

Joined Dec 7, 2005
Thank you! I've been doing a combo of the two by doing a sever wiping with damp paper toweling (the little mushroom brushes just weren't doing the job). Now I'll wash the wee buggers and feel much better.

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