How to Clean Mushrooms (the Right Way)
Mushroom is one of the healthiest food items that can go excellent with many Asian and European cuisine. Due to its many essential nutrients and health benefits, mushrooms are gradually gaining popularity all over the world. Although it is found in stores and supermarkets, they are not always cleaned beforehand.
In order to achieve the maximum flavor, the chef must buy them fresh and clean them before cooking. As mushroom is already full of water, cleaning them without getting them waterlogged may seem like a challenge to the cook.
If you have faced these challenges before, check out our tips on how to clean mushrooms the right way. We have also included an in-depth overview of the prepping and storing process so that all that cleaning work pays off.
What is a Mushroom?
With so many modern and classic recipes having mushroom in them, chances are that you already know about this amazing creation of nature. A mushroom, also known as toadstool, is a type of fungus that is grown above ground. Usually, the term is referred to the fleshy, thick, spore-breading body part of the fungus. Mushroom consists mostly of water, with a tiny amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat. This is why it is a great ingredient to include in a healthy recipe.
Mushrooms can come in various types, shapes and sizes. The flavor and the texture of different types of mushrooms are also distinct. This is why mushroom related recipes often call for a specific type of mushroom. However, not all kinds of mushrooms are edible. If you plan on foraging for mushrooms, be sure to research about the edible ones beforehand.
For the city dwellers, the most effective way to get their hands on mushrooms is to buy them in the supermarket. These can be found as canned mushrooms or packaged mushrooms. While using canned mushrooms lessens the work, cooking with fresh mushrooms promises loads of flavor in the dish. This is why most chefs always go for the fresh, soiled mushrooms and do not hesitate to go through the cleaning process for that unique texture and flavor in the cooked meal.
How to Wash Mushrooms?
Before we go into the details about the cleaning process, let us give you a quick update on the most asked question related to mushrooms: do you wash the mushrooms or not wash the mushrooms?
To be fair, the answer is that you can do both of them if you are doing it the right way. This is because mushrooms were not supposed to be washed in the past. The theory behind this was based on the formation of mushroom which consists of 92% water. It was said that, if you wash mushroom for a long time, it may bloat and lose most of the flavor.
However, you can minimize the damage by wiping each mushroom with a damp cloth or a mushroom brush. While this may seem like a great idea at first, just imagine doing this to a whole batch of mushrooms!
The solution of this problem is rather simple. Instead of washing them in the sink or soaking them in a big pot, run them under tap water with few seconds each. Even in this method, the mushrooms will still absorb some water but the amount is minimal.
For example, six ounces of mushrooms may gain approximately a quarter ounce of water, which is not that bad considering you have saved a lot of time, effort and obviously, the flavor.
Best Way to Clean Mushrooms
Before you jump into the cleaning process, it is very important to identify the mushroom you are buying. Once you are familiar with the type of mushroom you have just bought, you can start following the next steps:
- Brown, white, portobello, oyster, shiitake, enoki, shimeji mushrooms
The majority of the edible mushrooms can be cleaned in the same way. But first of all, you need to determine the amount you will be cooking with. If you need a small batch of mushrooms, you can use a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. The process is a bit time consuming as you need to clean each one at a time. You can get the job done a lot faster if you do it with a mushroom brush.
Now, if you are cooking a whole batch of mushrooms, just skip the above-mentioned step and lightly rinse them with water. It is best if you use cool water but do not use hot water in any case. Right after the rinsing process, lay them on a flat surface and pat dry using paper towels. Make sure that the mushrooms are as dry as possible because spongy mushrooms do not brown well or taste good.
- Morel mushrooms
Morel mushrooms are well-known for their meaty, nutty flavor and are used in signature culinary recipes. Not surprisingly, cleaning them also requires extra care. To start off with the cleaning process, you can cut the mushrooms in halves from the stem to the top. You can also slice off a thin portion off the stem instead.
Up next, rinse them in cool water. If any dirt or insects are removed, pat dry with a paper towel and add in the cooking pan.
If the morel mushrooms are not cleaned after a light rinse, Soak them in cool water-pinch of salt solution for half a minute or so. Change water after each short rinse until all the dirt and insects are removed. Pat dry following the above-mentioned method.
How to Cut and Clean Mushrooms for Stuffing
After you have cleaned the mushrooms, it is time to remove the unnecessary parts and use the remaining portions for the desired recipes. Here’s how you can do so:
- Remove the stems if necessary
Mushroom stems are usually edible. Therefore, you can thinly slice the mushrooms from the stem to the tip and use them whole. You can also try chopping them into halves or quarters depending on the cooking methods. The exception is the shiitake mushroom, as it has very tough stems. Always remove its stem before adding to the recipe.
- Remove the gills if necessary
Not all mushrooms come with gills and you do not need to remove the gills if you are grilling or using them in non-stuffed recipes. However, you can choose to scrape off the gills from Portobello mushrooms if you are using them as a filling in a mushroom recipe.
How to Store Mushrooms Before/After Cleaning?
You can store mushrooms for using later in a few ways, such as:
- Refrigerate in a paper bag:
Fresh mushrooms need to breathe and therefore, you need to put them in a paper bag and refrigerate for up to two days before cleaning and adding them in a recipe.
- Wrap in damp paper towels:
This method is for the morel mushrooms only. After you have cleaned them, bundle them up and wrap with a damp paper towel. Put the bundle in a big bowl and keep it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Mushroom is a versatile ingredient for preparing many healthy and hearty dishes. By learning to clean them in the right way, you can always have a fresh batch of flavor-packed mushrooms and prepare delicious mushroom recipes at home.