Never wash a mushroom, right?

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

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How to clean mushrooms always seems to be a controversial question. One school of thought is that fresh mushrooms should be wiped with a damp cloth or brushed with one of those cool little mushroom brushes (you mean you don’t have one?) and never rinsed. The rationale is that mushrooms are like little sponges that will soak up any water and become soggy and flavorless. The real deal is that mushrooms are about 90 percent water anyway, so what difference will a little more make? Since mush- rooms live in or near the dirt, even if it’s a sterile compost (as in the case of cultivated mushrooms), they often are dirty—with actual dirt—when we buy them. A quick wash in a colander is a much more efficient way to clean them than all that laborious brushing and wiping. In fact, cultivated button mushrooms, even when soaked in water for a minute or two, absorb very little water. My advice, then, for cultivated mushrooms is to wash them quickly under running water in a colander, drain, and give them a quick pat with paper towels to remove surface moisture.