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Dec 21, 2001 08:39 AM

Cleaning mushrooms

  • e

I just bought a pound of shiitakes for the mushroom gravy that I'm making Christmas Eve and I'd appreciate any suggestions on how to clean them since I've never found any way that really works.

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    Brendan Taylor

    using a damp paper towel to rub off the dirt works. any more water, and you're talking waterlogged and slimy.

    1. I have good luck using a soft brush. I have heard that you can put mushrooms in a collander and spray with water and it doesn't waterlog them, but I've never had the nerve to try it!

      1. I saw a Good Eats episode on mushrooms where Alton Brown did one of his experiments. The end result was that a quick wash in water is okay just don't soak. He weighed the mushrooms before and after washing in water. A very minute amount of water was absorbed.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ChrisKC

          I can second this. A quick rinse under running water (hold the 'shrooms upright so no water gets in) works just fine. I do it when I don't want to spend the time on the paper towel method or when they are really dirty.

          1. re: ChrisKC
            Janet A. Zimmerman

            In The Curious Cook, Harold McGee talks about mushrooms and water and the kitchen lore that they absorb tons of water if soaked. He then goes on to an experiment wherein he weighed a bunch (23, to be precise) mushrooms before and after soaking in water for 5 minutes. Before, they weighed 252 grams. After he soaked them for five minutes, then drained and blotted off the surface moisture, they weighed 258 grams. So 23 mushrooms absorbed about 6 grams or half a tablespoon of water among them -- one-sixteenth of a teaspoon each.

            I now wash my mushrooms this way: Since they're usually already in a plastic produce bag, I just fill the bag with water, swish them around a little and dump into a colander to drain. Then I dump them out onto a few paper towels and blot them. It's easy and it gets virtually all the grit off.

          2. I learned this from my mom who cannot stand dirt. You peel the mushrooms. Mushrooms are really easy to peel, just use a small knive or just your fingernail to scrap at the edge of the cap, then peel back the top layer. This way it takes away the dirt without touching any water.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Wendy Lai

              By peeling, you will remove the dirt, but you will also lose a lot of flavor and particularly the aroma which is concentrated in the outer layer.

            2. FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH --- I recently attended a cooking class here in Ft. Lauderdale taught by a well respected French cook (and cookbook author). He maintained that he never washed or even wiped off mushrooms. His explanation being that all of the shrooms sold in grocery stores or produce markets have been sterilized; thus ridding them of all microorganisms. I would be interested in hearing comments on this subject.By the way efdee,he was in the process of making a mushroom gravy for Chateaubriand and needless to say, when he made the shroom statement, many gasps were heard throughout the room.

              2 Replies
              1. re: FrankT

                My ex-husband made me a mushroom dish from unwashed mushrooms once.

                Crunch, crunch. Horse manure anyone?

                1. re: ironmom

                  But ---- sterilized manure!