Mushrooms are a versatile and delicious addition to countless dishes, from creamy risottos to savoury stir-fries. But when it comes to preparing these earthy delights, there’s often a debate about whether or not to wash them. Some chefs argue that washing mushrooms can lead to a loss of flavour and texture, while others insist it’s essential for safety and cleanliness. So, what’s the verdict, and what’s the proper way to clean mushrooms?
To wash or not to wash?
The question of whether to wash mushrooms depends on the type and your intended use. While it’s true that mushrooms can absorb water like sponges, washing them doesn’t necessarily ruin your dish, it just depends on your culinary goals.
Do not wash
If you plan to sauté, roast, or grill mushrooms, it’s best not to wash them. Instead, use a dry brush or a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. Washing these mushrooms can cause them to become waterlogged and hinder their ability to develop that coveted golden-brown sear.
For mushrooms like button, cremini, or portobello, which have thicker skins, a gentle rinse is acceptable. Quickly rinse them under cold running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Avoid soaking them, as this can lead to water absorption.
Wash and dry thoroughly
However, for more delicate varieties like chanterelles or morels, a brief soak followed by thorough drying is recommended. Submerge them in a bowl of cold water, swish gently to dislodge any dirt, and then lift them out carefully. Dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
Tips to properly clean mushrooms
Trim the stems: First, trim the mushroom stems, removing any discolored or tough parts. This not only enhances the appearance but also ensures even cooking.
Brush or rinse: Decide whether to brush or rinse based on the mushroom type as mentioned above. For brushing, use a soft brush or a paper towel to gently remove dirt. For rinsing, do it quickly and pat dry.
Store correctly: Store cleaned mushrooms in a paper bag or a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Avoid airtight containers or plastic wrap, as mushrooms need to breathe to stay fresh.
The decision to wash mushrooms or not largely depends on the variety and intended preparation method. While washing mushrooms can be acceptable, it’s crucial to do it gently and quickly, avoiding any prolonged soaking. So, the next time you’re whipping up a mushroom-centric meal, remember these tips to make the most of these delectable fungi in your culinary endeavours.
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Written by Maegan-Leigh Jacobs
Feature image: Pexels