What are your thoughts on rinsing mushrooms?

I've heard some strong opinions on whether you should rinse mushrooms or not -- some say they'll absorb too much water and you should wipe them with a damp towel instead (kitchen pet peeve alert!).

But one very fastidious chef-instructor of mine in culinary school insisted that mushrooms are dirty things -- so she quickly washes all kinds, except delicate shiitakes. Where do you stand?

a Whole Foods Market Customer


dymnyno April 12, 2011
I wash or brush with a tea towel case by case It all depends on how "dirty" the mushroom looks. A lot of mushrooms are literally grown in a lot of shit. I also usually leave them out to dehydrate a bit before cooking. And, I never store them in plastic bags.
ChefJune April 12, 2011
I use paper or huck towels to wipe them off. Never get them wet.

Loved the comment above about only wetting them with booze. ;)
Anitalectric April 12, 2011
I never get mushrooms wet except with booze, in a hot pan. I don't care if they're not 100% sanitary and spotless. They are grown in dirt, like all other yummy things, and I'm cool with that.

I don't even wet the towel that I use to brush off the dirt!
hardlikearmour April 11, 2011
I'm a washer for the most part. I like to hunt for chanterelles in the fall, and they are always full of fir needles and other debris, and are really hard to get clean w/o a good washing. My favorite way of cooking them (and it rids them of water beautifully) is a dry sauté. Cut up the mushrooms and cook them in a skillet over high heat with a pinch or 2 of salt. Stir them often. Once they've given up their liquid lower the heat and add your oil or butter and cook until they're done. Learned this trick from "All That the Rain Promises and More..." a pocket guide to western mushrooms by David Arora. Works for any mushrooms with high water content.
thirschfeld April 11, 2011
I like to let mushrooms dry out a bit before I cook with them. They tend to absorb more of the butter, herbs and so on. They also shrink less and brown better because the aren't expelling out their excess moisture. I usually set them in a salad spinner without the top so the air circulates around them nicely. When it comes time to cook with them the dirt isn't wet anymore and comes off easily just by using a dry towel and a light touch.
Sam1148 April 11, 2011
Alton Brown did a bit about how much moisture they absorbed when rinsed. Weighing them before and after. Results..it really didn't matter.
Just don't rinse and store them..but do it right before using.
CookOnTheFly April 11, 2011
I rinse them, then dry them. I rinse them in a colander and then pat dry them with a paper towel which removes the residual dirt and removes the moisture.
boulangere April 11, 2011
I agree with AJ. Paper towels tend to shed, and I'm trying to wean myself off non-re-usable kitchen products.
AntoniaJames April 11, 2011
All mushrooms need to be rid of any dirt that's on them. I use a damp tea towel to gently wipe them. I don't see the point in rinsing, frankly, because even under running water, most of the dirt on mushrooms that I've ever encountered tends to cling, so you have to go over with your hand anyway. I.e., washing with water in and of itself is not necessarily more effective in removing the dirt. Plus, when you carefully wipe them, you don't have a lot of excess water spitting at you if you're cooking in oil or butter. Wiping mushrooms was one of my earliest sous-chef honors, working in my mother's kitchen as a very young girl. We used paper towels then. I find it easier to use a tea towel. ;o)
boulangere April 11, 2011
Well, if you think about it, all mushrooms are delicate things, right? I teach my students to wipe them gently with a damp towel. Washing a mushroom is like getting a wet sponge wetter. Sure, you can wash them, but it is only going to take that much longer to cook water out of them and concentrate their flavor.
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