The Correct Way to Clean Mushrooms


Mushrooms are a favorite and staple in many families’ diets, but there is often a debate on the best ways to prep them before cooking: should you soak, rinse, or wipe them clean? With so many methods, all offering different results, we’ve summed up some of the best ways to clean your mushrooms, so you don’t have to wonder any longer.

The best ways to clean mushrooms are wiping them off with a damp paper towel or rinsing them in cold water and straining them. Avoid using paper towels on morels and clean your dried mushrooms by soaking and rinsing. Sliced mushrooms usually come pre-washed but it’s best to check them for dirt.

In this article, we will show you how to clean mushrooms, whether they’re whole, sliced, or dried. We’ll also discuss ways NOT to clean your mushrooms and common missteps to avoid.

Photo of organic brown champignon mushrooms growing in a bucket
Photo by Barmalini

Do Mushrooms Need to be Cleaned Before You Cook Them?

Many people wash mushrooms before cooking and eating them, but you certainly don’t have to. As long as there aren’t vast clumps of dirt on them, you can wipe them off and chuck them straight in the pan. You can also wipe down your mushrooms with a kitchen towel or a pastry brush to remove instead of water.

Best Methods to Clean Mushrooms

Cleaning mushrooms is a regular kitchen chore, especially if you cook with mushrooms as regularly as we do. We’ve made this food preparation stage much more manageable by rounding up the best methods for cleaning mushrooms.

Damp Paper Towel

The best way to clean mushrooms is to wipe each one with a damp paper towel. This method is less effective when cleaning morel mushrooms, though, and you’ll have better luck rinsing them with water.

If you don’t have time to wipe all your mushrooms, some of the other methods listed below will work fine, too.

Rinsing

Mushrooms are best rinsed in cold water, and you should let them drain in a colander or strainer for a short period of time once rinsed. If necessary, roll them up in a kitchen towel or even a tea towel, and pat dry. Handle your mushrooms with care, as they’re delicate foods, and don’t put too much weight on them when patting, as you might break them.

Photo of white mushrooms growing out of compacted woodchips
Photo by Hirav Pate

Washing Different Types of Mushrooms

You might want to use a different method to clean your mushrooms, depending on if they are sliced, whole, or dried.

Whole Mushrooms

The best method to clean whole mushrooms is wiping each mushroom with a damp paper towel. However, we all have busy lives, and rinsing your mushrooms off in cold water is perfectly acceptable if wiping each mushroom is too time consuming. Let them dry in a strainer for a short time afterward, and pat dry to remove any excess water before you cook with them. Be sure to only wash mushrooms right before you plan to cook with them, otherwise they might get extra slimy.

Sliced Mushrooms

Most sliced mushrooms come pre-washed, so if you’re in a rush, you can most likely skip the cleaning stage. However, we recommend checking them over, so you can be sure there’s no dirt or dead insects in them. We recommend putting your sliced mushrooms in a colander and rinsing them with cold water, before setting aside to dry. As with whole mushrooms, you should do this right before you intend to cook with them to avoid getting a slimy texture.

Dried Mushrooms

While having a delicious flavor, dried mushrooms contain a lot of grit. Some people swear by soaking them in hot water, but you run the risk of ruining the taste of the mushrooms if you choose this method. Instead, we recommend soaking dried mushrooms in room temperature water.

Although you don’t have to, we recommend rinsing off the mushrooms after they have soaked, to remove any excess grit and dirt.

Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)
Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)

Use your mushroom soaking water as broth for your dish. Remember to strain the grit out of it first, though.

How Long Should You Soak Dried Mushrooms Before Cooking?

Don’t soak fresh mushrooms, as they will absorb lots of water and lose their taste. You’ll want to soak dried mushrooms to remove grit and other debris. Soak the mushrooms for 20 minutes to an hour using room temperature water. Give them a rinse afterward, and strain the water you soaked them in. Your soaking water can then act as a broth for your meal.

Photo of turkey tail mushrooms growing out of fallen log
Photo by Paul Nguyen

How Should You Not Wash Mushrooms?

There isn’t a bad way to wash mushrooms, but there are some steps you can avoid. If you decide to rinse your mushrooms, don’t use anything but water when rinsing them, as with all vegetables. Always use cold water and don’t let whole or sliced mushrooms sit in water for any period of time. Make sure to let them dry out in a colander or pat them dry with paper towels.

What Happens if You Don’t Wash Mushrooms?

Nothing terrible will happen to you if you don’t wash your mushrooms. Your dish might feel a little gritty, but it won’t make you sick. It may taste unpleasant, though, and dirt will ruin a silky-smooth dish, like chicken and mushroom soup. If you have children, they’re less likely to enjoy a dish with grit, and this could put them off mushrooms.

While eating dirt causes sickness, parasite infestation, and possibly metal poisoning, the tiny amounts of soil found on mushrooms aren’t likely to cause you too much harm, but it’s better to rinse off as much as you can before consuming them.

Why Do We Wash Mushrooms?

Rinsing mushrooms is more critical than rinsing fruits and vegetables because mushrooms grow in dirt. The average apple doesn’t have much dirt on it, but we rinse fruit anyway for a sense of cleanliness and to get rid of dust, the odd dead insect, or pesticide residue.

There will almost always be soil on mushrooms, so patting mushrooms down or rinsing them off is important to remove dirt off them.

Closing Thoughts

Mushrooms are a healthy and delicious treat and really easy to cook with. As with most vegetables, it’s best to wipe down or rinse off your mushrooms, whether sliced or whole, before you cook and consume them. This allows for all dirt to be removed from the mushrooms, so it doesn’t ruin your meal. We hope this guide provides you with the best ways to prep your mushrooms before cooking them.

Supriya

Hi! I'm Supriya. I'm a home cook, bulldog mom, spicy food lover, and founder of The Spicy Trio. I have been a home cook for about 15 years and have been growing plants for the past six years.

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