Mushrooms, especially a pan full of rich, meaty sautéed mushrooms, are one of the simple pleasures in life. Sadly, lots of us are ruining our mushrooms by putting them under the tap as soon as we get them home from the shop.
You should never wash mushrooms, as once they are wet they are almost impossible to dry. This makes them far less likely to get that lovely golden color and crispy edges when you sauté them. Worse still, if you wash and store your ‘shrooms in a sealed container or plastic bag, they’ll turn slimy and horrible very quickly.
It’s still possible to give your mushrooms a good ‘dry-cleaning’ once you get them home, and a good method is to take a dry pastry brush or crumpled paper towel to gently brush off any bits of dirt or debris clinging to them.
Cultivated mushrooms like you find in your local supermarket or grocery store have been grown in sterilized compost, so it’s likely that anything clinging to your mushrooms isn’t going to make you sick, which is the most important thing.
If you get foraged mushrooms like chanterelles, morels and black trumpets, they often have pine needles and other debris stuck to them, which makes cleaning them more necessary. The ‘dry-cleaning’ method will work just fine for these mushrooms too.
It may seem inconvenient, but if you have the choice between clean and dirty mushrooms, take the dirty ones every time even if it means cleaning them. This guarantees that no-one has improperly washed or stored the mushrooms, and that they are as fresh as they can be.
Funky Mushroom Facts
• Mushrooms have their own immune system.
• Mushrooms are more closely related in DNA to humans than they are to plants
• The Honey Mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) is the world’s largest known organism. It covers a whopping 2,384 acres (almost four square miles!) of soil in Oregon’s Blue Mountains. It’s estimated to be 2,400 years old, but could be as old as 8,650 years.
• There are more amino acids in mushrooms than in corn, peanuts or soybeans.
• Fungi use antibiotics to get rid of other microorganisms that compete with them for food.
• The Mycena family of fungus contains over 70 species of mushrooms that glow in the dark. The mushrooms make light by a process called bioluminescence, and in the past, people have allegedly lit their way through a forest by using glowing pieces of fungus-colonized wood.