The umami flavored mushrooms never fail to surprise with the wonders that they can create. You can add mushrooms to soups and broths to add a silky texture and earthy flavor, use them in savory stuffings and toppings, complement pastas and risottos – the list is endless.
Like most vegetables, mushrooms offer a number of health benefits, even though they are not a vegetable – well, technically! They are the fleshy and edible part of a species of fungi.
Mushrooms can aid weight loss, as they are low in calories and free of fat and cholesterol. They are a good source of dietary fiber; minerals like potassium, copper, phosphorous and iron; and B vitamins. Mushrooms also contain the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine that guard your immune system and protect against different kinds of cancers.
Since most mushrooms grow low to the ground, cleaning them thoroughly before cooking is important. But the key lies in doing it the right way. Mushrooms are quite delicate and washing them can alter their texture and flavor.
So, we bring to you four easy ways to clean mushrooms, as well as three ways to cut them for use in your next recipe.
- #Cleaning Mushrooms
- Method 1: Use Water
- Method 2: Use Damp Paper Towels
- Method 3: Use a Toothbrush
- Method 4: Use All-Purpose Flour
- #Cutting Mushrooms
Method 1: Use Water
A quick rinse under running water is the easiest and most common method of cleaning small and smooth varieties like button or crimini mushrooms. However, it is important to not leave them in water for too long, as mushrooms can soak up water and turn mushy.
Things you’ll need:
- Paper towels
Step 1. Place the mushrooms in a strainer and pour water over them
- Place a large strainer over a big bowl and spread out the mushrooms in the strainer. You can also use a colander and place it directly in your kitchen sink.
- Pour water all over the mushrooms.
Step 2. Clean off any dirt and dry them with paper towels
- Gently rub off any dirt or mud from each mushroom.
- Transfer the clean mushrooms onto paper towels to soak up any excess water.
- Pat them dry with a clean paper towel.
Method 2: Use Damp Paper Towels
This method is preferable for the larger varieties of mushrooms that have broader surfaces like porcini and portobellos.
Things you'll need:
- Paper towels
- Water – 1 cup
Single-Step Method: Clean the mushrooms with damp paper towels
- Fold a paper towel in half and dip it in warm water.
- Wipe each mushroom with the towel to remove any dirt.
- Wet a fresh paper towel when the first one gets dirty.
Method 3: Use a Toothbrush
A regular toothbrush can come in handy to clean mushrooms with an uneven texture, such as morels. The bristles can reach into the crevices to scour out the dirt.
Use a new toothbrush and make sure that it has soft bristles to avoid damaging the delicate surface of the mushrooms.
You can also use a soft-bristled mushroom brush, made specifically for cleaning mushrooms.
Things you’ll need:
- Toothbrush – 1
Single-Step Method: Scrub the mushrooms with the toothbrush
- Hold a mushroom in your hand.
- Making small circular motions, scrub away the dirt with the toothbrush.
Method 4: Use All-Purpose Flour
Flour works well for cleaning mushrooms. It acts as a dry cleanser that removes excess moisture and dirt. Once coated with flour, you can easily remove the outer layer of the mushrooms, if they appear too grimy and discolored.
Things you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour – 1 cup
Step 1. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms
- Put the mushrooms in bowl.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of flour over the mushrooms.
- Toss them well to ensure that all the pieces are covered in flour.
Step 2. Peel off the outer skin
- Peel off the outer skin, starting from the base of the mushroom to its center. Peel the skin from all the ends until you have a clean mushroom.
- Repeat the process for all the mushrooms.
As drool-worthy as they may be, cutting mushrooms is not child’s play. Their uneven shapes and sizes can be difficult to deal with. However, there are three basic ways of cutting mushrooms that can serve well for any recipe.
Step 1. Remove the stems
Regardless of how you choose to cut them, start by removing the stem of the mushrooms. Stems are usually thick and woody and not enjoyed by everyone. Removing the stem also gives you a firm grip over the mushroom.
You don’t have to throw away the stems. You can recycle them in broths.
- Simply pull off the stem with your hands. If they do not come off easily, use a knife to cut it from the base of the sponge.
Step 2. Slice the mushrooms
Step 2(A). Cut them into halves
- Place the flat side of the mushroom on a cutting board.
- Hold the mushroom from one side and slice it into two equal halves.
Step 2(B). Cut them in thin slices
- If you are running out of time and want the mushrooms to cook quickly, cut them into thin slices.
- Hold the mushroom flat on the chopping board and use the tip of your knife to cut thin slices.
Step 2(C). Cut them into quarters
- If you want smaller sizes for soups or sauces, slice the mushrooms in half.
- Turn the halves 90 degrees and slice them into quarter pieces.
- Buy mushrooms that are firm and have few spots. Choose the ones that have their caps closed and stems tightly attached.
- If not using them immediately, you can store mushrooms in a paper bag in your refrigerator.
- Avoid cooking mushrooms in aluminum cookware, as it turns them black. Use nonstick pans instead.
- Since mushrooms lose water while cooking, add water wisely.
- If you’ve picked your own mushrooms and want to check if they are safe to eat, try sprinkling some salt over the spongy part. If it turns yellow, they are poisonous. If it turns black, they are safe. However, it is best to buy edible ones from the market.