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Old 04-13-2005, 06:50 AM   #1
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Wash mushrooms?

I watch Food Network all the time whenever I'm in the kitchen and on all the shows, when they are making something with fresh mushrooms, they always say not to wash them, but just brush them off before cooking. They claim that washing them will cause them to absorb too much moisture, as they are like a sponge, and will lose flavor. I think this is ridiculous. I have tried the washing and just brushing them off techniques, and have never noticed a flavor difference. I also feel more comfortable having quickly washed them off for sanitary reasons, i.e, you have no idea how they have been handled and by whom. So, any opinions on this and/or what do you usually do? Thanks and have a great day everyone.

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Old 04-13-2005, 07:59 AM   #2
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I just dampen a piece of kitchen towel and gently rub the tops of the mushrooms. I also sometimes use a mushroom brush on the gills, but only if they look particularly dirty. I believe that they do absorb water - particularly the larger, field-mushroom types.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:38 AM   #3
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The deal with mushrooms is that yes, they do absorve water like a sponge, but not nearly as fast. The traditional thing to do is to brush 'em off with a sponge. The "new" thing to do is to toss them in a strainer with cold water and dry them with papper towels. If you dont let them soak for more than a minute any water logging would be negligible.

Me? I just chop 'em up and throw 'em in straight, but Im that kind of guy.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:47 AM   #4
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Alton Brown did a thing on this topic on Good Eats. He is an advocate of washing mushrooms. He took three bunches of mushrooms and soaked some for a long time, some for a short while, and some were just rinsed quickly. They were weighed before and after. He found out, like Lugaru mentioned, that any water retention was negligible.

I, myself, do not eat mushrooms so I can not speak from personal experience, but in the rare cases that I do cook with them I always give them a quick rinse.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:55 AM   #5
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cleaning mushrooms
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Old 04-13-2005, 09:30 AM   #6
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I, too, saw Alton Brown's show and loved it. In fact, whether I wash or not depends on the mushrooms. Sometimes I buy buttons that are totally closed and easy to just brush or wipe off with a dish towel or paper towel. Sometimes I buy mushrooms that are downright muddy and nothing but water will do it. I also forage once a year, and the morels are often creeping with small insects and muck. Once again, you need a stream of water to work with. Judge by the mushroom, not by some "rules" that may have been written by someone not looking at YOUR mushrooms! I think the old, don't wash "rule" really meant not to soak them. A stream of water aimed over them in a colander is hardly going to 'ruin' your mushroom.
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Old 04-13-2005, 09:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
Judge by the mushroom, not by some "rules" that may have been written by someone not looking at YOUR mushrooms!
Very well said Clair! This can be true of some many things in cooking (and life).
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Old 04-13-2005, 09:37 AM   #8
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Oh, by the way, if perchance you feel you've gotten your mushrooms TOO damp (this happens with the foraged morels sometimes), put them on a pan in the oven at a medium low heat (300 or so). I drizzle olive oil, put some cloves of garlic on the pan, and a bit of S&P. Check them every 20 min or so; when the liquid from them is not sitting in the bottom of the pan (and the house smells heavenly), pull them out and proceed with your recipe (this will be an hour at the most). You're not dehydrating them enough for storage, but you will concentrate the flavor of the mushroom and take out any water you've had to put in during the cleaning process.
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Old 04-13-2005, 11:12 AM   #9
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I've done both ways - if I'm using a lot of mushrooms in a recipe I will throw them in a colander, rinse them as I'm tossing them, dry on a paper towel - and I dry pretty well as I do not want the extra water in my skillet.

On portabellas there may be some larger spots that will require a paper towel to remove them - but I have found that rinsing them after I remove the gills works nicely.

I have changed philosophies on rinsing/bathing mushrooms over the years. I have never been able to tell a difference in my recipes.
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Old 04-13-2005, 12:17 PM   #10
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Give 'em a quick rinse (they have a high water content and won't pick up much more in a short period of time) and then throw them in your salad spinner.
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