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Old 04-13-2005, 05:50 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, 06:59 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, 07:38 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, 07:47 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, 07:55 AM   #5
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cleaning mushrooms
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:30 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, 08:34 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, 08:37 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, 10:12 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, 11:17 AM   #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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Old 04-13-2005, 02:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter
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.

I always wash mine and have never had a problem. I use the salad spinner too.
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Old 04-13-2005, 02:55 PM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by Otter
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.
That sounds like a plan to me!
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Old 04-13-2005, 05:07 PM   #13
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I think, like with most things, do what is most comfortable for you. If the mushrooms have dirt I wipe off or rince quickly under the faucet. I try not to get moisture in the underpart, which I believe is where moisture would be absorbed, not on the button-type top. Love nearly all types of mushrooms and if I get a little dirt, so be it.
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Old 04-13-2005, 06:29 PM   #14
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Hey Guys - Thanks for all your input on my question. I do just the quick rinse thing and gently wipe off with a paper towel. I do not soak them at all. I found the reference to Alton Brown's experiment interesting so, it seems to me that a lot of the other cooking shows are just making a big deal out of nothing. Now when they go into there "expert" advice on this topic, I will just talk back to the TV saying Yada-yada-yada. What a helpful bunch you all are !
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cats
... 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. ...
I sincerly doubt that a quick rinse will do anything to "sanatize" your mushrooms - but, if it makes you fell better, it won't hurt. Cooking will "sanatize" them. If mine are whole and "dirty" I just wipe them with a paper towel, a cloth dish towel, or a pastry brush - whatever is handy at the moment. If they are "pre sliced" - or something other than button mushrooms - I rinse them under a "vegetable sprayer" and spin them dry in my salad spinner.

Yep - I watched Alton Brown's "myth busters" episode ... and I have something for him to consider ... which might account for why it didn't matter how long the mushrooms soaked since they all weighted about the same in the end.

The primary external structure of the mushrooms is cellulose ... which is not water soluable except under heat ... therefore they would not soak up any appreciable amount of water. However, the gills on the bottom would retain water due to capillary action (water molecules get trapped between the gills and don't drain off as droplets because the space is too small, and the surface tension is too great, for the water to form a particle large enough to form a cohesive "drop").

Even with dried mushrooms .... which you have to soak in near boiling water to rehydrate .... they are not mushy waterlogged morsels of fungi.
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