It’s a well-known fact that produce should be washed prior to cooking or raw consumption…but could mushrooms be the exception to the rule? Indeed, the question of how to clean mushrooms has become a source of confusion among many home cooks, which is why we asked not one, but three different experts to weigh in. Here’s the full scoop on how to clean your fungi, courtesy of culinary and gardening pros. (And yes, there was a consensus!)
How to Clean Mushrooms the Right Way
Meet the Experts
- Emilie Berner is the Lead Chef of Online Plant-Based Culinary Arts & Food Operations at the Institute of Culinary Education.
- Catherine Snowden has worked as a food editor at Food and Wine magazine and as a professional chef in a wide variety of restaurants. Now, she is the editor-in-chief of Fascinating Sky, an award-winning cooking site that features chef-tested recipes, cooking tutorials, equipment reviews and more.
- Tony O'Neill, author of Composting Masterclass and Your First Vegetable Garden, is a renowned gardening expert and the founder of simplifygardening.com, which was recognized as the Ezoic Publisher of the Year in 2021.
Should You Wash Mushrooms?
No—and here’s why. All the experts agree that it is best to avoid water when cleaning mushrooms. Per Snowden, “fresh mushrooms should not be washed or soaked before cooking because of their sponge-like adsorption, which can result in taste loss and a watery texture.” That said, there are many different kinds of mushrooms, and some can tolerate water better than others.
For example, Berner notes that you can dunk cremini and button mushrooms in cold water with fine results, since these types are “tightly bound and do not have the gills exposed,” and are thus less likely to turn into a soggy mess. If you choose to wash or rinse your creminis, though, Berner emphasizes that you should make it quick and be sure to dry them thoroughly after.
Still, it’s very rarely necessary to wash mushrooms—even the kinds that can tolerate it—and almost always advisable to opt for a different cleaning method that gets the job done without potentially ruining your shrooms. (But more on that below.)
How to Clean Mushrooms
All three pros recommend using a (mostly) dry cleaning method that involves gently rubbing the mushroom’s surface with a damp, not drenched, cloth to remove any visible dirt and debris.
In most cases, this basic cleaning technique will suffice, but there are a few exceptions: “Some [wild mushroom] varieties with intricate gills or crevices might require more detailed cleaning,” says O’Neill. Specifically, chanterelles and morels have a more complex structure that benefits from being cleaned with a special brush designed for the task. (Again, be sure to employ a dry brushing technique and use a light hand, lest you damage the delicate fungi.)
Structural properties aside, it’s important to tailor your cleaning approach to the extent of dirt present. In fact, “some mushrooms are grown on logs or environments where there’s not a lot of dirt, so they may not require any cleaning at all,” says Berner, adding that “If they look clean, they’re probably OK.” Roger that.
How to Clean Sliced Mushrooms
This one is a little tricky—and not all the experts are on the same page this time. O’Neill recommends cleaning them with a damp cloth, Snowden advises running them under cold water and using your hands to gently wipe away any remaining debris before thoroughly drying them, and Berner says that there’s no need to clean them at all, since mushrooms should be cleaned prior to slicing. So where does that leave us? Well, we’re going to go out on a limb and say any of the above suggestions are probably A-OK…but, whatever you do, don’t soak those suckers!