There are many myths being told about mushrooms. To be fair, mushrooms are the most mysterious of ingredients that frequent the kitchen counter -- from the way they grow to the way they are best prepared. For many of us cooking with these fungi, it feels like we're working in the dark.
We're here to shed a little light by clearing up the biggest mystery of all: Do you or do you NOT wash mushrooms?
It's been said in the past that mushrooms should absolutely never, ever be washed. The theory is that because mushrooms are porous they will take a big drink when in contact with water, then bloat and lose their flavor. The alternative to washing mushrooms is wiping down each and every one with a damp paper cloth or even a special mushroom brush -- it's time-consuming work, especially if you want to cook a whole box.
The fine folks at Cooks Illustrated were not really okay with that solution. They wondered how much water a mushroom -- which is already full of water -- can really absorb. They put the theory to the test. What they found is that after a quick rinse, six ounces of mushrooms only gained a quarter ounce of water. That's not particularly significant, especially considering how much time is saved by rinsing instead of wiping. This changes everything.
Cooks Illustrated isn't the only one singing the praises of rinsing -- note, we said rinsing not soaking. Mark Bittman -- the man who can cook everything -- says the same thing. The Kitchn thirds it. They shared one of their favorite quotes when it comes to shrooms: "Mushrooms need a shower, not a bath." That means you can clean mushrooms with water, just don't leave them to soak any longer than necessary. Give them a quick rinse right before you plan to cook with them and dry the mushrooms immediately.