How to clean and wash foraged mushrooms

How to clean foraged mushrooms quickly & easily like a pro

I’ve been foraging since the early 80ies, when I was a kid. I have always loved picking and cooking them – but man did I ever hate cleaning them! So trust this lazy fucker to come up with the quickest and easiest way to get them cleaned perfectly, and with the least amount of effort!

Here’s the controversy: there are those who say you’re crazy if you put the mushroom in water, they’ll become “soggy”, or that they’ll be ruined forever. This is, of course, 100% factually incorrect. Rubbish. Bullshit. Myth.

If the mushroom got ruined by water it wouldn’t, by its own free will, establish its habitat outside, in the rain, in the first place.

The argument that it’ll become “soggy” is, of course, also invalid. Mushrooms are typically 92% water, so they are pretty damned “soggy” already, and they are only able to absorb maximum 2% of their bodyweight in water.

Simple math says that 100 grams of mushrooms contains 92 grams of water already. If it soaks up an additional 2 % of its body weight, it has increased its total weight by 2 grams, thus clocking in at a whopping 102 grams. It’s nothing.

Myth debunked. Period.

How to rinse & wash mushrooms the quick and easy way:

Cleaning foraged mushrooms

When out foraging, I like to do the main cleaning outdoors, in the woods. That means just quickly cutting away the parts of the base (the “root”) that have dirt and stones and tiny twigs etc embedded in it with a knife, and scrape or brush off any dirt on the stem.

For all Boletaceae family mushrooms, I remove the spores and check for infestations by slicing them through, stem to cap. I then cut away any infested areas. No point in bringing back a bunch of maggots, and it’s a very quick operation.

Back on the boat, I set up a cleaning station. I am right handed, so I work from the right to the left; uncleaned mushrooms are placed all the way to the right, next to the sink. On my left hand side is a container for garbage and my salad spinner, and next to that again, wire racks over a tray to dry off.

The sink is filled with water, and the mushrooms are dumped into the water. I then quickly stir with my hands to get off the worst dirt and grit, before I continue rinsing and inspecting each muchroom individually. I primarily use my fingers to clean them since it’s much faster and gentler than any tool can be, but some times I use my mushroom knife that also have a small brush.

There’s no need to be anal about the individual inspection since the water has done 90% of the job for you already.

Mushrooms like the yellowfoot and funnel chanterelle, black trumpet etc, that are hollow in the middle I tear open by pulling on the cap. It’ll split up easily, and you can rinse away any dirt, bugs, snail eggs etc. that may have snuck into its funnel.

Hedgehog mushrooms I rub off the spores under water. It’s not necessary, but it makes the food more appealing without the tiny spiky spores everywhere.

When the mushrooms are cleaned, I place them in the salad spinner, then spin them for a few seconds, then empty the spinner on a wire rack to dry for an hour and up to several days, or until completely dry.

If I have a bunch of mushrooms that needs to dry, I place them in our big, hanging mushroom drier and air dry them until completely dry. Having a dehumidifier onboard speeds up this process greatly!

In short, depending on what kind of mushrooms you have, you can go through several kilos of mushrooms in a matter of 15-30 minutes with this method.

I always try to let the mushrooms dry for at least 24 hours before using since they are 92% water on average. Two full days is just fine too. This will bring down the water content quite a bit, and make it much easier to actually fry the mushrooms instead of just boiling them 😉

Pssst!! How about checking out some delicious mushroom recipes while you’re here?

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