How to Clean Mushrooms

Mushrooms brighten so many dishes with their earthy freshness. Before cooking mushrooms or adding them to favorite dishes, give them a quick cleaning. Here's how.

Mushrooms grow low to the ground and tend to still be a bit dirty when sold in stores. The key to great-tasting mushrooms is to buy them fresh and clean them without letting them get waterlogged. Follow these tips on purchasing quality mushrooms and cleaning, storing, and prepping them, including directions for morel mushrooms.

Selecting and Storing Mushrooms

  • Mushrooms are fresh if they are firm, plump, and free from bruises with no visible moisture on the outside. Avoid slimy or spotted mushrooms.
  • For white mushrooms, also called button mushrooms, the gills on the under side should be tightly closed.
  • Store mushrooms (except morels) unwashed in the refrigerator for up to two days in a paper bag or the original packaging. Because they need to breathe, mushrooms shouldn't be stored in a plastic bag. For morel mushrooms, clean as directed below, wrap cleaned mushrooms loosely in damp paper towels or damp clean cotton cloth, and place the bundle in a bowl. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days, keeping towels damp so the mushrooms don't dry out.
  • With the exception of morels, clean mushrooms as shown below right before using.
  • Mushroom math: 8 ounces whole equals 3 cups sliced or chopped.

How to Clean Mushrooms

  • For all mushrooms (except morels), use a damp paper towel or a soft mushroom brush to wipe each mushroom, one at a time, to remove any dirt. You can lightly rinse the mushrooms with cool water and pat dry with paper towels, but do not soak the mushrooms. Because they absorb water like little sponges, mushrooms won't brown nicely when cooked if they are full of water.
  • For morels, cut a thin slice off the bottom of each stem and, if desired, cut the mushrooms in half from stem to tip. Rinse in cool water to remove any dirt and insects. If the mushrooms look clean, this may be enough; if not, a short soak in lightly salted water brings out any remaining insects and dirt. If soaking, change the water as needed until the dirt and debris are removed. Rinse the morels well, pat dry, and use in place of other mushrooms in recipes.

How to Cut Mushrooms

  • After cleaning the mushrooms, on a cutting surface trim thin slices from the ends of the stems.
  • Use a sharp knife, preferably not serrated, to cut the mushrooms into halves or quarters or to slice or chop as needed.

How to Clean Mushrooms for Stuffing

  • For white mushrooms and cremini mushrooms, choose fairly large mushrooms. Clean as directed above. Gently twist off or cut off the stem of each mushroom. You can reserve the stems to use in the filling, if desired. Use a teaspoon to fill each mushroom with desired filling.
  • For portobello mushrooms, clean as directed above. Gently twist off or cut off the stem of each mushroom. You can reserve the stems to use in the filling, if desired. Holding a mushroom in one hand, as shown here, use a spoon to gently scrape out all of the gills from the underside of the portobello mushroom cap and discard. Repeat with remaining mushrooms. Now they are ready to stuff.


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