How to Clean Portobello Mushrooms—and Why It's Important

Plus, crucial mushroom storage tips.

Portabello Mushrooms
Photo: Olivia Barr

Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses, full of fiber and antioxidants, but we don't eat them exclusively for their health benefits. We love mushrooms for their earthy, umami flavor and their ability to stand in for meat in many recipes. Portobello mushrooms are our favorite pick when it comes to replacing meat with mushrooms; they're easy to find at most grocery stores, and their generous size and thickness make them the perfect substitute for meat to throw on the grill or roast and tuck into a sandwich. Before you cook with portobellos, however, make sure to clean them correctly and thoroughly. Here's everything you need to know about cleaning and storing portobello mushrooms.

Why You Need to Clean Portobello Mushrooms

When you buy portobello mushrooms at the store and see what looks like dirt in the packaging, chances are it's not actually dirt. Portobellos are a cultivated variety of mushroom (versus wild), and are likely grown in sanitized, composted peat moss. While the moss is safe to consume, it can be disconcerting to do so, so we prefer to give our shrooms a rinse. Some people will tell you it's a bad idea to wash mushrooms because they'll absorb too much water and get soggy, but we're here to tell you that's a myth. Mushrooms are already mostly made of water, so a quick rinse won't make a noticeable difference if it's done right.

How to Clean Whole Portobello Mushrooms

Ready to cook up some meaty portobellos? First make sure you adequately clean your whole shrooms.

  1. Remove the stems, which can be woody and unpleasant to eat. We find that a spoon does the trick, but you may need the help of a small knife.
  2. Place the de-stemmed mushrooms in a colander in your sink.
  3. Spray the mushrooms with water until any excess debris is gone.
  4. Lay out your mushrooms on clean dish towels and let them dry completely.

How to Clean Sliced Portobello Mushrooms

Since sliced portobello mushrooms have no stem, they are a bit easier to clean.

  1. Place the sliced mushrooms in a colander in your sink.
  2. Spray the mushrooms with water until the debris is gone.
  3. Lay out your mushrooms on clean dish towels and let dry completely.

How to Store Portobello Mushrooms After Washing

Whole mushrooms last longer than sliced ones, so it's best to keep them whole for storage. Once the portobellos are completely dry post-rinse, put them in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator. The opening will allow for ventilation and keep them good for a few days.

Keep in mind that even the freshest mushrooms will spoil relatively quickly, so make sure to cook your portobellos soon after purchasing them—ideally within four to seven days. The same goes for sliced portobello mushrooms. You want to create a dry, ventilated environment in the fridge for them to stay fresh for longer. Once cooked, you generally have another three to five days to enjoy the flavorful fungi.

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