Portobello mushrooms make a delectable addition to countless dishes. However—whether you plan to grill, sautee, or bake portobello mushrooms in the oven—you have to clean them first. Cleaning portobello mushrooms is an easy process that takes a few minutes, but there are a few things to keep in mind during the process.
So, if you’ve ever wondered, “How do you clean portobello mushrooms?” read on! You’ll learn everything you need to know using my beginner-friendly tips.
Wipe Clean Mushrooms or Give Them a Quick Wash:
I’m sure you’ve heard many sources say that washing mushrooms isn’t a good idea. However, folks over at Cooks Illustrated tested this myth. They concluded that it’s entirely safe to wash mushrooms under two conditions:
- If they’re whole mushrooms, meaning that they’re not cut or sliced
- You can wash them right before cooking
In short, washing portobello mushrooms under cold running water for 10-20 seconds is okay. In fact, it’s one of the great ways to clean them!
Quickly rinsing your mushrooms under cold water is the best way to clean them if you have many small, round mushrooms to prepare (i.e., smaller mushrooms, like portobellos’ close cousin, cremini mushrooms, or button mushrooms). However, if you’re using the large mushroom caps as I do here, you can also use a moist sponge to clean them one by one.
To hand-wash your mushrooms, fill a cup with water, soak a clean sponge in the liquid, and squeeze out as much water as you can. Then, gently wipe the mushroom caps. Be sure to get the underside of the caps and the stems until no dirt or debris remains.
Since I’m always buying mushrooms at our grocery store (seriously, there are so many delicious mushroom recipes to try!), I have a cheap sponge that I use just for cleaning different kinds of mushrooms. However, if you don’t have a sponge on hand, you can also use a damp paper towel, mushroom cleaning brush (affiliate link), or a damp cloth to clean portobello mushrooms.
Next, turn the portobello mushroom over. Holding the mushroom in the palm of your hand, use a paring knife to slice off the inner edges while slowly rotating the mushroom. This paring will expose the gills located on the underside of the mushroom.
Then, using a dessert spoon, gently scrape the gills away. Be careful not to go too deep into the mushroom’s flesh during this step. Continue working around the mushroom until you remove all of the gills.
While the gills of a portobello mushroom are edible, most people prefer removing them. This preference might be because the mushrooms’ dark brown gills often transfer their muddy color to your dish and give it an unappetizing look.
Others also claim that dark gills have a bitter taste. However, during my recipe testing, I didn’t experience any changes in taste when I cooked portobello mushrooms with or without the gills.
I choose to remove the gills to eliminate any dirt or debris hidden underneath them. However, as long as you thoroughly clean the underside of the mushrooms, you can skip removing their gills.
Some sources also recommend peeling the top skin of the portobello mushrooms to expose the white flesh. Still, I think this is an unnecessary step. Wiping off the surface of the mushroom cleans them sufficiently.
Remove or Trim the Stems:
I recommend removing the portobello mushroom stems, as they have a tough texture and a woody flavor.
To remove the stem, use your fingers to grip it from the bottom of the mushroom, twist it, and pop it right out. Alternatively, you can also trim the stem using a sharp knife.
You may choose to discard the stems or do what I do: save and use portobello stems to make my weekly vegetable or chicken stock.
Slice or Use as a Whole
Depending on your recipe, you can prepare portobello mushrooms using the whole cap or slice them into long thin strips.
If you are using these great-tasting mushrooms in a recipe, I suggest placing the mushroom cap on a cutting board and slicing it into ¼ inch-thick slices.
According to this Mushrooms 101 article on Cook’s Illustrated, the best way to store portobello mushrooms is to place them in a partially open plastic bag, such as a Ziploc bag. It’s essential to leave the bag partly open to maximize air circulation and allow the ethylene gas emitted from the mushrooms to release.
Additionally, you can also store fresh mushrooms in their original packaging. Those containers are designed to breathe, which helps release ethylene gas and balance the amount of moisture in the mushrooms.
If you’ve heard that storing portobello mushrooms in a brown paper bag is a good option, I don’t recommend it. According to the abovementioned Cook’s Illustrated article, paper bags “turn the fungi spongy and wrinkly.”
Some people like to peel the top skin of the portobello mushroom to expose the white flesh underneath. However, you don’t need to peel portobello mushrooms unless you’re trying to remove a part of the skin that’s either damaged or bruised.
The stems of portobello mushrooms are technically edible. However, they have a tough texture and a woody, bland flavor, so it’s best to remove them. You can discard these small pieces or, better yet, use them to make vegetable broth or chicken stock.
Yes, the dark gills of portobello mushrooms are edible. However, most chefs remove them as they darken the color of the dish they are using them in.
Most people remove the mushroom gills during the cleaning process because dirt or sand may hide in the gill structure. It’s also possible that those dark gills may give your dish a dark color and unappetizing look once cooked.
When buying mushrooms, it’s best to buy them whole and wash and slice them yourself. However, if sliced mushrooms are your only option, then you can place them in a salad spinner, rinse them under cold water for 10-20 seconds, and then spin to dry.
Nowadays, most packaged sliced mushrooms at grocery stores are prewashed. However, you can put them in a colander and rinse them under cool water if you want.
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If you try this method, please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. And if you took some pictures, be sure to share them on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them on my stories.
How To Clean Portobello Mushrooms
- 4 portobello mushroom caps or more
Wipe Clean Mushrooms or Give Them a Quick Wash:
- When it comes to cleaning mushrooms you can do one of two things. First, place them in a colander, rinse under cold water for 30 seconds, and pat dry them with paper towels.
- Second, fill a small bowl with water, soak a clean sponge (or a kitchen towel), and squeeze out as much water as you can. Then, gently wipe the mushroom caps. Be sure to get the underside of the caps and the stems until no dirt or debris remains.
- Turn the portobello mushroom over. Holding the mushroom in the palm of your hand, use a paring knife to slice off the inner edges while slowly rotating the mushroom. This paring will expose the gills located on the underside of the mushroom.
- Then, using a dessert spoon, gently scrape the gills away. Be careful not to go too deep into the mushroom’s flesh during this step. Continue working around the mushroom until you remove all of the gills.
Remove or Trim the Stems:
- To remove the stem, use your fingers to grip it from the bottom of the mushroom, twist it, and pop it right out. Alternatively, you can also trim the stem using a sharp knife.
Slice or Use as A Whole
- Depending on your recipe, you can prepare portobello mushrooms using the whole cap or slice them into long thin strips.
My uncle did not aporiciate the removal of the gills. He said that that’s where most of the flavor was.
The good thing is that you (and your uncle) can keep the gills if you feel against removing them.