Cleaning Mushrooms

dirty chanterelles and cleaning tools - cloth, brush, knife, peeler


Whether your mushrooms are wild and growing in dirt or on a tree trunk or cultivated and store-bought, considering how to best keep them free from any debris that will make the eating of them anything but perfectly pleasant is time well spent.

Cleaning mushrooms is a necessity, and the process begins even before they've been harvested. In the forest, a sharp knife and brush and a clean, sturdy-sided container to carry mushrooms in helps keep dirt, clay. sand and debris where it belongs, which is where it came from, and not in your meal.

Cultivated mushrooms need a once-over as well. You most likely have all the tools you need in your kitchen already.

Chanterelles and Similar Mushrooms

Start cleaning your mushrooms hours before you use them and you'll have clean dry mushrooms when you're ready to cook. You can do this even the day before.

Clean chanterelles require just a little brushing, but from some habitats they're dirty and must be washed. Forget all that nonsense about never washing mushrooms because the flavor will wash away. The chanetelle in your hand probably took 1 to 3 weeks to grow and has already gone through plenty of rain baths.

Step 1

Turn cool to lukewarm water from your faucet to low flow. Hold the mushroom briefly under the the water and brush lightly with a clean brush. Also rinse the dirt from the brush itself under the flowing water. This way you can keep lifting the dirt from the mushroom while minimizing water the mushroom soaks up. Repeat this until clean.

brush off dirt with a clean, damp brush
Step 2

First place the washed mushrooms into a colander to drip, then put these cleaned mushrooms on a towel-lined pan or anything flat with drainage holes.

let cleaned mushrooms drain
Step 3

Put the mushrooms by a fan or a sunny window. The goal here is to be rid of the excess moisture and have nice dry sautéable mushrooms.

After they're clean and dry, put them into the refrigerator.

allow mushrooms to dry by a sunny window
Step 4

If you do any sort of dunk, make sure the plunge is quick and vigorous, not allowing the mushrooms to soak. In the home kitchen, you can also use the sink's handled sprayer for a quick rinse.

you can do a quick spray, but don't let mushrooms soak

Cleaning Porcini

Step 1

Your kitchen potato peeler is ideal for cleaning the base.

dried mushrooms
Step 2

Porcini and many other mushrooms can be cleaned with a simple damp cloth.

for the initial cleaning, try a damp cloth. Many mushrooms need no more than a wipe.

Cleaning Black Trumpet, Yellow Feet and hollow varieties

Step 1

Trim off the dirty bottom tip of the mushroom and then split open the vase-shaped mushroom. Rinse and rub the inside and outside of the mushroom to clean away the forest debris and dirt.

split a tube mushroom down the middle of the tube to clean
Step 2

Place the damp, cleaned mushrooms on a towel-lined pan to drain and dry out again.


clean the inside of the tube with a damp cloth