Mushrooms absorb water and flavor! I have spent a lifetime teaching people how to use a damp paper towels to polish off the dirt on mushrooms because they absorb water.
So when I read something on the web that said mushrooms are jam filled with water when you purchase them, I was pretty surprised. Come to find out, not only do they have a ton of water in them, (but as I thought) they do suck up liquid and flavor like a sponge.
Here’s an interesting article I found that supports what I know to be true….. along with some links to recipes from Bon Appetit.
My favorite recipe is for Egg Rolls. Cabbage leaks water as you cook them, so I add caramelized mushrooms and onions. The mushrooms soak up any additional flavor and enable the wrappers to pan saute up crunchy.
Here’s what Bon Appetit has to say:
Earthy, meaty, and packed with umami, mushrooms are a great way to add depth and body to a dish. Whether they’re chanterelles, buttons, shiitakes, or maitakes or if they’re in a stew, risotto, or a scramble, we can’t get enough of this toothsome fungi. But, when you’re sautéing them for all of these dishes, there are some things you need to watch out for. We chatted with senior associate editor Alison Roman about the mistakes people often make when cooking mushrooms—and how to avoid them.
1. They’re Dirty, so Wash Them
“Mushrooms—especially wild mushrooms—are like little sponges: they’ll suck up any moisture. If you wash them, they’ll get waterlogged. Instead, clean them with a damp paper towel or brush them off with a pastry brush. Yes, it’s annoying to clean in all those little crevices under the cap—but it’s much better than having crunchy mushrooms. Full disclosure: If my mushrooms look relatively clean (and I know they are coming from a good place), I’ll skip the deep clean and just brush them a little. They’re a fungus, and they grow in dirt. Just accept you’ll be eating a teensy bit of dirt.”
2. Cook them Low and Slow
“As you know now, mushrooms have a ton of water in them. When you cook them in a pan, the water will seep out. If you keep the heat low, the mushrooms will just simmer in their liquid. Medium high or high heat will get rid of all that liquid and will give the mushrooms a nice brown color. Make sure all that water has evaporated before taking your ‘shrooms off the heat.”
3. A Drizzle of Oil Will Do You
“Because of how absorbent mushrooms can be, they love fat—and will absorb it quickly. And since you’re cooking them on a higher heat, they might burn if there’s not enough oil or butter. All mushrooms are different, so just keep an eye on them while they cook. If the pan looks too dry, add more fat.”
4. Pack them Into the Pan
“Don’t overcrowd your mushrooms! You want enough room for their liquid to evaporate—if you pack them in, they’ll just steam. Give them a little room to do their thing.”
5. The Slice Is Right
“You don’t always have to slice mushrooms. I like to quarter my button or cremini mushrooms, leave the tiny shiitakes and chanterelles whole, and tear the wild looking ones like maitakes and oyster.”
Thank goodness for Bon Appetit who sends me articles like this to prove I am not losing my mind! lol
When you know something for decades and then someone questions it, I think it’s always good to do research, because some things do change. But whether or not mushrooms absorb water, how to clean them, etc.?
Well, thank goodness, some things don’t change!
Healthy Happy Eating,