You just got back from the woods with a bumper-crop of wood ear mushrooms; now what? You need to clean them before you cook and eat them, but what is the best way to go about this task? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll talk about how to clean fresh wood ear mushrooms.
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3 Ways to Clean Wood Ear Mushrooms
When cleaning fresh mushrooms that you’ve just harvested, it’s important that you get all the dirt, forest debris, and bugs off of them. At the same time, many mushrooms are like sponges, and if they absorb too much of the wash water, it will affect their taste and texture once they are cooked.
With that in mind, there are different ways to clean mushrooms, including wood ears. Let’s take a closer look at each of the most popular methods in turn.
The Brush Method
A lot of mushroom enthusiasts believe you shouldn’t use any water for cleaning your mushrooms. These people prefer the brush method.
The brush method involves using a small brush such as a mushroom, pastry, or toothbrush to scrub away any stuck-on dirt or debris trapped in the crevices of the mushroom. The brush should be dry, and you simply scrape it across the mushroom’s surface wherever you see any dirt or debris.
This method works well for wood ears, which are naturally crinkly and have lots of little crevices that can harbor bits of debris. The mushrooms don’t typically get very dirty, since they grow from wood and not directly from the ground, so sometimes all they need in the way of cleaning is a good brushing.
Similar to the brush method, you can use a damp cloth to gently rub away any dirt you see. The cloth allows you to provide a more thorough clean without getting too much water on the mushrooms.
If you’re hesitant to run your mushrooms under water, or you simply don’t think they need to be washed, consider using a brush or a damp cloth to clean your wood ears.
The Rinse Method
Many mushroom hunters have the opinion that a little bit of water isn’t going to hurt most mushroom varieties. These people often opt to rinse their harvest quickly under running water.
For a small harvest, you could wash each mushroom individually by quickly rinsing it under a stream of cool, fresh water. For a larger harvest, simply place all the mushrooms in a colander and run them under your tap or kitchen sprayer.
As soon as you have rinsed them, shake off the excess water and place the mushrooms on a towel or paper towel. Allow them to dry for about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking with them.
This cleaning method works well for wood ears because of their rubbery, jelly-like texture; they do not absorb water as readily as some other types of mushrooms.
It also works well if you harvested your mushrooms from pieces of wood on the ground, where they might have gotten dirtier than normal.
The Dunk Method
There is still a third group of mushroom lovers who don’t mind if their mushrooms absorb some of the wash water. These people are most concerned that their mushrooms get as clean as possible, and as such, they will wash their mushrooms in a bowl of water using the dunk method.
As with the rinse method, you can do it one mushroom at a time for a small harvest. Fill a bowl with clean water and submerge each mushroom completely under the water, moving it around to loosen and wash away any dirt or insects hiding in the crevices.
For a larger batch, you may want to do several mushrooms at a time. Again, dunk them in a bowl of cool water and swish them around.
Don’t leave them in the water for very long; the longer they are in the water, the more they will absorb. Swish them around quickly for a few moments, then scoop them out of the water and place them on towels or layers of paper towel.
Allow them to dry for at least 30 minutes or up to two hours; the longer they dry, the more water will drain and evaporate from them. At the same time, you don’t want to leave them out for too long or they may begin to go bad.
Again, this method works well for wood ear mushrooms because they don’t absorb water as quickly as other mushrooms. As long as you don’t leave them in the rinse water for more than a couple of minutes, you should have no problem cleaning your wood ears in this way.
What is the Best Way to Clean Wood Ear Mushrooms?
So, we just outlined the top three ways to clean mushrooms, but you may still be wondering: which method works best for wood ears?
The short answer is: it depends on who you ask.
Again, different people prefer different methods. Some don’t want to use any water when cleaning their mushrooms, while others prefer rinsing or soaking them.
What’s more, some people may want to wash their mushrooms if they are especially dirty or buggy but will use a dry brush if they are already fairly clean.
If you’re not sure which method to use, try all of them and see which one you prefer. You may even want to use a combination of methods–for example, taking a brush to the cracks and crevices, then running the mushrooms under water to wash the dirt away.
With a little bit of experimentation, you’ll soon discover which method works best for you and your specific crop of mushrooms.
Again, with wood ears, any of the methods outlined above will work well. They don’t absorb water as quickly as some mushrooms, so you can rinse them or dunk them without having to worry about them soaking up too much water.
At the same time, they usually don’t get very dirty, so you may find that all you need to do is brush out the crevices to make sure there are no bits of dirt or insects hiding inside.
In short, the choice is up to you.
Check out this video to learn more about cleaning wood ear mushrooms, as well as harvesting and drying them.
Wood ear mushrooms can be cleaned using a dry brush or damp cloth, by running them under water, or by dunking them in a bowl of clean water. Each of these methods work well for cleaning wood ears, so choose whichever method you would prefer to use.