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May 14, 2014

Experts' Expert: Is it safe to eat dirty mushrooms?


C. Claiborne Ray's April 21 Q&A in the New York Times Science section addressed this question as follows.

Q. It is often hard to wash off the growing medium from store-bought mushrooms. Is it safe to eat? Should the stems be further trimmed?

A. Though it is always a good idea to rinse off fruits and vegetables, the consumer is not at much risk from commercially grown mushroom residue, in the opinion of Kathie T. Hodge, an associate professor of mycology at Cornell.

"Even if you don’t clean the mushrooms, it’s probably fine," said Dr. Hodge, who writes the Cornell Mushroom Blog.

Common grocery store mushrooms, Agaricus bisporus, which include the white button, cremini and portobello varieties, "are grown in what is basically compost," she said. "It's usually heat-treated, not entirely sterile, but a lot of organisms have been killed."

Every producer has its own recipe, including organic things like straw, peat moss, manure if it is obtainable, canola meal or cottonseed meal, and inorganic things like lime or gypsum. Then it is allowed to compost — that is, ferment — and then it is heat-treated, "trying to get rid of most things so the mushrooms will take over," Dr. Hodge said.

Mushrooms can rot like anything else, she said, and the rotten ones should not be eaten. But cutting off the stem ends is purely cosmetic. And commercially grown mushrooms are certainly safer than mushrooms gathered in the woods by nonexperts.

May 14, 2014 at 04:01 AM | Permalink


FYI: the topic photo is a Shiitake.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | May 15, 2014 1:31:22 AM

"commercially grown mushrooms are certainly safer than mushrooms gathered in the woods by nonexperts"

Horse pucky! (I used some to grow mushrooms, once upon a time.)

The Morel is easily identified, difficult to culture, currently approaching the end of their season, and are delicious with scrambled eggs.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | May 15, 2014 1:29:07 AM

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