Why Do We Peel Portobello Mushrooms?

Well, it beats me. I don’t know why. Facts are facts though, and every chef on telly peels their Portobello mushrooms. Even Jamie peels his. The contestants on Master Chef do, too.


So I decided to try it both ways. One peeled, and the other not. Same ingredients. Both on the same tray, baked at the same temperature for the same length of time.

Guess what? No difference whatsoever. If anything the unpeeled one held its shape a bit better. Now I don’t know why the professionals bother, and I wondering what’s up with it. Do you peel your large, flat mushrooms? Is there a benefit?

By the way, these were really yummy. A drizzle of olive oil, then topped with the chopped up stems, sautéed chopped garlic, fresh chives, and thin shavings of cheddar cheese and lots of pepper. We like pepper. Baked in a medium oven for about 12-minutes until the cheese blistered. I’ve also made these with pesto smeared into the dark gills, then sautéed garlic, chives and parmesan shavings. That’s good too.

I’d be very interested hearing if you peel your mushrooms!

32 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo says:

    I only peel mushrooms if they look really grim or they have lots of soil rubbed into them. I rarely wash them either as they just absorb water and go mushy. It all depends on what they look like. But then I hardly watch any cookery programmes so I miss all this business. What interests me too is that professional cooks and kitchens apparently don’t use glassware i.e. glass bowls and so on because of the risk of contamination if one breaks. But all the cooking shows have them using glass, because it is teleivisual and to help you the viewer see what is in their little bowls. But do they say anything about that ? Going back to the mushrooms maybe they peel so they can’t be accused of being unsafe. Commerically mushrooms are grown in spent chicken compost, so there is a risk that they could be contaminated with poo but then that applies to anything grown in soil made with compost doesn’t it? What is soil if not worm poo? Food grown hydroponically tends not to have as much taste as food grown in proper soil imo. OK rant over, not sure where that one came from xx Jo

    1. Misky says:

      Yeah, you! All this fear of eating anything grown naturally is annoying me no end. All this fear of bacteria, and darned sprays that kill off everything including a good healthy immune system … Oh, I could go on for yonks about that. I didn’t know about the glassware but it certainly makes sense. I use Rosti plastic bowls or stainless myself. I do have some old glass bowls but tend to use them for serving rather than food preparation. Back to mushrooms … I never wash them; they go all slick and slime-ish. Just a little brush is all I use. I have a cute little pink mushroom shaped one that Emma thought was pretty. She liked pink then – now she likes purple. She had no idea what a mushroom was until I showed her. 😀

  2. How interesting, Misky!
    I have never heard of peeling portobello mushrooms. They are great on the bbq, a good substitute for a hamburger.
    Like your tips in the last paragraph (I don’t want to miss any by listing them). Think I will try these as a side dish tonight for supper. The chives are just awaiting! 🙂

    1. Misky says:

      Hi Patricia! The outside skin comes off very easily – not fuss at all – I just think it’s something that chefs are trying to convince us is necessary when it’s not. I think that Jo might have a good view on it when saying it might be the growing medium that’s causing all this nonsense.

      I haven’t tried putting them on the BBQ yet. Come summer, if it ever arrives, I will give it a try!

  3. Linda E.H. says:

    I never peel any mushrooms. If I can’t get them fresh from the local market, then I look for the best ones at the supermarket. If there aren’t any nice fresh ones, I don’t buy them. If don’t rinse them but wipe the dirt away with a damp cloth. Mushrooms are one of my daughter’s favorite things. We usually get porcini since portobellos are hard to get in our area. I miss portobellos. They were always my favorite when we lived in the U.S. We do get some great chanterelles.

    I stuff giant mushrooms with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, onion, mushroom, bread crumbs and herbs and white wine. Of course, a bit of shredded cheese on top before baking.

    1. Misky says:

      Hi Linda! Oh chanterelles are one of my favourite mushrooms. Such a beautiful and delicate thing with wonderful flavour. I rarely see them in our supermarket. I haven’t seen them at all in local farmer’s market either. Thanks for commenting on this peeling mushrooms question. Maybe it’s just the professionals who are doing it?

      How do you cook those chanterelles?

    2. Steve Penman says:

      Well the reason I’ve always peeled field mushrooms is cos I picked them out of paddocks where sheep & cows pee & poo. Simple as that. The skin is natures little protection! I guess the store bought mushrooms don’t grow in the wild – as it were – so probably don’t need peeing.

  4. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Hi ya Misky– I do peel my portobellos. They do hold their shape brilliantly, and, to the super sensitive, they are less toothy when cooked. Pros bother because home cooks don’t. It like sous vide. Pros do that technique because most home cooks won’t. These little things give me a job. 😀

    1. Misky says:

      Hi Janet, and thank you so very much for replying! That answers my question very well – at least in the sense of why professionals do it. So if every ‘home cook’ (why does that term make me wince? Even pros must cook at home, right?) starts peeling their Portobellos, then the pros will be searching for some other flourish to keep their professional standards on top, right?

      1. Janet Rörschåch says:

        Exactly. I was going to use the word amateur and that one made me wince too. I will tell you this, when the pros cook at home, good Lord, the mistakes!

        1. Misky says:

          😀 Things are a bit different when you don’t have a Wolf hob, eh?

          1. Janet Rörschåch says:

            Ha! And minions….

  5. I never peel mushrooms – what a waste I say.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. Misky says:

      I don’t think I’ll bother in the future. I couldn’t taste or ‘feel’ the different after baking.

  6. It’s a winner! Last evening, baked these mushrooms, unpeeled, with the pesto topping–delish! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Misky says:

      I’m truly delighted that you had success with the pesto version. That one is Peder’s favourite, too.

  7. Many years ago, before Pete and I were even engaged (I think I was only 19 at the time), I visited his family just outside Canberra. At the time, his mother took care of the horses for a neighbouring property. One afternoon, she came in with a giant bucket of field mushrooms and took them to the sink and started brushing them off. Then she cooked them up in a pan and served them. “Where did you find them?” I asked. “Under a huge cowpat in that big field over there..” she said, pointing out a window.

    I’ve washed and peeled my mushrooms ever since. 🙂

    1. Misky says:

      I wish I could press that thumbs-up button a hundred times, because I love this story! I am definitely going to try washing mine next time. 🙂

  8. lizzygoodthings says:

    Misky I think peeling mushrooms is a thing of the past, like peeling asparagus. Mind you, I sold asparagus peelers when I co-owned the cookware store and cooking school and there were people who seriously bought them. I don’t recommend washing mushrooms, as they soak up water like a sponge… gently brush off any impurities. There is more information here http://www.powerofmushrooms.com.au/did-you-know/selection-storage-and-preparation/

    1. Misky says:

      I’ve never peeled asparagus, although I’ve seen plenty of professional chefs on telly do it. Even the BBC Good Food website recommends peeling them. I don’t because I reckon a lot of the goodness and fibre is in the skin.

      Thank you for the link on the mushrooms. Let me add fuel to the embers; read this article from The Guardian newspaper that Joanna sent me. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/jan/18/should-you-wash-mushrooms

  9. I peel button mushrooms, mostly because I can’t be bothered to wash them

    1. Misky says:

      Good enough reason! 😀

  10. I don’t think I need to say too much more, as the previous commenters have said it all. Definitely agree with not washing or peeling them, only if wiping/brushing them doesn’t remove all the dirt. Having said that, I am referring to commercially grown ones. If they are getting a little old, i’ll peel them. But if they came wild from under a cow pat….welll enough said…wash, peel, water blast them until you are satisfied they are clean. But also we are often too frightened of bacteria and germs. There are good germs out there too. Love my hrooms!

    1. Misky says:

      I tried rinsing mine last night, just to test the difference, and I couldn’t detect any difference between the two methods of cleaning. I do think that brushing them off is easier but I won’t hesitate to rinse them now, if they’re particularly mucky. Thanks, Amanda, for stopping by and leaving a comment about how you approach this. 🙂

  11. Diana says:

    I’ve always washed my mushrooms, at first because I didn’t know any better, and later because i couldn’t tell any difference vis-a-vis the supposedly mushy texture that would result. I have not had a problem with mushy texture. After all, they live in the damp, doesn’t that make them a little moisture proof? ^_^ As for peeling, that is new to me. I want all the flavor possible, so I don’t know that i would want them peeled unless they were excessively large and tough.

    1. Misky says:

      Portobello mushrooms are quite massive, indeed!

  12. Bev Cowling says:

    I always peel my musrooms, I have seen what they grow in, Just brushing them off
    don’t clean them good enough for me.And button mushrooms are so nice & white after they are peeled.

    1. dianne says:

      I see this is an older threadbut wanted to throw in my two cents anyway. I cooked these for the first time and the skin was so tough I couldnt eat them! It came off in tough sinewy strips. I cooked the first two on a pan on the stove and I cooked the next two under a broiler with the same tough inedible skin. Im peeling mine! (Just think of all the nasty hands that have handled those things in the store!) Cheers!

  13. Derick Rohs says:

    Ive been in the industry for 10 years and never peeled a portobello or really even marinated one. Now that im devolping a menu a vegan porto option was a big mustnon the menu. I agree with what was said earlier, peeling them is a breeze, its fun, you have no dirt and its a pretty product.

    Never wash a mushie, thats a cardinal sin in my book if I were at all religious, a lighting dusting or scraping with a spoon.

    I marinate mine in shallot oil, dijon mustard, basil, mint, roasted garlic, chili flakes salt and pepper

    1. Misky says:

      I’ve taken to peeling mushrooms since this discussion, and I admit that it’s dead easy to do and gives good results. Your marinade sounds delicious.

  14. jasmineboop says:

    I know that this is a very old post but I wanted to add something. I am from the United States and peel all mushrooms for my mom. She has a nickel allergy and the skin is higher in nickel then the rest of the mushroom.

    1. Misky says:

      Interesting. I didn’t know that.

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