The 10 Biggest Mistakes People Make with Mushrooms and How to Avoid Them

When you love mushrooms as much as we do, you want to help others do the same. So when people say they don’t like mushrooms (gasp!) or don’t have good luck cooking them, we spring into action to help. Today, we’re performing a public service to help identify the biggest mistakes we notice — and (more importantly) how to avoid them. From the kitchen to the forest, we have tips to help you stay safe and make tasty meals featuring nature’s bounty.  

Let’s count them down. 

10. Washing mushrooms before storing them. 

You like to food prep when you come home from the market, so you give your produce — including mushrooms — a thorough wash before putting everything away. 

The mistake? Mushrooms are like sponges, so they’ll soak up all that water, which can make them spoil faster. 

The fix? Cultivated mushrooms usually only need a quick brush with a damp rag. If yours need a deeper clean, use a dry pastry brush to remove dirt and debris. Then give them a quick rinse and pat dry right before you are ready to cook them. 

9. Storing mushrooms all wrong.

You leave your mushrooms in the plastic-wrapped containers they came in — or you transfer them to a sealed jar. 

The mistake? Mushrooms need to breathe, and they prefer drier environments. Condensation can build up and make them spoil faster. 

The fix? Store mushrooms in a paper bag or loosely wrapped in a tea towel, so they can breathe. While a mushroom can’t handle being too wet, it can survive drying out a bit. If you’re not using your mushrooms the day you bring them home, check on them daily in the fridge, swapping their paper or towel as needed. 

8. Not washing wild mushrooms. 

Your mushrooms look clean, so you slice them up and add them to the pan, whether they came from the grocery store, the farmers’ market or the woods. 

The mistake? Wild mushrooms can be hiding little visitors — like insect eggs — along with dirt and debris. 

The fix? Give them a thorough once-over, using a brush, damp towel and even the sink sprayer to assist. 

7. Sticking to tried-and-true varieties. 

You buy mushrooms at the supermarket each week, usually brown or white buttons or sometimes shiitake. 

The mistake? Well, this isn’t really a “mistake.” You’re off to a great start, but there are so many other mushrooms out there. If you can find them and have room in your budget, try some other varieties. 

The fix? Look for Maitake, beech mushrooms, enoki and seasonal varieties like Chanterelles or Morels. Your taste buds will thank you. Find more mushroom recipes and cooking tips here

6. Crowding the pan. 

You want to draw out as much of the deep flavor from your fresh harvested Chanterelles as possible. You pull out your saute pan and add them to the pan. 

The mistake? You don’t give them enough space in the pan, so the mushrooms steam instead of getting a nice dark sear on them.

The fix? Work in batches, and leave at least a half inch between your ‘shrooms. Once they are all nicely browned, you can put them all in the pan together to finish your dish. 

5. Using too much oil. 

You left space in the pan but you’re not getting color. Instead, your mushrooms just seem, well, oily. 

The mistake? You added too much oil, so the porous mushrooms soaked it up instead of getting nicely browned. 

The fix? Start with a hot, dry pan. Once the mushrooms sizzle and their water evaporates, then you can add a bit of oil. Too much and they’ll get greasy! 

4. Rushing the process. 

You heated the pan, then added your mushrooms — and they still look raw and not very browned. You move on to the next step instead of waiting. 

The mistake? You didn’t wait long enough. Mushrooms, like onions and aromatics, need their time to concentrate their flavor. 

The fix? Be patient! Wait a few more minutes to coax out that richness. 

3. Keeping the heat too low. 

You don’t want to burn your mushrooms, so you keep the heat moderate — but they really taste bland. 

The mistake? You didn’t use enough heat. 

The fix? Heat your pan to medium to medium-high before adding your mushrooms. 

2. Expecting instant magic.* 

You started adding mushrooms to your daily routines and rituals and you’re really not feeling any mystery or magic.*

The mistake? Expecting Mother Nature to adhere to your schedule. 

The fix? In nature, things take the time they take. Always talk to your health care professional about any new supplement — but know that it can take time to notice anything.*

1. Not being 100% certain about a wild mushroom’s identity. 

You head out for a hike and you stumble upon a patch of Morels, Porcini or Lobster mushrooms. As a relatively new forager, you can’t believe your luck! You gather enough to prepare a tasty dinner tonight. 

The mistake? Not being 100% certain of your identification skills — and not consulting an expert source. 

The fix? Don’t ever guess or assume with mushrooms, as many edible species can have toxic look-alikes. Follow these springtime foraging tips and our simple rules for new foragers. 

Photo credit: Yuval Zuckerman

related articles

The 10 Biggest Mistakes People Make with Mushrooms and How to Avoid Them

Why is Turkey Tail One of the Most-Studied Mushrooms on the Planet?

Celebrate Mom with 12 Gift Ideas Inspired by Mother Nature Herself

13+ Creative & Tasty Ways to Eat More Mushrooms