The Hilarious Way Alton Brown Just Busted This Common Mushroom Myth

Alton Brown has been sharing culinary tips, techniques, and food science for years as the host of Food Network's Good Eats. In his most recent reveal, he just busted one of the biggest myths in mushroom-land via Twitter, and the internet can't stop talking about it. "Culinary truth: you can actually wash mushrooms without creating a blackhole that will swallow EVERYTHING," he tweeted. Brown is referring to a long-held belief by many that you can't wash mushrooms. This myth, however, is outdated and generally untrue.

In 1937 the famed French cookbook Larousse Gastronomique featured advice by author Prosper Montagné that cautioned about rinsing cultivated mushrooms in order to not lessen the natural flavors, reports HuffPost. The logic used was the concept that mushrooms are porous, and extra water would dilute the flavor. As an alternative, cooks over the ages have recommended brushing mushrooms, simply eating the dirt, or even peeling the external layer off your fungi. If you're like us, all of these alternatives sound either a) tedious or b) crunchy.

The thing is, the umami flavor we love is derived from a substance called glutamate, and glutamate is stored inside the mushroom cell walls — so you can't rinse it out.

Why you should wash your mushrooms

The most definitive debunking of the mushroom myth can be attributed to the 1990 volume of The Curious Cook by Harold McGee in which he performs an experiment (via HuffPost). McGee weighed a pile of mushrooms, soaked them for five minutes, and weighed them again. The mushrooms only gained about 1/16 of a teaspoon of water, showing that a mushroom is not actually a sponge, and alleviating flavor concerns everywhere. Unfortunately the "washing myth" still persists today.

As one social media user added to Alton Brown's Twitter conversation, "This is true! You don't want them to soak but a quick dunk/rinse adds negligible moisture." Another reader jests, however, "But is there a way to wash them WITH creating said Black Hole? Because... Delicious Everything Flavored Mushroom..."

If you'd like to know the best way to wash your mushrooms, try placing them in a salad spinner (via Cooks's Illustrated). Add water and scrub 'til the dirt is gone, then rinse. Use the spinner to remove any excess water.

And if you still really don't feel comfortable washing mushrooms, another Twitter user reminds us the value of DIY, "Non issue when you grow your own and go straight from substrate to plate."