You've Been Salting Mushrooms All Wrong

Mushrooms have a lot of upsides. They can add delicious umami flavor to any number of dishes. They're low in calories while having no fat or cholesterol. Mushrooms also are densely packed with nutrients like B vitamins, copper, potassium, and antioxidants, according to Healthline. Still, maybe you find the texture of these fungi to be off-putting. If that's been your experience, there's a chance you've been salting mushrooms wrong this whole time.

When cooking mushrooms, or any ingredient that contains a lot of water for that matter, Allrecipes warns that adding salt too early can draw out all that moisture and leave you with a dry, rubbery texture. To avoid this, sauté your mushrooms in fat and herbs, and leave the salt off until the very last minute. Add salt right before you take the mushrooms off the heat. This will allow them to brown well and keep their moisture. Sounds reasonable, but is it correct? 

Proof that you should wait before adding salt to your mushrooms

Does it matter when you add salt to your mushrooms? To find out, two editors from Epicurious sautéed the same varieties of mushrooms at the same temperature, with the same type of pan, in the same amount of vegetable oil. With all of these variables under control, one experimenter salted his mushrooms right away, while the other waited until the mushrooms were just about fully cooked. The results seemed to surprise the two editors: The mushrooms that had been salted right away didn't reduce as much as the ones salted at the end, even though they took three more minutes to fully cook. The mushrooms salted early were also tougher and had a weaker flavor than the mushrooms that got their salt late. 

The reason for this difference, according to Bon Appétit, is that the water released by salting early ends up steaming the mushrooms, which makes them rubbery. If you've been sautéing mushrooms wrong this whole time, impress your loved ones the next time the fungi are on your menu by holding off on that salt until the mushrooms are cooked.