Is It Dangerous To Eat The Gills On Portobello Mushrooms?

If you're looking to make a vegetarian or vegan-friendly burger, you might turn to portobello mushrooms. Not only are portobellos quite large, but they're also one of the easiest mushrooms to grill and have a meaty texture that makes them the perfect alternative burger patty. After all, portobello mushroom burgers are not only easy but help you consume more vegetables — a win-win, if you ask us.

Regardless of how you want to enjoy a portobello mushroom, one potential turn-off is its gills. The underside of a portobello's cap is packed with dark brown gills, but if you order a portobello at a restaurant, the gills may have been removed. Why? Is this part of the mushroom dangerous? Can eating the gills make you sick?

While there are several reasons to remove the gills from a portobello mushroom before cooking, these are more for personal preference. The entirety of the portobello is safe to consume, says Foodies Family, and most recipes don't require you to remove the gills. So where does this suspicion of the portobello's gills come from? 

Reasons to remove the gills from a portobello mushroom

Whether or not you remove the gills from your portobellos ultimately comes down to appearance and taste. According to Life Hacker, leaving the gills in place can make a dish look "dark and murky," so if you want a dish to keep its light and bright colors, you might consider removing the gills. The portobello's gills can also affect the taste of a dish. Fine Cooking, for example, recommends removing the gills because they have a bitter flavor that can mask other, potentially nicer flavors in your dish.

Fortunately, mushroom gills are fairly easy to remove. In fact, you can remove the gills in chunks simply by scraping at them with the tip of a spoon. This leaves your mushroom caps gill-free, tasty, and ready to be cleaned for grilling, stuffing, or whatever else you plan to do with your portobellos. Even better, Serious Eats says that, because gills are usually the first part of the mushroom to go bad, removing them before storing them can make your mushrooms last longer, too. (Still, always check if your mushrooms have gone bad before consuming them.)