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A few times in the past week, I've cut up a few mushrooms (I'm pretty sure they're button) and sauteed or fried them with a few other ingredients for dinner. I absolutely love the taste and the texture, but they seem to give a dull grey tint to anything in the pan with them. This was most obvious when I cooked them with tofu and eggs.

How can I stop this from happening? I've heard that acids can stop discoloration, but I mostly heard that in the context of oxidation of fruits. I also thought of sauteing the mushrooms separately and combining everything at the end, but I'd like to avoid additional cooking time and dishes used.

Is there anything that I can do to stop this discoloration?

  • Are you cooking your mushrooms before you add everything else to the pan, or cooking everything together? – logophobe Jun 26 '14 at 15:01
  • I'm adding the mushrooms near the end of cooking, because they seem to cook much faster than everything else. – Tablesalt Jun 26 '14 at 15:41
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Based on comments, the likely culprit is moisture cooking out of the mushrooms and into your other ingredients. Mushrooms contain a surprising amount of liquid, and when cooking them you'll see that they shrink down significantly due to moisture loss. If you're adding them to other ingredients, some of the resulting liquid is hanging around in the pan long enough to discolor other, lightly colored items like eggs or tofu.

What I would suggest is sauteeing your mushrooms by themselves for at least a couple minutes, to release their moisture prior to adding everything else. Here's a good step-by-step guide. Be sure you salt them to draw out moisture, and make sure that you don't crowd the pan (see this question) so that the moisture can cook off effectively. Both eggs and tofu should cook fairly quickly, so you can add them after the first couple minutes and the mushrooms can continue to brown and cook afterwards. If you have other ingredients that need to cook for an extended amount of time, you may want to cook your mushrooms separately if the color bothers you. If you're using a separate pan, this won't really add additional time, but you will have extra cleaning to do.

Mushrooms are funky that way - common sense might indicate that they be cooked like vegetables, but there's a reason why Alton Brown suggests treating them like meat instead.

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If you aren't short on mushrooms, try cutting the gills out or even using only the top part above the gills... most of what is causing the discoloration is in the gill parts. Alternatively, you might want to try other types of mushroom that just does not come with dark gills/spores... oyster or shiitake for example.

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