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I've peeled my button mushrooms since cooking with a friend once, who did it, but I've never understood why, if at all, it's advisable.

Searching shows a fairly wide range of opinions but I see no reason attached to either side.

Is it purely aesthetic?

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    I don't peel mine, I brush them. From what I remember, most of the nutrients are in the skin. In Australia at least, Australian Mushroom Growers Association recommend not to: powerofmushrooms.com.au/health-nutrition/health-nutrition/… "If there is some residual compost still on the mushroom when you buy them, just brush it off. [ ... ] There is no need to peel mushrooms either; they can be consumed as purchased." – Ming Dec 24 '14 at 7:52
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The only motivation I'm aware of for peeling button mushrooms other than wanting a very clean, white appearance is to remove dirt, dust, grit, compost, etc. from the surface without the trouble of brushing or washing. It's arguably quicker to peel mushrooms than to brush them (though not in my experience) and many people don't like washing them because they absorb a little bit of the water, which is counter-productive when e.g. sauteing. However, peeling them means you are wasting some of your ingredients, and even a very dirty button mushroom is trivial to clean by washing or brushing.

I rarely find it necessary to clean supermarket mushrooms at all as they tend to be very clean on the shelf. If they're dusty, a gentle pat with a clean, damp sponge does the trick. I would advise against peeling unless you're going for a specific visual presentation that requires it.

See also: How to clean mushrooms?

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    The old wives' tale that washing mushrooms adds water and prevents a good saute is complete nonsense. Unlike vegetables, mushroom cell walls are made of chitin, which will remain stiff in boiling water, so you could put mushrooms in a pot with a gallon of water, and they would stay crisp until all the water boiled away, then saute perfectly. – Lee Daniel Crocker Aug 14 '18 at 23:56
  • The subject of washing mushrooms in water is very thoroughly addressed in the linked Q&A. – Air Aug 20 '18 at 18:31
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I don't peel mine, or didn't until I found a "working woman" cookbook which used the stems & peels to make mushroom stock for soup the day after making grilled mushrooms. Aside from doing that, I've never done it. You need to be doing a lot of mushrooms to make this cost effective and I don't think mushrooms freeze well, so that's out.

It's my understanding that peeling mushrooms is like washing meat, advice previously given as a default and no longer viewd that way. Washing meat is considered dangerous now. I think that the mushroom thing is optional at this point, mostly I do NOT, unless I plan to make soup the next day!

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    ..I have a ziplock bag in my freezer for stock ingredients.. my mushroom stalks get thrown in there until the time comes. – Robin Betts Aug 15 '18 at 10:21
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I only peel my wild mushrooms if they say to peel them in the field guide, otherwise I leave them as is.

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I always peel my mushrooms if purchased from the bulk department. Just watch the other store patrons sneeze,cough, hack over the produce and you will become a peeler too.

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Argument against one of the comments above: mushrooms can freeze well depending on the use afterwards. I wouldn't slice and freeze them to sauté later, they'd be mushy. However, I always cook with peeled caps, and save both stems and peels in the freezer to make broth later. They'll stay in the freezer for a long time and if they're just getting boiled and reduced down you don't need to worry about their texture.

I peel them specifically to build up my "stockpile" though. All the parts, cap, skin and stem, are good for cooking up. I just hate the idea of wasting caps in broth, so I set aside the not-as-desirable parts for that. I can cook a dish with just caps, but not with just stems and/or skins.

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    Welcome! I'm sorry to say it but we have a strict policy that questions need to answer the main question - in this case "why should or shouldn't I peel mushrooms?" Answers that are responses to other answers or comments are likely to be deleted. Please consider editing your question to focus on answering the primary question. – Catija Nov 26 '17 at 6:18
  • I think we can keep this answer because it is also usable without knowing what the other answer said - it gives suggestions when to peel and when to not peel. In general, what Catija said is right, but it seems we can make the exception this time. – rumtscho Nov 26 '17 at 14:33
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My mother is from England, growing up they used to forage for mushrooms. She was told to always peel them. I found on line the probable reason; there is a folklore that if you could peel the cap - it wasn't poisonous. BUT that is a myth! She still wants me to peel mushrooms, but since any mushrooms I use come from the supermarket :) , I decline, and she oftens picks them out of salads. If the mushrooms are cooked I can usually sneak them by her. She is now 97

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I peel mine, just the 1st outer layer as my mother did. Mushrooms grow in mold or manure so I really think one should peel and rinse them. I can't imagine wanting to eat mold or manure for health reasons

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    Welcome to the site, Eudice. But please do not repeat answers that are already there - on a 4 year old question ;-) – Jan Doggen Sep 29 '18 at 18:44
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I work in a research lab as an undergraduate and our postdoc fellow has us peel mushrooms before we feed them to the flies. Apparently the skins can host nematodes, tiny roundworms, which can be bad for the flies. That’s why I peel my mushrooms now

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