There must be half a dozen ways to clean mushrooms – brushing off the dirt with a dry brush, wiping them with a damp towel, rinsing them in water, peeling them, and probably a few more.
Oh, yes – peeling them. I love this trick. It’s terribly time consuming, but incredibly satisfying. You get a clean surface and no additional dampness (though apparently dampness doesn’t matter for your result, just your processing aesthetic). It appeals to my cooking rhythm. You pop off the stem, and then just pinch under the cap and peel back delightful curls of the outer layer.
Another benefit of such ridiculously time consuming a method is that it really helps get your priorities in order. There are few cooking things as divisive as how to clean mushrooms, and it can be painful to watch someone try to help with a different method from the one you prefer.
Having someone help you clean mushrooms requires taking a breath and realizing that the mushrooms will get clean at the end, and you have to let the person helping you do so in her own way. And that’s one of the skills that has made a huge difference in my life.
note: I didn’t learn this skill on my own. It was taught to me by a lovely biologist in Baltimore who used to host dinner parties.