Unitasker Wednesday: The mushroom brush

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Oh, mushroom brush, you have confused me for years:

How are you better at cleaning dirt off a mushroom than a simple kitchen sponge? (Are you really more advanced than a sponge that can also clean counter tops, dirty pans, and the crud off the front of my refrigerator? Are you superior to a sponge that can also be tossed into the dishwasher to be disinfected between uses?) Why do mushrooms deserve a special cleaning treatment, more so than potatoes, radishes, or other dirt-laden vegetables? You baffle me completely, mushroom brush!

Or wait, do I have it all wrong? Is this a brush to style a mushroom’s long, beautiful, locks of hair?

34 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: The mushroom brush”

  1. posted by nj progressive on

    For years the advice on cleaning mushrooms was clean them with a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush. Rinsing mushrooms off with water was a no-no, since mushrooms were like little sponges that would absorb water, making them soggy when sliced and eaten raw or diluting the flavor when cooked. Because I love mushrooms, raw and cooked, I took the advice seriously for years.

    Turns out the reasoning behind the advice was faulty. If you’ve got small white or cremini mushrooms that haven’t opened to expose the gills, getting them wet during cleaning won’t be a problem at all. So now when I have to clean a big batch of mushrooms, such as when I make my mushroom sauce for lasagne, I just put them in a big mesh colander and use the hand-held spray at my kitchen sink. Works great to get the clumps of soil-less mix off the ‘shrooms. When I clean just a few mushrooms, such as when I make balsamic chicken, I go back to the old way, and wipe each mushroom with a barely-damp paper towel to clean off the dirt.

    If I were using foraged mushrooms of any type or mushrooms with exposed gills such as portobellos or oyster mushrooms, I would use the damp paper towel routine.

  2. posted by nj progressive on

    PS Using a brush to scrub clean root or tuber vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams)is the way to go. But you’d need a tougher brush for those firm vegetables than you would for a mushroom. Hence the mushroom brush.

  3. posted by Marie on

    It LOOKS like a mushroom. Maybe that’s the point. You know, like a paddle brush is not actually intended to paddle anything.

  4. posted by Simpler Living on

    Erin, this question has probably been asked before, but are the makers of kitchen stuff the biggest contributors to household clutter? Seeing this post made me think of all of the other kitchen-related unitaskers you’ve highlighted. There seem to be loads of them.

    Some of the things that would be clutter to me aren’t to other people, of course. My French press is a unitasker, but I love it and use it regularly.

    Great feature, by the way. It always makes me laugh. More importantly, it makes me think twice before I buy something.

    Naomi

  5. posted by WilliamB on

    You can wash mushrooms without their sopping up water – just weigh some before after soaking in a bowl to see for yourself – but a veggie brush is still a good idea. Mushrooms aren’t water sponges but they are delicate. You can use the corner of a kitchen towel instead of a brush.

    I like using a veggie brush. It lets me wash my veggies, particularly root veggies, instead of peeling them. Not peeling means less work, less waste and more nutritious veggies.

    The problem is that hard veggies are best cleaned by a stiff brush, but that same brush will destroy the more delicate mushrooms. I haven’t gone so far as to get two separate brushes but this difference is why there are more than one type.

    Well… why there should be different types. But it’s quite possible that marketers are putting different labels on the same brushes in hopes we’ll buy more. I should find some and compare the bristles.

    PS – the dishwasher doesn’t do a very good job of disinfecting sponges. Both Cook’s Illustrated and Consumer Reports compared the common methods of soapy water, dishwasher, bleach, boil in water, microwave. Only boiling in water or microwaving did a good enough job. Just toss a sopping wet sponge in the microwave (or a pot of boiling water_) for 2-3 min and your sponge will be about as bacteria-free as when you first opened it.

  6. posted by ninjanun on

    I agree, sponges harbor bacteria and are too hard to disinfect. Disinfecting the sponge still doesn’t dry it, no matter what method you use; which leaves a nice warm, moist environment for more bacteria to grow the minute you swipe a counter or fork with it. My advice would be to use a kitchen washcloth to wipe your counters and hand-wash any dishes, and change it out everyday. And use a scrub brush or just your hands and running water to thoroughly scrub your veggies. That being said, I would not be opposed to owning the mushroom brush if I ate mushrooms in large quantities. The paper towel method is sufficient for me, however, and I just use vigorous scrubbing with my hands and running water for my veggies.

  7. posted by chacha1 on

    Oopsie. I have a mushroom brush *and* a root/tuber brush, and I use ‘em. But I never peel vegetables, so I don’t have a peeler (another unitasker). Or an apple corer. Or an orange juicer.

    @Simpler Living – there ARE a lot of kitchen unitaskers, aren’t there?!

  8. posted by bklynchic on

    yeah.. once again, i challenge the unitasker here. mushrooms need a softer brush than root vegetables. as long as you have a good organizer for your brushes by the sink, they don’t cause clutter. i love my new simplehuman one.

  9. posted by Luke @ simplifi.de on

    If your mushrooms have hair, your uncluttering problem is really in cleaning out your refrigerator! :-D

  10. posted by Kev on

    I figured it was a softer brush for a delicate mushroom, but I ALSO thought it was because mushrooms are grown in poo, and therefore we should have a dedicated brush so that we don’t spread poo to other foods.

    Having read the comments, I think I might be out of line with that analysis. But I’m not a big mushroom eater, so there you go.

  11. posted by Catie on

    LOL! Sorry that’s all I’ve got.. ;)

  12. posted by Erin Lazzaro on

    Dishwashers don’t sanitize. The water is not hot enough.

    With sponges and baby bottles, you probably don’t really need it…but if you “sanitize” your nebulizer mask in the dishwasher, you’re asking for trouble. If you’re supposed to boil it, you need to boil it.

  13. posted by Dad is in the House on

    It is cute you have to admit.

  14. posted by Darci on

    I have one of these little brushes and I use it ALL the time. It may be a unitasker, but it’s a teeny-tiny unitasker that fits nicely right next to my hard-bristled vegetable brush.

  15. posted by Joanne on

    I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I have two vegetable brushes that are indispensable. The mushroom brush is very effective for delicate tasks, including dirt stuck on celery ribs and peppers. The stiff brush is for tough skins such as potatoes, radishes, etc.
    I think sponges are inappropriate for cleaning off food, as you can never really get them clean. I use a sponge for scrubbing the sink with Comet,and that’s it.
    I don’t understand why anyone would use a paper towel to clean mushrooms. Why not a fresh dishcloth?

  16. posted by Noah on

    I just don’t eat mushrooms, but that’s because I hate the weird texture they always seem to have. Gross!

    I saw a bit Alton Brown did on TV once proving that mushrooms did not soak up water. He let them soak for varying amounts of time and then weighed them. None retained much, if any water.

  17. posted by SusanTheCat on

    I’m not sure I’d want to clean my vegetables with the same thing I clean my counters with …

    Susan

  18. Avatar of

    posted by Zora on

    Second here for dishcloths instead of sponges. Dishcloths scrub better, can be completely sanitized, last a lot longer, and are consequently cheaper.

    I couldn’t find dishcloths at any of the stores here, so I started knitting my own, out of cotton yarn. These are the BEST. Only take an hour to knit. I made a stack of them and gave them away as Christmas presents. I got some heartfelt thanks.

  19. posted by Corrie on

    Is there nobody else out there who cleans their mushrooms with a knife? I just run them under cold water and scrape them gently with a small knife, like a paring knife.

    I don’t like using brushes for cleaning vegetables because they seem like they are impossible to get clean and keep clean, so why would I want it touching something I am about to eat?

  20. posted by KateNonymous on

    I just read that a mushroom brush is ideal for helping to treat/prevent cradle cap in newborns. However, I can’t imagine that it would be a good idea to use the same brush on both mushroom and baby.

  21. posted by Shana on

    @Erin Lazzaro: then why do we use them? For that matter, why do we even bother with regular soap anymore? Let’s stop washing our hands except with antibacterial soap, spray everything in our houses with bleach, and wash all our clothes on hot with bleach, sending our health and planet down the toilet while we’re at it (toilet which we will then clean with the harshest chemicals possible, to nuke any possible germs back to the Stone Age).

    People are GERM CRAZY up in here. We, as a society, need to quit obsessing about “sanitary” this and “sanitized” that. It’s totally unnecessary.

    That said, kitchen sponges are disgusting. Yeah, you can kill the current germs, but their little germ corpses are still in the sponge for the next generation of germs to eat. Dishcloths, dishcloths, dishcloths.

  22. posted by Carrie B. on

    We use a toothbrush. It’s simple and it works for potato, mushrooms, carrot, anything. It’s not an “I just brushed my teeth with it” toothbrush, but one you can get at the dollar store in a multi pack. Voila. Clean veggies, easy to wash in the dishwasher or sanitize and super easy to store along with other utensils.

  23. posted by Erin Lazzaro on

    @Shana: Like I said: stuff that doesn’t need to be sanitized — baby bottles and sponges. And dishes. A dishwasher doesn’t sanitize; it washes.

    Nebulizer masks and breast pumps do need to be sanitized, and people do throw them in the dishwasher and think they’re OK.

  24. posted by Mardi on

    I don’t wash mushrooms; never have. And I use the same sponge for weeks on end. Those germs must be little cissies here in Australia cos I’ve made it through 42 years living with them!

  25. posted by Lilliane P on

    Mushroom brushes are classic in French cooking for the reasons stated above. I own one and have used one for years. They don’t tear the skins on the shrooms. That said, I like the toothbrush idea as well, and they come in varying degrees of softness. Using my mushroom brush on celery is a good idea.

  26. posted by Linda on

    I’m guessing a mushroom brush was invented for the same reason they invented tooth brushes: you do NOT want to brush your mushrooms or your teeth with a sponge that has previously cleaned your kitchen counter….. or so I may hope ;)

    Greetings from the netherlands!

  27. posted by Kalani on

    The idea of using your kitchen cleaning sponge for food does not appeal to me. And I remember the day I discovered how much BETTER a brush cleaned my pots and pans than a sponge… I bet it’s the same for vegetables. So I can see having a veggie brush. It would work for all the other vegetables as well.

  28. posted by chacha1 on

    @ Kalani, yes – I’ve been known to use my tuber brush to clean my cast-iron skillet. So hey! Not a unitasker! :-)

  29. posted by timgray on

    Mushrooms wont suck up water. I have soaked mushrooms for 3 hours and they weighed only slightly more than their dry weight. It’s a urban legend that you are not supposed to soak or get mushrooms wet. even alton brown has poo-pooed this myth.

    no matter the shroom, I wash them under running water.. gets them cleaner and no brush needed.

  30. posted by flightless on

    I can see where you wouldn’t want to wash DRIED mushrooms, but I always wash my white and portabello mushrooms and have never noticed a texture change. (I also scrub potatoes and carrots with the coarse nylon side of my kitchen sponge.)

  31. posted by Becky on

    I received my mushroom brush as a gift and I love it! Not too firm, not too soft, especially for creminis & portabellos.

    I’m fortunate to have a neighborhood farmer’s market that has a mushroom stand and they are super fresh, so I buy at least two varieties every week.

  32. posted by Darius on

    I use my mushroom brush regularly for the one task it is meant for. I also use my apple corer, and my cherry pitter and my grapefruit thingamajig…they are great tools for me. And yes, they are unitaskers. And I suppose I could use a damp paper towel and a knife and other things. But if I use them regularly, they can’t be so bad.
    Now buying a unitasker and using it once might be a crazy thing to do.

  33. posted by Lesley on

    I’m with Darius on this one. If I have a unitasker in the kitchen, but it’s something I use frequently, I’m OK with that.

    I’m a wife and mom of 2 who owns a business. I just don’t have time to make do with standard tools, if a specialized tool will work faster and better.

    It’s all a matter of priorities, just like everything else. I’m all for keeping life simple and uncluttered as possible, which is why I visit this blog. But on the unclutterer continuum, if the tiny house people are on the far left and the hoarders are on the far right, I’m just to the right of center. At this time in my life, an effective tool that I use frequently is worth a few bucks and some space in a drawer.

    Still love reading the comments on both sides, though! So many good ideas here!

  34. posted by Onepot on

    Try washing mushrooms. Really.

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