Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mushroom Hunter's Tools: Cosmetic Brush

The Mushroom Hunter's Tools segment explores some common (and not so common) tools of the hobby. This week well brush up on a common tool used for cleaning.

When picking wild mushrooms for the table, the MH will often encounter all kinds of dirt and debris speckling their fungal finds. Of course, this debris will have to be removed before the mushrooms are prepared and cooked! But how? Many people unfamiliar with the handling of our often delicate friends may simply pick or rub this "dirt" off - that is if they don't simply dunk the whole thing in water.* (Not recommended btw . . .) However, as the MH is sure to know, some species are very delicate, making them difficult to clean without damaging them.

Enter the cosmetic brush! This tool excels at removing bits of debris from stalks, caps, and especially gills. Not convinced (or too manly) to purchase a cosmetic brush for your mushroom hunting tool kit? Here are some reasons why you should:

  • Unlike a cloth (or your finger) a brush will not apply as much direct pressure to the body of the mushroom. This will result in less bruised or broken pieces and more mushrooms for the table.
  • The individual bristles on the brush will get into cracks, folds, and gills much better than the surface of the cloth. This will often aleviate the need for running water to be used when cleaning the mushroom.
  • If you purchase a retractable cosmetic brush (like those pictured above) it can be easily stored and carried with you on the hunt.
The best part about having a brush with you on a hunt is that you will have an opportunity to partially clean the mushrooms before they hit the chopping block at home. As you pick each specimen, lightly clean them before placing it into your basket. This could potentially save you hours of work if you are lucky enough to get a big haul.