Why You Should Be Scoring The Caps Of Portobello Mushrooms

Whatever your motivation may be for eating less meat, there's no time to start like the present, and there's almost no better meat substitute out there than mushrooms. Real Simple states that their meaty texture and savory, earthy flavors make mushrooms like crimini and portobello (which are technically the same fungus) great substitutes for those introducing more vegetarian options to their diet. In fact, studies have shown that having meat alternatives and the proper prep skills can help folks stick to a change in their diet.

Portobellos are a great place to start introducing mushrooms into your diet. Masterclass points out that their size makes them an easy substitute for steaks and burgers. To pick out a good portobello at the store, Serious Eats recommends picking loose ones rather than going for prepackaged options. This lets you inspect the mushroom and ensures that it has a firm surface and a fairly dry underside.

Once you get your mushrooms home, one of the first things you'll need to do is remove their stem. According to America's Test Kitchen, these stems can be quite woody and fibrous and are best avoided. From there simply take a spoon, and scrape out the gills underneath the cap. While Foodies Family states that these gills aren't bad for you, they do have an unpleasant taste and texture.

Scoring helps shed excess water

Now that you're left with only the best parts of the portobello cap, you might want to clean it. There might be bits of what appears to be dirt on the top of your mushroom. Real Simple states that this isn't really dirt but remnants of the harmless peat moss that the mushroom was grown in. It can be easily wiped off with a wet towel, though, or rinsed off under a gentle stream of tap water.

An unconventional tip from Serious Eats is to lightly score the surface of your portobello cap with a paring knife. Because mushrooms have a high water content, it will help that water to release steam while the mushroom cooks. Those cuts will also help the mushroom absorb the flavor or any marinades or sauces more easily as well. Mushroom caps are already porous. In fact, their porous skin structure has been exploited to help make batteries, according to Yale Scientific. These extra scores will help move things along while also shortening the cooking time and preventing the caps from becoming misshapen while they cook.

Now you're ready to cook your portobellos any way you'd like. Just be sure to follow Julia Child's sage advice and don't crowd your mushrooms too close together. That extra steam will cause them to cook in a sauna instead of a dry heat and prevent caramelization and flavors from developing.