Is canned air safe for use on food?
October 12, 2008 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Is it safe to clean the loose dirt off mushrooms using canned air? I came up with this idea the other night, and it works very well, but canned air is a different gas than compressed air.
posted by kalneva to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only danger with canned air, which is compressed teatrafluoroethane or difluoroethane, is inhalation causing oxygen deprivation (to get high) or turning the can upside down to turn it into a freeze-gun. You won't poison yourself.

You can just wash the mushrooms. They're already mostly water, so they don't absorb that much.
posted by stavrogin at 7:30 AM on October 12, 2008

People have been using water to wash off their mushrooms for thousands of years- what's the point of using compressed gas?
posted by dunkadunc at 7:41 AM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think you are too concerned about the dirt on your mushrooms. Most chefs recommend simply wiping down the mushrooms with a wet cloth as opposed to washing fully under water, as this will avoid them becoming soggy when cooked.
posted by scarello at 7:50 AM on October 12, 2008

Ooops, just read that link stavrogin posted. Maybe it's a myth after all....either way, lose the compressed air, its just silly.
posted by scarello at 7:52 AM on October 12, 2008

Best answer: My wife and I have been foraging for mushrooms for years, foraging on a muddy day often means you come home with equal quantities of mushroom and dirt. I've gone through a few cans of canned air cleaning mushrooms - aside from damaging the mushrooms and occasionally freezing a few of them, it works reasonably well. My crazy wife cleans them with a toothpick and damp paper towel. I use running water. Most chefs (actually their prep cooks) wash mushrooms - they may recommend using a wet cloth but almost nobody does that for any significant quantity.
posted by foodgeek at 7:54 AM on October 12, 2008

For what's it worth, unless they are truly muddy like a dog's paw, I brush off mushrooms with a nubby towel.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:06 AM on October 12, 2008

It's perfectly fine to wash mushrooms. They don't absorb a large amount of water. No need to spend money on those cans of air, or spend hours with a toothpick.
posted by borkencode at 9:18 AM on October 12, 2008

You're just replacing the dirt on the mushrooms with aerosol propellant, which is not food safe in any way. Canned air isn't air, it's propellant, which is some nasty checmical ending in -thane or -ethelene. It can kill you if breated in closed quarters (google huffing and canned air). I've seen a can of air that "spits" ruin photo negatives by etching them and similarly destroy the CCD in a camera.

If you have a regular air compressor that just shoots air, okay, but really use water.
posted by Ookseer at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2008

Alton Brown says it's OK to wash your mushrooms, scene 11 of this episode.

If it's OK for AB, I suspect it's OK for everyone else-- and cheaper than using canned air.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:27 PM on October 12, 2008

Some brands of canned air have bitterant added to prevent "huffing." I can tell you from (inadvertent) experience that food sprayed with such leaves a nasty taste in your mouth for hours.
posted by djb at 3:44 PM on October 12, 2008

You're just replacing the dirt on the mushrooms with aerosol propellant, which is not food safe in any way. Canned air isn't air, it's propellant, which is some nasty checmical ending in -thane or -ethelene.
posted by Ookseer at 3:09 PM on October 12 [+] [!]

The "propellant " is a gas. It's not "not food safe". A casual waving of your hands over the food will disperse it...

That being said, if what djb said is true, you should simply taste-check your can first - perhaps blowing it onto a piece of wax paper would do.

And the myth about washing mushrooms is indeed pure myth. They don't become soggy. They grow during rain storms, for chrissakes; do you ever see bloated, soggy mushrooms ballooning with water in the mornings? Of course not.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:54 PM on October 12, 2008

Hey foodgeek...I have picked mushroom with my dad since I was a kid. All he and my mom do is trim and soak the mushrooms before either cooking or freezing. Toothpicks and canned air seem a bit extreme, although if it works for ya, who am I to judge...
posted by scarello at 5:42 PM on October 13, 2008

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