Why do mushrooms smell like fish?

In this brief discussion, we’ll answer the question, “Why do mushrooms smell like fish?” We will also talk about if fresh mushrooms smell like fish and what type of mushrooms develop a fishy smell more quickly.

Why do mushrooms smell like fish?

Mushrooms smell like fish when they’ve gone bad. When the food is spoiled, it often takes up a fishy aroma. This is more common in meat products but it can also happen with some vegetables and mushrooms are one of them.

Mushrooms contain a lot of mixtures which means they attract a lot of bacteria as well. When a large number of bacteria set up camp on the surface of foods such as mushrooms, it begins to smell like fish.

Do fresh mushrooms smell like fish?

Yes, there are some species of mushrooms that smell like fish even when they’re fresh. One of these mushrooms is lactifluus volemus, also known as fishy milkcap. The fishy smell in such mushrooms often fades away when they are cooked. 

If you find the fishy smell of mushrooms objectionable, you should steer clear of latifluus volemus, russula foetens and phallus impudicus.

Mushrooms are very likely to smell like fish if they are stored next to fish or a seafood product. Therefore, you should keep mushrooms away from fish if you don’t want them to smell like fish.

Can I use mushrooms if they smell like fish?

No, it is not recommended to use mushrooms if they smell like fish mostly because they have probably gone bad. Cooking or eating spoiled mushrooms can spoil your food and can make you seriously sick. 

Spoilt food is the harbour of harmful bacteria that can cause serious foodborne illnesses. Therefore, it is probably best to sniff the mushrooms before using them in any way. This is important to ensure your health and well-being.

How can I tell that the mushrooms smell fishy because they’re spoiled?

Other than the fishy smell of the mushrooms, there are various signs that can help you confirm if the mushrooms have gone bad. Some of these signs are discussed below:

The mushrooms have a slimy texture

If the mushrooms appear to be slimy, they are probably no longer safe to consume. The slime on the surface of mushrooms indicated the presence of bacteria. You can probably salvage such mushrooms by washing and drying them out. 

However, if they are too slippery to even hold, they should be discarded since they can cause serious health issues if consumed. If you notice slime on the mushrooms, it is probably best to throw them away instead of salvaging to ensure your health and safety.

The mushrooms have a wrinkly appearance

If your mushrooms have a wrinkly appearance, they should be discarded. Mushrooms contain a lot of moisture and they dehydrate as they start to age. As a result, they lose their plump appearance and have a shrivelled and wrinkly texture.

The mushrooms have turned darker in colour

When mushrooms start to age, they develop dark spots over them which eventually take up all the space on mushrooms. This is more noticeable in mushrooms which are light in colour. However, this can also happen in darker varieties of mushrooms such as dark portobellos and baby Bellas.

The mushrooms have become spongy

If the mushrooms feel spongy or squishy to touch, they are no longer safe to eat and should be thrown away. When mushrooms are fresh, they feel firm to touch. As they begin to age or become spoiled, they become squishy, spongy or hallowed out from the inside.

There are patches of mould on the mushrooms

If you notice any patches of mould on the mushroom, they have gone bad and should be discarded. When mushrooms are spoiled, they begin to have patches of mould on their surface. Such patches of mould can be fuzzy green, blue or yellow in colour.

What type of mushrooms develop a fishy smell more quickly?

Mushrooms that are thin or delicate are more likely to develop a fishy odour. Thin mushrooms have less flesh and do not lose much moisture. This is why they are able to harbour more bad bacteria and get spoiled easily, developing a fishy odour. 

For example, enoki mushrooms can get spoiled pretty quickly because of their thin strands. On the other hand, denser mushrooms are more likely to last longer. Other than this, the storage conditions of mushrooms also affect their ability to develop a fishy smell.

Therefore, it is best to store the mushrooms properly and buy whole mushrooms instead of pre-sliced ones if you want to prevent them from becoming fishy.


We answered the question, “Why do mushrooms smell like fish?” We also talked about if fresh mushrooms smell like fish and what type of mushrooms develop a fishy smell more quickly.