How To Store Mushrooms: Barbara’s Guide For Saving Food

Are you a mushrooms lover like me? Then you'll need to know how to store mushrooms properly so you can enjoy their earthy taste whenever you desire!

Most of us have busy lives, so shopping for groceries in advance is the only solution. It's easier to plan your cooking, for a week usually, but sticking to that plan can be pretty tough!

Lack of time and children's picky bellies are the enemies of my cooking schedule. I like to indulge my family so I often buy a lot of stuff when I’m in the supermarket, and that results in the refrigerator being full of forgotten groceries.

The problem is with vegetables and other food that have a short shelf life. My favorite delicate veggies are mushrooms. It's such a shame when I find my forgotten mushrooms wanting to put them in good use, and discover that they are spongy or slimy.

That situation has happened to me more than I like to admit, so I put a lot of effort to learn to prevent that. Today I would like to share my knowledge on how to store mushrooms!

How to pick right mushrooms

If you are not sure that you will use your mushrooms in several hours, you'll need to be careful when you buy them. They have high water content and delicate tissue so without proper storage, mushrooms will spoil quickly.

For that woodsy aroma, we all adore, choose free-range mushrooms over packed ones whenever you can. I prefer those because I can actually see what I'm buying.

This shopping technique acquires all your senses!

First, you need to inspect the mushrooms with your eyes - you want stainless skin without any discoloration. Avoid wrinkly or dry ones, be sure that caps are securely attached to stems.

The second indicator of freshness is fragrance - You know that beautiful smell in woods after autumn rain? Yes, that is the smell you want for your mushrooms, sweet and earthy! Don't pick ones with a sour or musty smell.

The main reason I like loose ones it's because I can hand-pick them! This way I can be sure they are firm and cold when you touch them. Avoid spongy, wrinkle or musty ones!

For prepacked mushrooms, you can't use your nose and hands to indicate freshness - look closely for any spots and wrinkles!


How to clean mushrooms

Imagine you spent a significant amount of time to pick just right mushrooms and the last thing you want is to have them perish quickly! Don't make a beginner’s mistake - don't wash them!

If you are concerned about foodborne illness, you can wash the mushrooms before you prepare them and only as a whole. When you wash cut mushrooms, their tender inner tissue absorbs water and becomes soggy.

The best way to clean mushrooms before storage is with a brush. A soft-bristled brush is gently for mushrooms and can wipe out most of the dirt! You can use a paper towel too, but with a brush, you can clean more hard-to-reach places.

The only exception of no washing rule are the morels - due to their texture, wiping out the dirt is not enough. For these ornate mushrooms, the best way of cleaning is to soak them in the water shortly - doing this will loosen any grit, dirt, and bugs.

When you soak morels, soak them entirely or cut them lengthwise for 15 minutes in the cold, lightly salted water. Drain them and soak them again if needed, then rinse them with cold tap water.

To dry them, you can use a paper towel and gently pat them to absorb the excess water. Even better is to give morels a whirl in a salad spinner if you have one at hand.

You don't need to clean prepacked mushrooms, the best way is to leave them in their original package.


How to store mushrooms - tested and proven techniques!

No matter what is your choice, packed or loose ones, all mushrooms need proper storage techniques. With delicate food such as mushrooms, you should be careful - if you don't use them quickly they will not only lose that earthy taste and texture, they will become a severe health hazard.

Proper storing can help you be safe, and it can prolong the shelf life of mushrooms. These techniques can help you with that!

1. Paper bags

Paper bags, contrary to the myth, are not the best way to store mushrooms. Mushrooms emit ethylene gas when they are picked, so they need to breathe.

Most of us seal the top of a bag tightly, so ethylene stays trapped around mushrooms and make them spongy. When storing mushrooms in paper bags, you'll need to poke holes on three sides to expel the gas.

Ethylene gas is slightly lighter than air, so poking holes and folding the opening loosely will help ethylene to expel.

Storing mushrooms in paper bags - directions:

  1. Place the cleaned (if you washed them, be sure they are thoroughly dry) mushrooms in a paper bag with holes.
  2. Close the opening by folding edges loosely.
  3. Put the paper bag into the crisper drawers of the fridge for best results.

2. Perforated bowls

Besides having to breathe, mushrooms need to retain moisture - but not too much, or they will be slimy. Storing them in perforated bowls made from ceramic, glass or stone is the best way!

Perforation allows airflow and materials like ceramic, glass or stone help with the right amount of moist.

Storing mushrooms in perforated bowls - directions:

  1. Clean, and if needed, dry the mushrooms
  2. Wrap the mushrooms gently in a paper towel - if your towels get wet you need to dry mushrooms more
  3. Place wrapped mushrooms in a perforated bowl
  4. Cover the bowl with an additional paper towel
  5. Place it in the fridge

3. The freezing method

If you will not use the mushrooms within a week or so, the best way of preserving them is freezing. Keeping mushrooms in the freezer will extend the time for which they can be used up to months, but you will need to make a compromise.

Freezing fresh mushrooms will change their color and texture, resulting in darker, softer and spongy mushrooms.

If you want to freeze mushrooms, you'll need to sauté them first!

Freezing mushrooms - directions:

  1. Wash the mushrooms and dry them in the open air. Spread them on a paper towel to catch excess water
  2. Slice mushrooms into small slices, you can use an egg slicer if you want them to be identical
  3. Sauté mushrooms in warmed olive oil with salt and pepper for taste
  4. After they are cooked, spread them on a baking sheet in one layer and let them cool
  5. When mushrooms are cooled down, put them in zip-lock bags and put them in the freezer

Mushrooms stored in the refrigerator have the shelf life up to two weeks, and ones in the freezer up to a year.

Prepacked mushrooms should be stored in their original package. Those are usually containers in which they already have holes, which help with the airflow.

After you open them and take the desired amount, wrap the remaining mushrooms with plastic wrap without taking them from the original container.

Important tip: Never store mushrooms in airtight containers, lack of air circulations will cause fast spoilage.

More ideas for storing mushrooms

  • Drying mushrooms is an excellent way of preserving them, especially if you bought a large amount of fungus.
  • If you want to dry mushrooms in the oven, merely distribute them (washed and dried) onto the baking sheet, place them in the oven and turn it on the lowest setting.
  • Read the instructions carefully if you choose a dehydrator. If you don't have a food dehydrator, you can marinate them!

Learn More: How to store peppers and enjoy your favorite veggies all year round

Final Thoughts

I hope that my advice will motivate you to include 'forest meat' in your diet more! Mushrooms are rich in protein and antioxidants and can also help with diabetes.

Now you know how to store mushrooms and how to get the best out of them to benefit and not harm your health! Follow my guide precisely, and I guarantee you can safely enjoy your fungus every time you want sweet and earthy aromas!

If you have additional questions not hesitate to ask! And if you have some exciting recipes, please share! 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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