Contrary to what people may have thought about eating mushrooms back in the day, this food source has become quite a popular choice for food lovers and others worldwide. Starting from pizza toppings to Thai soups, mushrooms are an essential part of many delectable dishes.
Apart from being packed with nutritional value, mushrooms taste heavenly and chefs from all over the world have used this fungi to create some of the most delicious dishes ever made. However, most often than not, mushrooms tend to go bad real quick, say within a week or two.
In our attempt to help you solve this problem, we have listed down ways on how to store mushrooms properly. Furthermore, we hope our thorough guide will help you to understand what you may have been doing wrong while handling mushrooms.
So, first things first, you must know what are the conditions that are best suited for storing mushrooms. 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degree Celsius is considered to be the best temperature for storing mushrooms. Drastic low temperatures will damage mushrooms on the whole and higher temperatures may speed up the decay process.
Also, mushrooms tend to absorb a lot of moisture which results in them becoming soggy and slimy, hence, avoid storing them in places with high humidity. Even storing them in room temperature can often prove to be risky as they, in general, go bad. To sum it up, mushrooms need cool conditions with low levels of moisture in the surroundings.
It is also important to know the lifespan of different types of mushrooms. If you happen to be a spontaneous shopper and often end up buying too many of one single item from the grocery store, then this information might be of great help to you.
So if you have a whole lot of mushrooms stored at home, know that fresh, cut mushrooms expire within 5-7 days when stored in the refrigerator. Cooked mushrooms last a longer while, from about 7-10 days approximately. On the other hand, dried mushrooms can last for a huge span of 2-3 years.
However, the methods listed below are some of the ways that you can follow to store mushrooms at home.
Making Use of the Original Packaging
If you do not have to make use of your mushrooms right away, you can most definitely put the original packaging to use for the storage of your mushrooms. The original cardboard-plastic packaging is fit for storing your mushrooms since the plastic wraps tend to have pre-made holes which stop moisture from getting trapped within the packaging and making the mushrooms soggy and moist.
You also do not have to worry about your mushrooms drying out if you plan on using this method. Feel free to make holes in the wrapping material if you think it does not have any. Then pop the mushrooms into the refrigerator for the cold temperatures, which will encourage the mushrooms to stay fresh for at least a week or so.
If your idea is to use only a couple of mushrooms for the time being and to store the rest for later, then keep the real packaging in which the mushrooms came in from the store. Instead of ripping the whole package, make a whole big enough to take the mushrooms out. Then reseal that area using more plastic wrap and just like before, store it in the refrigerator for later use.
However, if you have already discarded the package in which you bought the mushrooms, there is a good news for you! You can store the mushrooms in boxes or bowls you already have at home. But how?
Just take a box or bowl big enough to fit the mushrooms and put them in it spaciously. Then using a cling wrap, seal the top of the box/bowl where the lid would have been. Make tiny holes in the cling wrap using a fork or toothpick. This will allow for the moisture to escape and the mushrooms will decay at a much slower rate.
The Paper Bag Trick
The paper bag trick is widely used by homemakers who are determined to keep their mushrooms fresh for about a week or sometimes, for even a matter of ten days at best! Brown bags are known to soak up extra moisture which means storing mushrooms in them will prevent them from becoming soggy. Pick a paper bag of an appropriate size (a lunch bag works too) from your nearby general store and dump the mushrooms in it without washing them.
We recommend leaving the bags open which will allow proper ventilation to occur but if you wish, you can fold up the top as well. Make sure to put this bag in the refrigerator right away but then again in one of the crisper drawers, which due to their unique design, help to prevent mushrooms from soaking up the smell from other foods and keeps them fresh for a longer period of time.
Freezing the Mushrooms
Freezing mushrooms is quite a rare method used to store the mushrooms. It is to be honest, a lengthy process but is definitely worth a try. This method will certainly come in handy if you wish to preserve the mushrooms for more than a week.
At first, give the mushrooms a good wash and air-dry them, either placing them in a strainer or on paper towels. Use a mushroom brush or paper towels to get rid of any excess dust or dirt and afterward, slice the mushrooms up into the size of your personal preference.
Now a key part of this process is to make sure that before the mushrooms are put in the freezer, they are cooked. Some simply like to sauté the mushrooms using salt-pepper-oil but each chef has his/her own preference so feel free to add any extra flavor that you think may bring out more flavors from the mushrooms.
Once cooked, let the mushrooms cool on a cookie sheet. Later when they have completely cooled down, dump the contents of the cookie sheet in a zip-lock bag and place them in the freezer.
If you are wondering why the mushrooms have to be cooked beforehand, it is because cooking stops the actions of the enzymes in mushrooms which helps in preserving them and also later when you leave them out to thaw, the mushrooms will not soak in much moisture from the surroundings.
Many people doubt whether freezing the mushrooms will have an effect on their taste but there is nothing to worry about since freezing them will not alter the taste of the mushrooms.
Blanching and Freezing Mushrooms
This method is eerily similar to the process mentioned above but it comes with a slight little twist. The first step involves cleaning and chopping up the mushrooms. Just like before, dry the mushrooms for a while and then for a minute or two, put them in hot, boiling water. Place the blanched mushrooms in a sieve or any other container and immediately put them in cold water. This will halt the cooking process and later when you drain the mushrooms off any water, they can be stored in a box and popped in the freezer for preserving them effectively.
If you are unsure about all the methods that have been listed above, drying the mushrooms may be your only solution. All you have to do is dehydrate the mushrooms using a food dehydrator or a low-temp oven which will suck out any moisture from the mushrooms.
These dried mushrooms can then be easily stored in pantries but if you are worried how drying will affect the mushrooms, be rest assured that nothing of such sort is going to happen. Dried mushrooms can easily be rehydrated and can be stored in air-tight containers as per your convenience.
Classic Zip-Lock Bags
This is an alternative to using paper bags or the original packaging. The plastic zip-lock bags help to maintain a constant moisture level when kept partially open. Thus using this may be a wise choice. The semi-open bag will ensure that the moisture from the mushrooms is being effectively seized to keep them fresh for later use. But beware if in any case the bag gets locked completely, it will not be long before the mushrooms start to go bad.
Avoid Buying Packaged Mushrooms
Even though we did mention how to store pre-packed mushrooms properly, it is never a bad decision to hand-pick mushrooms yourself. In that case, you can avoid buying mushrooms that are sure to deteriorate faster than others because, with pre-packaged mushrooms, you can never be sure of the quality of the mushrooms that you are buying. They may appear all shiny and fresh on top but can always contain a couple of bad ones deeper inside the packets.
They may also be slimy to the touch which you will never know, unlike loose mushrooms. Hence, we suggest you hand-pick your own mushrooms for your own benefit. Also, while buying loose mushrooms, you will not have to worry about storing extra ones because you will have already purchased the right amount to be used for dinner.
Avoid Buying Sliced Mushrooms
Many may not know this, but sliced mushrooms decay faster than intact mushrooms. If you plan to make use of the sliced mushrooms immediately, then go ahead and buy them. But if you expect to store the mushrooms somewhere in the kitchen, buying this variety of mushrooms might be a huge mistake.
Minimal Contact with Water
Mushrooms get water-logged (or absorb water) when in contact with water. This means extra, unneeded moisture in the mushrooms, which will only lead the mushrooms to decay at a faster rate. Hence, you should keep the mushrooms unwashed if you plan on storing them.
Several tools like mushroom brushes and paper towels can be used instead to clean them. But if you plan to cook them straight away, you can rinse them with water because the water will evaporate quickly due to the heat used while cooking.
A fair warning would be to never store mushrooms near other foods, fruits and veggies that give off strong odors like onions, garlic, etc. Most often than not, you will notice that your mushrooms too will smell like them as mushrooms are very good at absorbing odors.
Also, it is best to buy mushrooms a day before you plan to use them and not days ahead of the occasion. In that way, you will be able to enjoy fresh mushrooms instead of soggy ones that smell like your refrigerator. Also, try to avoid cooking or eating mushrooms that look slimy or discolored even if it is barely noticeable. Best to be safe than suffer later on.
However, the methods mentioned above are the most popular means of storing mushrooms that culinary chefs use on a daily basis. Now that you know how to store your mushrooms properly, go ahead and shock everyone with your culinary expertise. Create dishes that involve lots of mushrooms like pizza or pasta. Not to mention sautéed mushrooms also make an excellent side dish for steaks and you could maybe even try making roasted garlic mushroom in butter sauce!
As long as the ingredients you use are absolutely fresh, there will be no doubt that no matter what you create, it will taste heavenly!