Congratulations, you have found a lot of mushrooms! You bring them home and realize that you can’t use them all right away. What now?
A forager needs to know how to store mushrooms so they can preserve them, avoid waste, and, more importantly, food poisoning. In this post, I examine the exact procedure of each method of storing mushrooms, along with their advantages.
STORE FRESH MUSHROOMS IN A FRIDGE
- Fresh mushrooms will keep for 3-7 days in the fridge.
- Don’t wash them before storage.
- Store them in a single layer.
- Put them on the upper floors, which are less damp.
- Foraged mushrooms keep shorter.
- Leave purchased mushrooms in the original packaging.
- There are sophisticated ways to preserve mushrooms longer.
Fresh mushrooms would start to fade in less than a day. That’s why you need to put them in the fridge as soon as possible after you bring them home. And since mushrooms love to complicate things, you can’t put them just anywhere in the fridge. It needs to be a dry place on the upper floors, not the vegetable compartment.
You see, mushrooms soak water in like a sponge, but because they are already over 90% water, to begin with, the excess water doesn’t have anywhere to go. As they soak more water, they crumble and mildew quickly.
For the same reason, don’t wash the mushrooms before putting them in the fridge!
DON’T PUT MUSHROOMS IN PLASTIC
Without air access, a fast chemical process will start in a mushroom: decomposition of proteins. An edible mushroom can become mildly poisonous within 2 hours of being stored in a plastic bag, causing similar problems as putrid meat.
If a mushroom would be stored in this way for 2 days or more, it could actually become lethal, as botulinum toxin is one of the products of a long-term dissolution of proteins. It is especially dangerous to kids and seniors.
When you store mushrooms in the fridge, put them in a plate or at least an open paper bag to guarantee access to air. Cultivated mushrooms are usually sold in a special airy foil, so it is best to keep them in the original packaging.
PRESERVING MUSHROOMS FOR LONGER
If you forage a lot of mushrooms, a lifetime of 3 days may not suffice. Luckily, there are several methods to store mushrooms for longer:
- freezing cooked mushrooms
- canning in saltwater.
Drying is by far the most popular way of preserving mushrooms. Dried mushrooms retain or improve both their taste and their aroma, plus they keep the longest. I spent 2 days writing a helpful guide on how to dry mushrooms. You will find all the information you might need in it.
- Avoid freezing fresh mushrooms.
- You can freeze cooked or sautéed mushrooms.
- They will keep for 6 months.
- Their texture will change slightly.
By freezing fresh mushrooms, you would damage their cell structure. A fast rotting process would start immediately after unfreezing them, which could cause mycotoxin poisoning.
Heat preparation stops the chemical processes inside mushrooms entirely, so if you cook or sauté the mushrooms first, you are safe. Sautéed mushrooms are universally usable for all culinary purposes, so sautéing would be the better choice.
HOW TO STORE MUSHROOMS IN SALTWATER
Canning in saltwater is the least known method of the 3, undeservingly, because it preserves their texture and taste best.
- Mushrooms in saltwater will keep for 1 year.
- Tougher mushrooms are best for this method.
- Preparation takes 1/2 hour of labor and 1 hour of canning.
- Mushrooms stored this way are most suitable for sauces, soups, and salads.
Tougher mushrooms like king boletes (porcini), other boletes, russulas, or button mushrooms are preferable. You will also need jars, about 2 medium jars per pound of mushrooms (1/4 kg per jar). Clean these jars with hot water perfectly.
Clean the mushrooms and cut them into medium pieces. Put them in a pot, add 4 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 gallon (1 liter) of water, plus any spice depending on your tastes. Make the water boil and cook for 12 minutes, removing any foam during the process.
Put the mushrooms in the jar, leaving about an inch of free space above them. And enough boiling water to cover them entirely and then some, reaching about halfway to the edge of the jar. Seal the glasses and put them in a deep baking pan lined up with a towel.
Add hot water to the height of 1/2 inch and put in an oven set to 190℉ and leave them there for 1 hour. Afterward, let them cool down. Store in a cool dark place. If you did everything correctly, they would last for at least a year. You can use mushrooms pickled in saltwater to prepare both warm and cold meals, including the pickle.