Top 3 Ways to Store Mushrooms
There are several different ways to store mushrooms depending on the variety and the desired length of storage. We will break down the storage of mushrooms into three categories.
Some are better for drying than others but all mushrooms can be dried. Some mushrooms like porcini or candy caps actually are more potently flavorful after being dried. The downside of drying some mushrooms is that the texture can be lost. Morel, porcini, candy cap and black trumpet are some of the best dried mushrooms but many handle it quite well. When drying, it is always best to start with well cleaned mushrooms. For larger mushrooms (porcini, chanterelle, or hedgehogs to name a few) you will want to slice them into fairly thick slices - about ½” - ¾” ( about 2 cm) because mushrooms are 90% water and will lose about that much in size. If you own a food dehydrator this is the time to use it. If you don't, no worries - you can also use your oven on the lowest setting. Either way you go, it will be anywhere from four hours (for smaller and thinner species like candy caps) to upwards of twelve hours for things like big really wet porcini. You will know your mushrooms are thoroughly dried when they snap like a cracker. If they have any flex or give to them it is best to let them keep drying. Once they are cracker dry, place them in a mason jar, vacuum seal bag or any other airtight container. No need to date your mushrooms because stored properly in this way you can keep your dried mushrooms for the rest of your life though it is probably best to eventually eat them or pass them off to someone else who may appreciate them more. When you are ready to use your dried mushrooms there are really two ways to use them. You can rehydrate them by soaking them in room temp water for 20 minutes if they are smaller and less dense mushrooms (like black trumpets or morels) and up to 8 hours for larger mushrooms (like whole shiitake caps). Once they are hydrated and the texture appeals to you, drain them (consider using the water they were soaked in as it has yummy mushroom flavor) and add them to your recipe. Secondly, you can simply throw them right into a dish that has a good amount of moisture in it like a soup or a risotto. This second way is our preferred way to use dried porcini after crunching them in a hand or grinding them up. We love to throw the dried bits right in with our scrambled eggs.
In the Fridge
This is the most common way that people store fresh, recently bought or foraged mushrooms. Most mushrooms will not keep in the fridge for much longer than a week or two. Two exceptions to this rule are Chanterelle and Hedgehog mushrooms which when properly stored can last up to two months in the fridge. For all mushrooms getting stored in the fridge you want to keep them in a wax or paper bag. I prefer waxed paper bags as it retains more moisture in the mushroom though you do not want them sitting in water while in storage either. There are many schools of thought about which section of the fridge is best for storage and many times you really can’t go wrong but you absolutely want to keep them away from freezing temperatures. Freezing fresh uncooked mushrooms will ruin their texture if not the entire mushroom. For this reason, we recommend keeping them higher in the fridge away from potentially frosty crisper drawers. Keep the bag or container that they are in loosely closed as too much air flow around them will dry them out and too little may cause them to go bad faster. We opt for a couple loose folds in the top of the bag or even crumpling it a bit. Stored with these things in mind your mushrooms should keep as long as possible.
In the Freezer
In our opinion this is an often under utilized way to store mushrooms. When done correctly you can retain the texture and flavor of mushrooms for up to a year in the freezer. Only maitake, crimini and portobello mushrooms can be frozen raw and still be acceptable to eat once defrosted. We prefer to cook our mushrooms before freezing them as it makes for an easier meal later and preserves their texture for a very long time. While we have cooked well seasoned mushrooms to store in the freezer, we have found that keeping the recipe simple allows for a wider range of dishes down the line - because who knows what you will want to add them to in 6 months or a year! After you have cooked your mushrooms, let them cool and then ideally vacuum seal them or double ziplock bag them making sure to get as much air out as possible. Pop them in the freezer and be ready to thank yourself for having the forethought to save some of these for later days.
You can also combine these top three methods if you have some mushrooms you put in the fridge that you just know you won’t be able to cook before they go bad. In this way, though mushrooms are generally pretty short lived, you can get the absolute most out of them and enjoy them even when their season has long passed.
Check out our blog page for more mushroom information.