Maybe you found a cluster of Morels. Perhaps a friend gave you a bunch of fresh Chanterelles. Or the supermarket is having a sale on fresh Maitake. Great! But such an opportunity brings up some questions. How do I store my mushrooms long term? Can I freeze Morels? How long do mushrooms last in the fridge? Read on for the answers to these and many other questions about how to store mushrooms long term.
What’s the Best Way to Store My Mushrooms?
There are many ways to store mushrooms. Properly stored, fresh mushrooms can last over a week in the refrigerator. For longer-term storage, you can freeze them or dehydrate them. You can even preserve mushrooms in oil.
Each method has advantages. Storing your mushrooms in the refrigerator is the quickest and simplest method, but your mushrooms will only last for a week or two. Dried mushrooms will last much longer and can even enhance the taste of your mushrooms. Frozen mushrooms lose some of their texture, but they are ready to use right away.
We will cover all of these methods: refrigerating, freezing, drying, and storing in oil. Read on for more details.
Preparing Your Mushrooms for Storage
The first thing you will need to do is to prepare your mushrooms for storage. Whichever method you are planning to use, you should clean and trim the mushrooms.
How to Clean Mushrooms
Soaking mushrooms is rarely a good idea. They will retain liquid, which will reduce flavor, affect texture and cause problems when cooking.
To clean your mushrooms, simply wipe the caps and stems with a damp paper towel. Trim off any part that is spoiled or still dirty.
How to tell if Mushrooms are Bad
You should also pick out any bad mushrooms before storing them, as it will be harder to do so after they have been in storage.
How Can I tell if my mushrooms are bad?
- Slime: If mushrooms are slimy to the touch, they are spoiled, and it’s best to throw them away.
- Wrinkles: As mushrooms get older, they can get wrinkly. Wrinkled mushrooms probably won’t make you sick, but they won’t taste as good as fresh mushrooms. They are not good candidates for long-term storage.
- Dark Spots: When dark spots appear, this is a sign that the mushroom is going bad. If there are only a few dark spots, you can cut them off and use them immediately. Otherwise, they should go in the trash.
- Smell: Mushrooms usually don’t have a strong smell, so if there is any strong smell, it’s best to throw them away.
If you have any doubts about your mushrooms, throw them away. Bad mushrooms can make you sick.
Also, the adage of “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel” is true of just about any foodstuff. One bad mushroom will make the others go bad much quicker.
How to Store Fresh Mushrooms
The easiest way to store mushrooms is to put them into the refrigerator. To get the best results, put a paper towel into a bag or container, and put your mushrooms on top of the paper towel. Leave the container open so that the mushrooms can breathe.
Alternatively, you can place your fresh mushrooms in a brown paper bag, fold over the open end to semi-seal, and put it in the fridge.
How long can you store fresh mushrooms? Well, appropriately stored, the mushrooms will stay fresh for a week or so. We have had whole mushrooms last for up to two weeks.
How to Store Sliced Fresh Mushrooms
Place them in a paper bag, as above, but if you have many slices, layer them with parchment so that it absorbs the excess moisture. Sliced mushrooms will dry out quicker than whole mushrooms, and mold will form sooner as there is more moisture to escape. Sliced mushrooms will only keep for 2-3 days, so use them quickly.
How to Store Dried Mushrooms
If you have been out mushroom foraging or have a friend who went out mushroom hunting, you may have a huge pile of mushrooms to store. If this is the case, consider dehydrating the ones that you don’t think you will use within a week or so. Dehydrating is a great way to store mushrooms long term.
How Do You Dehydrate Mushrooms
Just about all mushrooms can be dehydrated, and some actually taste better when dried, as the process concentrates their flavor. Shiitakes are particularly good dried, and some people love to use dried Morels.
You can dehydrate mushrooms is in the oven. Simply clean the mushrooms with a soft brush, slice, place on parchment with no pieces touching, and put in the oven for an hour or so. Turn once and put back into the oven for another hour or until totally dried, turning more times if required.
You can also dry your mushrooms in a Food Dehydrator.
Chefman Food Dehydrator Machine with 6 Trays — This is a food dehydrator that I use and recommend. There are cheaper ones, but the cheap ones have one preset temperature that is usually too high for dehydrating mushrooms. This one lets you set the temperature anywhere from 95￮F to 158￮F.
If you would like to learn more about drying mushrooms long term by dehydrating them, please take a look at my article, How to Dry Mushrooms, a Complete Guide.
To store your dried mushrooms, put them in sealed containers – a mason jar is a good option — and store them out of direct sunlight and heat. Both the sun and heat can cause condensation to form in the container, and this (along with moisture not totally dried out of the mushrooms), can cause mold to grow.
How Do You Rehydrate Mushrooms
To reconstitute dried mushrooms, put them in liquid and let them soak. Soaking time will depend on the size of the mushrooms. Slices rehydrate faster than whole mushrooms; but think 20 minutes or so. You can rehydrate them in water, stock, wine, or any liquid you wish. Don’t throw away the liquid; as it will add great flavor to the dish that you are cooking.
Dried mushrooms are ideal in soups, as you can throw them right into the broth without rehydrating them first.
Many people wonder, do dried mushrooms taste good after they’ve been rehydrated? The answer is Yes. But how similar they taste compared to fresh mushrooms varies from one type of mushroom to another. For instance, dried Porcini make better risotto than fresh Porcini. Dried Shiitakes are also excellent.
How To Store Frozen Mushrooms
People often ask me, Can I freeze Mushrooms?
Yes, you can freeze mushrooms. However, your mushrooms will become darker and softer when you unfreeze them. Still, this is an excellent method to store mushrooms long term that you plan to use in soups and stews.
Also, you should cook your mushrooms before you freeze them; this stops the enzyme action that leads to spoilage.
Clean, slice, and sauté your mushrooms in the usual way. You can also steam them whole or blanche them if you prefer. Be sure to cook them thoroughly so that most of their liquid has evaporated.
When the mushrooms have completely cooled, place them on a cookie pan or a sheet pan, and put them in the freezer to flash freeze the mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms are frozen, you can place them in a plastic bag, seal them and leave them in the freezer. Squeeze out as much excess air from the freezer bag as possible to prevent freezer burn.
Stored this way, they will last for about a year.
Preserving Mushrooms in Oil
Italians have been using olive oil to preserve fresh mushrooms for centuries. When gathering mushrooms, the last thing on their minds is freezing them. The only options considered for long-term mushroom storage in this Mediterranean country is to dry them or put them in olive oil.
To prepare mushrooms for preservation in oil, slice them and place them on absorbent paper. Sprinkle some salt on them to remove as much moisture as possible.
You can also set them in the sun for an hour or so, or you can put them in the oven for 20 -30 minutes to dry out, again sprinkling with salt first.
Next, boil the slices in water with a bit of added vinegar (about 3-4 tablespoons per quart of water) for 4-5 minutes. Then, remove the mushrooms and let them dry.
Adding the Olive Oil
Whichever method you use, take your mushrooms and put them in a sterilized jar, without adding any salt this time.
Pour olive oil over the mushrooms until they are submerged. Press down with a spoon to remove any trapped air and pop the lids onto the jars. You can add finely chopped garlic, chili, or any other flavors you wish to this. These mushrooms make tasty side dishes for a meal or great starters.
Store the jars in a dark, cool place, and they should be good for three months. Once opened, put in the refrigerator and use them within two weeks.
Wrapping It Up
It is not hard to store mushrooms long term and, provided you do it correctly, you should be able to enjoy your surplus of mushrooms for a long time to come.