Plus, discover the best methods for freezing and dehydrating your favorite fungi for long-term storage.
Fresh mushrooms in brown paper bag

Known for their umami flavor and meaty texture, mushrooms are some of the most versatile ingredients you can have in the kitchen. The only catch? The actual practice of storing mushrooms can be tricky to master—the finicky fungi are delicate and perishable.

With that said, by learning the best ways to store mushrooms, you can extend their shelf-life and get the most out of your food. It might be obvious that the refrigerator is the best place to keep the fungi, but how should they be wrapped and where in the fridge is the best? And can you freeze mushrooms if you know you won't use them up in time? We talked to experts to get all the fungi facts.

Keep Mushrooms Dry

You might be surprised to learn that mushrooms are made of 80 to 90% water, says Traci Weintraub, chef and founder of Gracefully Fed, a meal delivery service and restaurant in Los Angeles. "Mushrooms have a porous texture, meaning they soak up water like a sponge," she adds.

Because of this, mushrooms need to be kept dry in order to stay firm and fresh. The goal of mushroom storage, then, is to prevent them from releasing water and pulling moisture from the air, says Richard LaMarita, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. It's also essential to avoid washing mushrooms before storing them; doing so will shorten their shelf-life.

How to Store Mushrooms in the Refrigerator

Whether you're storing common mushrooms (like white button or shiitake) or fancier varieties (like chanterelle), the proper storage method is generally the same. "Simply put whole, unwashed mushrooms in a brown paper bag and fold the top over to seal it up. The paper bag will absorb any moisture, keeping your mushrooms safe," says Weintraub.

If you don't have a brown paper bag, Weintraub recommends wrapping the mushrooms in a paper towel and placing them in a bowl in the refrigerator. Like the bag, the paper towel will absorb moisture, helping the mushrooms stay fresh. If your mushrooms came in a sealed plastic container, take them out and store using one of the aforementioned methods. This is especially important if the plastic wrap has no holes, which can trap in moisture and speed up spoilage, says LaMarita.

Where to Store Mushrooms in the Refrigerator

Regardless of your chosen mushroom storage method, "avoid placing mushrooms near strong smelling food, as they'll absorb those odors," advises Weintarub. Additionally, while storing mushrooms in a paper bag will prolong their shelf-life, be sure to use the mushrooms within a week of purchase.

The exception is if you've already sliced the mushrooms; in this case, Weintraub suggests placing them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and using them within three days.

How to Freeze Mushrooms

If you're unable use mushrooms in recipes within a week, consider freezing them. However, fresher mushrooms tend to freeze better, so do this sooner rather than later—and remember that you'll need to cook them first.

Yes, the first step is to briefly cook the mushrooms, which will help preserve their quality and flavor when frozen. To do this, lightly sauté them in butter until they are just cooked or steam them whole for 5 minutes (quartered or sliced mushrooms can be steamed for roughly 3 minutes).

For the best color post-freezing, you can also dip mushrooms in a solution of 1 pint water and 1 teaspoon lemon juice before cooking, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Once the cooked mushrooms cool, place them in a freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 12 months, says Weintraub.

How to Dehydrate Mushrooms for Long-Term Storage

Another long-term storage option is to dry your mushrooms. Compared to freezing, this method better preserves the quality of the fungi while indefinitely extending their shelf-life. Dried mushrooms also have an intense umami flavor, and they reconstitute beautifully in a soup, stew, sauce, or stir-fry says LaMarita.

To dry mushrooms, use a dehydrator or the simple technique of air-drying, which involves placing mushrooms in a mesh container with good air flow (like a circular mesh strainer) for about a week. Once they are totally dry, store them in an airtight glass jar, says LaMarita.

Signs Mushrooms Have Gone Bad

Even when stored properly, mushrooms won't last forever. You can tell mushrooms have spoiled if they're slimy, wrinkled, soggy, spongy, and darker than their original color. They'll also be smelly and moldy, says LaMarita. But if your mushrooms only have a few dark spots, they're still safe to eat—just take it as a sign that they're on their way out and should be used up soon, he adds.


Be the first to comment!