Choose the Right Container
When storing mushrooms, use a paper bag or perforated plastic bag and avoid airtight containers that can cause excess moisture build-up. Mushrooms produce moisture as theyrespire, so proper airflow is important to prevent the mushrooms from getting slimy. A paper bag is best for short-term storage of 3 to 5 days. For longer storage of up to 1 to 2 weeks, use a bag with tiny holes or slits to allow for sufficient airflow. Whatever container you choose, do not seal it completely tight.
Plastic bags can work but may cause excess condensation. If using a plastic container or bag, be sure to not tightly seal it. It is best to leave the bag or container slightly open or poke several small holes to allow for airflow. Under the proper conditions in the refrigerator, white mushrooms can last 3 to 5 days, cremini mushrooms 5 to 7 days, and porcini mushrooms 1 to 2 weeks. Check your mushrooms regularly and use them as soon as possible before spoilage occurs. For the best quality and food safety, do not keep mushrooms for longer than the recommended storage times.
Prepare the Mushrooms for Storage
To properly prepare mushrooms for storage, first clean them gently with a damp paper towel or cloth to remove any dirt and debris. Do not wash mushrooms under running water until ready to cook, as excess moisture will speed up decay. For most mushrooms, brushing off dirt with a towel is sufficient. More delicate mushrooms like chanterelles may need to be wiped with a damp towel to remove dirt from crevices. Pat all mushrooms dry with towels after cleaning.
For small batches, you can also use a mushroom brush to gently remove any remaining dirt and then pat dry. Be very gentle when handling mushrooms, as they are porous and bruise easily. Any damaged spots will decay quickly, even when refrigerated.
After cleaning, the next step is to trim the mushroom stems. Using a knife, cut about 1/4 inch off the base of the stems. The stems contain enzymes that break down the caps, so trimming them helps the mushrooms last longer. Do not leave excess stem attached, but also be careful not to cut the caps.
Once cleaned and trimmed, mushrooms should be used as soon as possible. However, if you do not plan to use them within a couple of days, certain preparation steps can help maximize freshness:
- Slice: For mushrooms like white button, cremini, and portobello, slicing them before storing helps them keep better in the refrigerator. Their dense caps can hold in excess moisture, but slicing allows for evaporation. Slice mushrooms uniformly so they fit together well in your storage container.
- Roast: Roasting mushrooms before refrigerating will help them last significantly longer. Roasting evaporates excess moisture and prevents bacterial growth. To roast, toss mushrooms in oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 F stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container up to 10 days.
- Freezing: If you cannot use mushrooms within 3 to 5 days, the best method for long term storage is freezing. Mushrooms can last up to 10 months properly frozen. Clean, slice if needed, then lay in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Transfer to an airtight container or ziplock freezer bags and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.
- Drying: Another option for shelf-stable mushrooms is drying them. Clean mushrooms can be air-dried or dehydrated and will last 6-12 months. Rehydrate dried mushrooms by simmering in broth until tender before using in recipes.
Store Mushrooms in the Refrigerator
After preparing mushrooms for storage, place them in the refrigerator as soon as possible at around 35 to 38°F. Proper refrigeration at the ideal temperature and humidity levels is key to keeping mushrooms fresh for as long as possible.
The relative humidity level in the refrigerator should be around 95%. You can use a digital thermometer/hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity. If needed, place mushrooms in a perforated bag or container to maintain humidity.
Keep mushrooms away from strong-smelling foods like onions that can impart undesirable flavors. Do not wash mushrooms until ready to use, as excess moisture leads to spoilage. For best results, place mushrooms in a container or bag that still allows for airflow. A paper bag with some holes or slits works well for this.
Here are some tips for storing common types of mushrooms in the refrigerator:
- White mushrooms: Last 3 to 5 days. White mushrooms have the shortest shelf life, so use promptly.
- Cremini mushrooms: Last 5 to 7 days. Creminis have an earthy flavor and slightly longer shelf life than white mushrooms.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Last 7 to 10 days. Shiitakes have the most distinctive flavor and densest caps of common mushrooms. They can last over a week when properly refrigerated.
- Oyster mushrooms: Last 7 to 10 days. Oyster mushrooms are very perishable, but can last up to a week or more when stored at the ideal temperature.
- Maitake mushrooms: Last 7 to 10 days. Maitakes have a frilly appearance and moderately short shelf life. Use within a week for best quality.
- Porcini mushrooms: Last 1 to 2 weeks. Porcinis have the longest shelf life of gourmet mushrooms. Monitor carefully and use within 2 weeks.
For the best quality and food safety, do not keep mushrooms for longer than the recommended refrigeration periods. Check your mushrooms regularly and use them as soon as possible before spoilage occurs. If you do not plan to use mushrooms within a few days, preserving methods like drying, freezing or pickling them are better options for long term storage.
Freeze Mushrooms for Long-term Storage
Freezing is the best method for long term storage of mushrooms. Properly frozen, mushrooms can last up to 10 months while still maintaining good quality. To freeze mushrooms, first clean them as directed, then trim stems and slice or leave whole depending on the type of mushroom.
Spread the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet so they are not touching. Freeze them until firm, about 2 to 3 hours. Then promptly transfer to an airtight container or sealable plastic freezer bags, excluding as much air as possible before sealing. Squeeze out excess air and seal bags to prevent freezer burn.
Properly wrapping mushrooms helps keep them from getting icy and freezing into a block. Double wrapping in plastic wrap, foil, or sealing in ziplock bags provides an extra layer of protection against freezer burn.
Make sure to label and date packages so you know how long mushrooms have been stored. For best quality, use frozen mushrooms within 10 months. Mushrooms will last longer frozen than refrigerated, but they can still gradually deteriorate in quality over many months.
Some tips for freezing specific types of mushrooms:
- White mushrooms: Can last up to 10 months frozen. Clean, slice and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. For white mushrooms, slicing before freezing allows for better quality when thawed.
- Cremini mushrooms: Can last 6 to 8 months frozen. Creminis also benefit from slicing before freezing to maintain quality. Freeze as directed above.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Can last 6 to 8 months frozen. Clean shiitakes whole or slice caps from stems. Freeze caps and stems separately as directed.
- Oyster mushrooms: Can last 4 to 6 months frozen. Oyster mushrooms are best frozen whole as clusters or individually. Freeze as soon as possible after harvesting for best quality.
- Porcini mushrooms: Can last 3 to 4 months frozen. Clean porcinis thoroughly. Freeze whole mushrooms or caps and stems separately. Porcinis have a shorter freezer life, so use within 4 months for best quality.
When ready to use, move frozen mushrooms to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Do not thaw on the counter. Mushrooms will become quite soft and limp after thawing, so revive them for the best texture. Gently squeeze out excess moisture and briefly soak in ice water. Drain, pat dry and use as desired. Thawed mushrooms should be used as soon as possible. Do not refreeze after thawing.
Revive Mushrooms Before Use
When ready to use mushrooms that were previously frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Do not thaw mushrooms on the counter, as this can promote bacterial growth and spoilage. As mushrooms thaw, they will become quite soft and limp, releasing excess moisture. To revive mushrooms and restore texture before using in recipes, do the following:
Gently rinse thawed mushrooms under cold running water. Do not soak mushrooms, just briefly rinse off any ice or excess liquid. Gently pat dry with towels. Alternatively, you can soak mushrooms in ice water for 30 minutes. The ice water will help firm up mushrooms without waterlogging them.
For whole mushrooms, gently squeeze out excess moisture using your hands, then place them on towels to drain further. Gently toss or turn mushrooms so all sides can drain.
For sliced mushrooms, scoop them out of any remaining liquid with your hands or a strainer and spread onto towels-lined plates or baking sheets in an even layer. Change or blot towels as needed.
Allow mushrooms to drain and air dry for at least 30 minutes before cooking or serving. This allows them to firm up to a desirable texture. Fluff up or toss mushrooms a couple times as they drain and dry. Do not stack mushrooms on top of each other, as they need air circulation on all sides.
Revived mushrooms should be used promptly after draining and drying. Do not refrigerate again, but cook as desired. The reviving process restores texture, but does not stop deterioriation. For best quality and food safety, use mushrooms within 4 hours of thawing and reviving.
Some ideas for using revived mushrooms:
- Sautéed mushrooms: Mushrooms revive well for sautéing with garlic and herbs. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté mushrooms until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve as a side or topping.
- Risotto or pasta: Add mushrooms to risotto, pasta dishes, or mushroom bourguignon. The starch in rice or pasta helps absorb excess moisture from the mushrooms.
- Pan-seared mushrooms: Brush mushrooms clean and pat very dry. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high and pan-sear mushrooms in batches until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Serve as a topping for steak, chicken or eggs.
- Mushroom soup or stew: Revived mushrooms work well in soups, stews and braises where excess moisture will be absorbed by other ingredients. Use in cream of mushroom soup, mushroom stew or mushroom barley soup.
- Stir fries: High-heat cooking methods like stir frying also work with revived mushrooms by quickly cooking off excess moisture. Stir fry mushrooms with vegetables and serve over rice or noodles.