If you love mushrooms the way I do, then you probably stock up on them whenever they are in season or on sale.
The problem is, they only keep for about a week in the fridge. If you can’t consume all of them within 7 days, and you don’t want them to go to waste, you need a solution.
While some mushrooms work great for drying or pickling, others, such as portobellos, creminis, and button mushrooms do not.
So what do you do with these types of fungi? Simple: freeze them and they’ll keep well for many months.
Freezing mushrooms is not that difficult to do. You just have to follow some steps to make sure you are preparing and storing them properly. Don’t worry, because I’ll teach you everything you need to know!
Choosing the Best Mushrooms
The freshest mushrooms should look pretty – meaning, no dark spots, molds, or blemishes. They should look smooth, plump, and firm. You don’t want shrooms that are dried out and wrinkle-y.
The mushrooms should smell fresh and earthy, too. If they produce a moldy or musty scent, don’t get them! Mushrooms that look or smell as such won’t keep well at all in the freezer.
As for the flavor, check the mushroom cap. If you want a delicate flavor, pick mushrooms with a closed veil underneath the cap. Mushrooms with open veils and exposed gills give a richer flavor.
How to Freeze Mushrooms
While some mushrooms can be frozen raw, others, such as shiitakes and button mushrooms, and wild mushrooms like tooth mushrooms, oysters, and chicken of the woods, require cooking before freezing. They just have a better texture when stored this way.
So if you’ve got these types of mushrooms waiting to be stored, be sure to cook them first before freezing.
You have three options: saute, steam, or blanch. Just take note that sauteed mushrooms will not last as long (9 months) in the freezer than if you steam or blanch (12 months) them. So pick the method depending on how long you want them to last.
Quick Summary: sauteed mushrooms will last for 9 months in the freezer while blanched mushrooms can be used for up to year.
The Saute Method
Frozen sauteed mushrooms are firm once defrosted. They are great as pizza and pasta toppings, or in a quiche.
1. Give the mushrooms a good rinse in cold water. Let them dry in the open air. Brush them with a towel to dry further.
2. Cut the ends of the stems, you don’t want to eat those.
3. Slice bigger mushrooms into small portions. You want them to be at least half an inch. Be sure to slice them uniformly for even cooking.
4. Mushrooms will turn darker when frozen. To prevent this from happening, soak the mushrooms in a mixture of 1 pint of water and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1.5 teaspoons of citric acid for 5 minutes.
5. In a pan, heat butter or oil over medium-low heat. Turn the heat up to high and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
6. Turn the heat off and allow them to cool to room temperature.
7. Place the mushrooms in a single layer on a metal cookie sheet, making sure that the mushrooms don’t touch one another. Freeze them for 4 hours. You will notice a small layer of ice on the mushrooms, but don’t worry, that’s not freezer burn, just frost.
Doing this flash-freezing process prevents the mushrooms from sticking to one another once frozen. That way you can easily take out the number of mushrooms you need when you are ready to use them.
Note: You have to execute the next two steps quickly because you do not want the mushrooms to thaw.
8. Place the mushrooms in small freezer-safe containers that are no bigger than 1 cup. Leave at least one inch of empty space at the top of the jar because the mushrooms will expand during freezing.
Alternatively, you could also store them in freezer bags in a single layer no thicker than ½ inch. This way you can easily break up the shrooms into small pieces, which will come in handy when you need to use them.
If you have a vacuum sealer – fantastic! Mushrooms have a high water content, meaning they are more susceptible to freezer burn than other food items. If you don’t have one, just be sure to squeeze out as much excess air as you can before you seal the bags.
9. Pop them in the freezer.
The Steam Method
Frozen steamed mushrooms make a great ingredient or topping to any dish since steaming them keeps their firm quality.
- Follow steps 1 through 4 above.
- Steamed mushrooms will turn darker when frozen. To prevent this from happening, soak the mushrooms in a mixture of 1 pint of water and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1.5 teaspoons of citric acid for 5 minutes.
- Steam the mushrooms. The steam time will vary depending on the size of your mushrooms. Follow these recommendations for perfectly cooked mushrooms:
- Whole: 5 minutes
- Button and quartered: 3.5 minutes
- Sliced: 3 minutes
- Follow steps 6 through 9 from above.
If your chosen recipe does not require baking, add the frozen mushrooms in the last 20 minutes of cooking. For stir-frying, add the mushrooms bit by bit to prevent the pan from cooling.
The Blanch Method
Frozen blanched mushrooms will last for up to 12 months, but they will have a slightly soggy texture once defrosted. You can use these for making soups and stews, as you won’t notice the texture.
- Follow steps 1 through 3.
- Boil water in a large pot. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice per quart of water to help prevent mushrooms from darkening.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes. Any longer than that and the mushrooms will become soggy.
- Place the mushrooms in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process and drain once cool to the touch.
- Follow steps 6 through 9.