If you're a mushroom lover, you'll thank yourself if you stock up on your favorite varieties of mushrooms when they're in season--and cheap. Then freeze them until you're ready to use them in all your favorite dishes.
Choose mushrooms that look and smell fresh. Mushrooms that are dry, shriveled, darkened, moldy, have bad spots, or give off an unpleasant odor should be avoided. Only freeze mushrooms that are in good condition.
Clean and Prep Mushrooms to Freeze
Wash your mushrooms in cold water and trim off the ends of the stems. Mushrooms more than one-inch across should be sliced or quartered.
Freezing will change the color and texture of mushrooms, making them both darker and softer
Steamed mushrooms have a longer freezer life than sauteed mushrooms
Cooking Mushrooms for Freezing
Mushrooms should be cooked before freezing. There are two ways to accomplish this:
Sauteeing: Heat the mushrooms in a frying pan with a small amount of butter or oil over high heat. Cook them for about five minutes, or until the mushrooms are fully cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Steaming: To minimize the darkening effect of steaming, soak the mushrooms in a solution of one teaspoon lemon juice or 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid to one pint of water for five minutes. Then steam following these recommended times:
- Whole mushrooms: 5 minutes
- Button mushrooms: 3 1/2 minutes
- Quartered mushrooms: 3 1/2 minutes
- Sliced mushrooms: 3 minutes
Flash Freeze Mushrooms for Best Taste
Allow the mushrooms to cool completely. Then spread them out on a cookie sheet and flash-freeze them. Once they're completely frozen, use a spatula to lift the mushrooms from the cookie sheet. Then pack the mushrooms in freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving a half-inch of headspace for expansion, and return them to the freezer.
Squeeze out as much air as possible before you seal the containers. This will help to prevent freezer burn. Frozen mushrooms should be used within a year, though sooner is definitely better.
Use a FoodSaver to vacuum-pack your mushrooms. Since they have a high water content, mushrooms are more prone to freezer burn than other foods.
Note that sometimes washing mushrooms can make them soggy and lead to freezer burn. Some people prefer to simply brush or wipe them off prior to sticking them in the freezer.
How to Use Frozen Mushrooms
Drop the frozen mushroom pieces directly into recipes that will be heated or thaw the mushrooms in the refrigerator before you use them. Since you froze your mushrooms individually, you'll be able to scoop out just what you need for your recipe.
More Ways to Preserve Mushrooms
If your fresh mushrooms don't last as long in the fridge as you'd like them to, it could be the way you're storing them. Avoid stacking things on top of them to avoid bruising, and keep them away from strong-smelling items as mushrooms are like sponges and will absorb the scent.
If your freezer space is limited, try purchasing dried mushrooms--or dry them yourself--instead of freezing fresh ones. They're easy to rehydrate when you need them and take up very little space.