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How To Store Mushrooms: Best Methods So They Stay Fresh

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Mushrooms are one of the most popular vegetables of all and can be found in anything from omelets and quiches to stir-fries, stews, and casseroles. There are lots of different types of mushrooms though, so it's handy to know how to store them in order to maximize their shelf life and keep them fresh for longer.

A closeup of mushrooms.
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I love mushrooms and so does the rest of the family. I find myself adding them to all kinds of dishes from appetizers to breakfast recipes and as a side dish. They're really versatile and also good for you. One of my favorite ways of preparing them is to coat them in seasoned breadcrumbs and fry them to crispy perfection!

Mushrooms are easy to cook and you can grill, broil, steam, braise, roast, or bake them. They can even be enjoyed raw or used to flavor soups and sauces. Mushrooms seem to have an affinity with all kinds of protein from chicken and beef to fish and seafood.

What are Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are the umbrella-shaped fruit of specific fungi and the term "mushroom" applies to the edible ones, while the term "toadstool" applies to the inedible ones. Different types of mushrooms include portobello (Agaricus Bisporus) and shiitake (Lentinula Edodes). Button mushrooms, baby bellas, and cremini are all in the portobello mushroom family.

Some mushrooms have visible gills under the caps while others are closed. If you aren't sure which type of mushrooms to get, bear in mind an open cap with visible gills will be rich-tasting while mushrooms with the cap closed over the gills will have a milder, more delicate taste. The great thing about mushrooms is you can mix and match them, so you might want to treat yourself to more than one variety and discover new flavors.

A commercially grown mushroom is more than 90% water, under 5% carbs, and under 3% protein. There is less than 1% fat as well as around 1% vitamins and mineral salts. Mushrooms are also a source of phosphorus, selenium, copper, and potassium, along with several B vitamins and vitamin D, although most grocery store mushrooms don't contain much vitamin D since they're typically grown in dark environments.

Tips for Buying Mushrooms

When buying fresh mushrooms, look for firm ones that are smooth and free from dark spots, bruises, and soft spots. Sliminess is also an indication the mushrooms aren't fresh. Avoid mushrooms that look dried out or have a musty smell.

Farmers' markets often sell recently picked, very fresh mushrooms, but you can also find good ones at the grocery store if you know what to look for. If you have the choice of pre-packed mushrooms or loose ones you can put in a paper bag, choose the loose ones so you can inspect each one.

Mushrooms in a bowl on the counter.

How to Store Mushrooms

Although many people store whole mushrooms in their original packaging, this isn't necessarily the best way to do it if they're covered in plastic wrap. This is the best way to store fresh mushrooms:

  1. Whether you have wild mushrooms, morel mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, or another variety, keep in mind that unwashed mushrooms will last for longer, so don't rinse or wash them before storing them, or else they will spoil fast.
  2. If you're planning to use them within a day or so, you can leave them in the original packaging.
  3. If not, transfer them into a brown paper bag or something else that's porous so they can "breathe" and will last longer.
  4. Keep them in the crisper drawer of the fridge or the main compartment of your refrigerator if the crisper drawer is full.

I usually buy button mushrooms which come in a plastic container covered in plastic wrap. I tip out the mushrooms, line the plastic container with a paper towel, and then put the dry mushrooms back in there. I cover the mushrooms with a second paper towel. This will soak up any excess moisture.

If you find a damp paper towel, swap it out for a fresh one. If I get them from the store in a paper bag, I just keep them in that, but if not I use this paper towel method.

Mushrooms will last for about a week in the refrigerator, depending on how fresh they were when you got them and which variety they are.

Raw mushrooms don't freeze well, but you can freeze cooked ones in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag for up to a month.

These storage tips don't apply to dried mushrooms, which should be kept at room temperature in their original packaging, or once opened, in a Ziplock bag or airtight plastic bags. You can make your own dried mushrooms with a food dehydrator if you eat a lot of them.

How to Tell if Mushrooms are Spoiled

Because rotten mushrooms can give you nausea and a stomach ache, it's important to know the signs of spoiled ones. Mushrooms get slimy as they age and they tend to turn a darker color.

They develop soft, mushy parts and can wrinkle or shrivel. Spoiled mushrooms also have strong odors like a musty smell, so discard any that smell this way.

Common Questions about Mushrooms

What's the best way to clean mushrooms before use?

Nobody wants slimy mushrooms so don't clean or wash them until you're ready to use them. Baby bella and other grocery store mushrooms are usually pretty clean so a quick wipe with a paper towel is usually sufficient. If the mushrooms are dirty, you can give them a quick rinse in cold water. Don't soak them in water and dry them with paper towels after rinsing. Rinsing them can make them slippery, so another option for cleaning is to use a mushroom brush or kitchen brush to get any soil off before giving them a final wipe with a paper towel.

Are mushrooms seasonal?

Although you can find mushrooms year-round in the grocery store, the peak season is fall, and this is when you can find more varieties of mushrooms for sale such as oyster and porcini mushrooms, as well as chanterelles.

An overhead shot of mushrooms in a white bowl with a blue and white kitchen cloth.

Fun Facts

  • Mushrooms grow in every State but 63% of white mushrooms are produced in Pennsylvania.
  • The largest mushroom in the world is a honey mushroom in Oregon which covers a whopping 2,384 acres and is thousands of years old!
  • The best storage method for edible mushrooms is in a paper bag and not an air-tight container.

Mushrooms are one of the most popular savory ingredients used in all kinds of tasty dishes. They're a great option for egg-based dishes, stir-fries, and more. Knowing the right way to store mushrooms means you can stretch the shelf life of this fresh produce and enjoy the best results.

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