There are many reasons you may want to preserve and store your mushrooms. As you grow mushrooms, you may get flushes or growth cycles that outpace your demand for fresh mushrooms. So learning ways to store and preserve your mushrooms as a farmer is essential.
Let’s take a look at several of the most popular methods for preserving mushrooms.
Using a freeze dryer is very popular because the process preserves much of the taste, as well as the nutritional benefits of the mushrooms. You often see freeze drying used for nutritional supplements and as an ingredient for other foods like sauces.
To properly freeze dry for supplementation and assure the highest level of nutritional value commercial grade freeze dryers are used.
Can you just place mushrooms in the freezer as a low-cost alternative?
While freezing can help you maintain your mushrooms for some flavor, this also lowers the nutritional value much more than freeze drying does. Also, the added moister can cause issues with the appearance and quality of the mushrooms.
Most growers take the time to cook their mushrooms before freezing them. This can help lock in flavor and also prevent many of the negative effects of standard freezing. (Most of those are avoided by commercial freeze drying as a primary alternative).
Before you cook your mushrooms, remember to clean and prep them properly for cooking based on the variety and use of your mushrooms.
The top preperation step before you freeze is cooking. The most used cooking methods are sautéing and steam cooking.
To Sauté your mushrooms, we suggest following these steps.
Heat the mushrooms in a standard frying pan with a modest amount of butter or oil as desired. Cook most mushrooms for about 5 minutes over medium heat or until cooked. One key is to assure that most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan.
For Steam Cooking follow these simple steps.
After cleaning a preparation, dip your mushrooms into a quick bath of lemon juice and water. I use one teaspoon per cup of water. This will help the mushrooms retain their proper color.
Then you just steam your mushrooms based upon these standard cook times that are based on how you prepared the mushrooms for steaming.
Whole mushrooms: 5 minutes, Button mushrooms: 3 1/2 minutes.
Quartered mushrooms: 3 1/2 minutes, Sliced mushrooms: 3 minutes.
When you go to freeze your mushrooms, do not just throw them in a bag to freeze. You want to allow them to freeze separately first on a sheet pan. Then scoop them up and freeze there in a vacuum pouch. The reason for this is that mushrooms have a high water content and they will get freezer burn very easily unless you take these extra steps.
How about refrigeration?
Yes you can refrigerate mushrooms as well, preferably after cooking. Refrigeration can extend the life of your mushrooms by 4-7 days.
It is possible to pickle your , and this is how it is done.
After you clean and prepare your mushrooms for pickling. It is time to prepare your pickling mix. In a stainless steel pot add 1 cup of water and 1/3 a cup of white wine vinegar. (Remember you want to use only non-reactive cookware so no cast iron or aluminum folks)
Now is the time to spice up your pickling brine. Add salt, pepper, spices, and herbs as desired. Remember, a little spice in pickling can go a long way.
I also like to add garlic fresh pressed into my brine, but that is up to your taste buds.
Then add your mushrooms.
Let the brine mixture cook at a low boil for 15 minutes. Call it a summer if you like. Now is the time to remove the mix and let it cool to only 180-190 degrees.
Now you can use your pickling jars (I like Ball) and spoon the mushrooms into the jars. Make sure to transfer your spices as well. It all goes in.
Allow the mushrooms and spices to cool down for 45mins–1hr before putting on the lids. Then refrigerate. When done properly, this method can extend the shelf life of your mushrooms by 30 days or more.
Drying mushrooms in a food dehydrator can help you store them for long term use as an additive or flavoring. Unlike freeze drying however, this does not maintain much of the nutritional benefits of the mushrooms.
After cleaning your mushrooms, you want to slice them thin to speed up the drying process. The thinner the slices on your dehydration trays, the faster the drying. On average, you can check your mushroom slices after 3 hours of drying. If they are still damp to the touch or easily bend, continue drying for at least 1 more hour and check again.
Once you have dried the mushrooms, let them cool, and then place them in an airtight container. When you are ready to rehydrate them, you can add them to stews, soups, and other watery items directly. Or you can place them in boiling water and then turn it off and let them sit for 30 minutes.