As a Certified Health Coach I get asked all the time about storing vegetables like mushrooms. When it comes to this vegetable, you may ask yourself, can I freeze mushrooms?
Mushrooms may be frozen to prolong their shelf life and reduce food waste. Mushrooms can be frozen raw, whole or trimmed and placed into airtight freezer bags or Tupperware containers. It’s important to know, freezing mushrooms will affect their nutritional value and change their texture significantly.
This article will inform you how to freeze mushrooms, what nutrients you lose after and what dishes are best with frozen or fresh mushrooms.
How to Freeze Mushrooms
The act of freezing mushroom is not just throwing them in the fridge and hoping they’ll be perfect when you take them out later. This usually causes the mushrooms to become almost useless and not at all healthy once you eat them again.
Instead, there are several things you must do before you freeze your mushrooms to ensure they will last longer and be usable once you need them 1.
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- Washing: Before you do anything with your mushrooms, they should be cleaned first. Sometimes you can buy already cleaned mushrooms from the store, but most of the time they will only be surface cleaned. Using clean, cold tap water you should rinse off any black parts of your mushrooms before proceeding to do anything else.
- Cutting: Cutting your mushrooms into your favourite size or shape will save you a lot of time in the future. This will let you grab frozen mushrooms and add them to any dish. The mushrooms are already small, and they’ll easily thaw prior to cooking and have a fresher taste. Trim off the ends of the stems before slicing or quartering them.
- Steaming: Mushrooms can be steamed or heated in a pan with fat. Steaming them is the better option and they will last longer. Steam whole mushrooms for five minutes, quartered for 3 minutes and sliced for three minutes. Let them cool, drain and proceed to packaging. Color tip: To preserve the mushroom color prior to steaming, first soak them in a solution of one pint of water and one teaspoon of lemon juice for five minutes.
- Tray freeze: Place the mushrooms in a single layer and spaced apart on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. This will prevent them from clumping up and sticking together once you place them in a bag or container. When frozen, remove them from the freezer and place them in freezer bags.
- Freezer bags: Putting your mushrooms in a freezer bag that you usually use for meat will ensure they are not contaminated with anything that may be in the fridge 2. They will freeze more evenly and be slightly fresher for longer. Besides, it makes it much easier to sort out your fridge. Make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible, this will help avoid freezer burn. Consider using a vacuum sealer which are the best for achieving an airtight bag. Check out their current prices on Amazon, vacuum sealers.
- Tupperware: If you do not have freezer bags something else that works well are small Tupperware containers. This lets you easily keep your mushrooms and other produce separate from other foods kept in your fridge. Leave a 1/2 inch of space at the top of the container. Use Tupperware specifically for freezing. They’re listed on Amazon which you can check out right here, food storage containers.
Tupperware is great for storing many foods, but can you store eggs or blueberries in them? Check out my blog posts on them by clicking here, Can You Store Eggs in Tupperware?, or here, Can You Store Blueberries in Tupperware?
Are Mushrooms Good After Being Frozen?
The great part of freezing mushrooms is they will keep after being frozen. Some nutrients that will be lost but overall the mushroom will remain a healthy option to add to your meals 3.
The best part of freezing mushrooms is they will last longer, letting you gather a larger bunch initially to be used throughout the month.
Getting to understand what happens when you freeze your mushrooms and how to freeze them properly will make your stash last much longer.
What Happens to Frozen Mushrooms
Mushrooms have a lot of water in them, which means when you cook them they tend to shrink significantly. When you store your mushrooms in the freezer, it might not be the mushroom itself that freezes, but the water inside. This means the mushrooms will become more brittle while frozen, which can make certain meals much easier to prepare.
Freezing the mushroom also stops any growth on them, like fungi and other things that mushrooms are covered in. It stops the tell-tale slime from developing on the outside of the mushrooms as well.
Freezing them extends their usable life, letting you easily store them for several weeks up to a year if needed 4.
The process of freezing your mushrooms is simple, but the benefits of doing so are all unique to your situation.
What Nutrients and Quality Frozen Mushrooms Lose
Like all frozen foods, there is a trade-off to freezing them, something that must be traded for letting your mushrooms last much longer than they normally would. The hidden things you will lose while freezing your mushrooms 5 are the nutrients, namely B vitamins, vitamin C, copper, potassium and vitamin D 6.
These are all things you count on receiving when including healthy food like mushrooms in your meals. Even though, most of the health benefits of mushrooms are not lost by freezing.
However, an unforeseen negative that happens when you freeze mushrooms is when you defrost them. Because the water on the inside has been crystalized by being frozen, the mushroom will no longer have the same texture.
Anyone that has worked with frozen mushrooms that have been left to thaw will know they have become mushy.
These frozen mushrooms will also become unpleasant to cut, having almost a rubber texture or being rock hard when still frozen. Preparing your mushrooms prior to freezing them will help you for when you use them later.
How to Thaw Frozen Mushrooms
Some dishes are fine to prepare by adding your mushrooms frozen, see the table below. Other dishes are better served by adding fresh mushrooms during preparation. Obviously, if you’re using frozen mushrooms there’s no need to thaw them.
For fresh mushrooms, it’s best to remove them from the freezer and place them in the fridge the day before.
Using Fresh or Frozen Mushrooms in Meals
Many meals can be jazzed up with mushrooms. Knowing the difference between where fresh or frozen mushrooms will work perfectly fine, will make a world of difference.
Knowing the perfect list of meals that can use and benefit from mushrooms will make your cooking much easier.
Use Frozen Mushrooms With These Meals
- Baked Meals: Frozen mushrooms are perfect to put into baked meals. The water content quickly melts when thrown in and the flavors of the surrounding sauces quickly get absorbed by the mushrooms. These meals allow the mushrooms to become cooked slightly faster, meaning they are unsusceptible to becoming mushy.
- Pies: One of the best pies you can have is a chicken and mushroom pie and using frozen mushrooms will barely be noticed. This is because of the intense heat that happens to the filling of the pies during the baking process.
- Sauces: There are more mushroom sauce recipes than there are mushrooms on this earth. For every one of them there will be some mashing, grilling, blending, or mixing. Using frozen mushrooms in this type of preparation works perfectly fine.
Use Fresh Mushrooms With These Meals
- Grilled Garlic Mushrooms: Whether you are using portobello mushrooms or normal mushrooms, adding some olive oil and garlic to them on a grill always makes them taste amazing. And it’s best to always use the freshest possible mushrooms when making this type of side dish.
- Pasta: Seeing as all pasta dishes are fresh foods, having your mushroom frozen could be counterproductive to the taste you are trying to create. Fresh mushrooms always taste better when you are making a pasta dish.
- Salads: This is one of the most obvious choices. Because salads are traditionally served raw adding frozen mushrooms to your salad won’t taste good. In addition, it will leave a negative impression on your guests, so it’s best to stay fresh.
- Fresh Dishes: Any dish that has a mixture of fresh ingredients will mean your mushrooms should be as fresh too. Skimping and cutting corners will affect the taste a lot more than you can imagine and make your meals less desirable.
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Read Next – More Food Storage
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing Mushrooms
- Texas Agricultural Extension Service: Home Food Storage
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D
- USDA: Freezing and Food Safety
- Wiley Online Library: Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables ll. Vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin E, minerals and fiber
- Wiley Online Library: Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds