Mushrooms are the versatile fungi that appear in stir fry, veggie burgers, soups, and as an ingredient in countless other tasty dishes. From Italian pastas to Japanese ramen, mushrooms are featured as an earthy veggie with the distinctive taste of umami. We all know how delicious this fungi is, but what if you've bought more than you can use and don't want to waste this treasure trove of nutrients and deliciousness? If this situation arises, can you freeze mushrooms?
Like many vegetables, mushrooms are best enjoyed fresh. However, this isn't always possible, especially when eating foods with a short shelf life. Mushrooms typically last for about a week in the refrigerator, which often isn't enough time to use them all. Freezing food is a great way to prevent food waste and save money on groceries. If you find yourself with mushrooms about to go bad and no time to cook them, you can freeze mushrooms for later use.
While frozen mushrooms are perfectly edible, they will lose some of the nutritional value that makes them so wonderful. The mineral and fiber content won't be affected, but the water-soluble vitamins in mushrooms like folate, niacin and riboflavin will decrease after being frozen.
Another aspect of frozen mushrooms is their texture. Like most foods that are frozen, the texture of the mushrooms will be less appetizing after frozen and thawed. Because of their high water content, raw mushrooms will be mushy after this process. Mushy mushrooms still taste great and will be delicious in soups or casseroles where their texture won't be noticed, but you won't want to sauté them and eat them on their own.
The Fresher the Better!
However, you can prevent some of this mushiness by preparing your mushrooms for freezing. The fresher your mushrooms are when you put them in the freezer, the better they'll be when you take them out. Fresh mushrooms are firm and dry, without any squishy areas or dark spots. Try and go for the freshest mushrooms when deciding to freeze them!
You can freeze raw mushrooms or cooked mushrooms, whichever is most convenient. If you choose to freeze raw ones, first make sure to brush off any visible dirt with your hands. Don't wash them, because this will make their texture mushier in the end.
To freeze raw mushrooms, trim the stems and put them into an airtight freezer bag, which you can find on Amazon. Try to get as much air out as possible to prevent freezer burn, then place the bag in the freezer.
How To Sauté Mushrooms for Freezing
You can also cook your mushrooms first, which will make them ready to go once thawed. This also helps to preserve their nutritional value and flavor. One method for cooking produce before freezing is sautéing.
This involves using high heat and a small quantity of fat to quickly cook food. Cooking your mushrooms without water is a great way to prevent the loss of B vitamins.
To make sautéed mushrooms, place the fresh mushrooms and a small quantity of butter or oil in a large frying pan. Cook them for about 5 minutes, until tender and almost cooked.
Transfer them from the frying pan to a paper towel or plate, and allow them to cool to room temperature before freezing.
For best results, flash freeze your mushrooms. This involves spreading them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and placing them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to an airtight freezer bag and place them into the freezer. Although you can skip the flash freezing step if you're in a hurry, this is the best way to maintain the mushrooms' texture, flavor, and nutrients.
How To Blanch Mushrooms for Freezing
Alternatively, you can steam blanch your mushrooms before freezing. First, cut your mushrooms into similarly sized pieces, since blanching time will depend on size.
Then, soak them in a mixture of water and citric acid, such as lemon juice- 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Leave them to soak for 5-10 minutes. Another option is to skip this step and simply blanch your mushrooms in 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
To steam blanch your mushrooms, prepare a pot of boiling water and place a steamer basket inside. Put the mushrooms inside and allow them to steam for 3-5 minutes.
Then, take them out and immediately transfer your mushrooms to a bowl of cold water for another 3-5 minutes. Strain the mushrooms and flash freeze them if you prefer. Then, place them into airtight freezer bags and put them into the freezer.
Thawing Frozen Mushrooms
You can keep your mushrooms in the freezer for 9-12 months, one of the best perks of freezing mushrooms! Frozen mushrooms are best enjoyed in dishes that will be cooked, like pizza or a casserole. In this case, there's no need to thaw your mushrooms before use, since they will be heated as the dish cooks. Simply take them out of the freezer and put them in your dish.
They can also be added to dishes that will cook on the stove like rice, pasta or quinoa. Just add them in when the water starts boiling. If you're adding them to a dish that won't be cooked or will be cooked for a short period of time, you should thaw them by placing your frozen mushrooms in the fridge overnight. With these tips you'll never have to throw mushrooms away again!