To maximize texture and flavor, mushrooms should ideally be used fresh.
That said, sometimes it’s not possible to use all of the mushrooms you bought before they go bad.
To keep mushrooms longer, you can freeze them. However, it’s important to understand how freezing may affect their quality.
This article reviews how freezing affects mushrooms, as well as the best ways to freeze them to preserve their flavor and texture as much as possible.
Most fresh mushrooms last for about 1 week in the refrigerator before they start showing signs of nearing their expiration date, such as becoming soft, brown, or even slimy.
While you can freeze mushrooms, keep in mind that this can negatively affect their quality.
While freezing doesn’t affect the calorie, fiber, or mineral content of foods, it can reduce the content of water-soluble vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Keep in mind that fresh produce also loses nutrients over time (
Texture can likewise be affected. While you can freeze raw mushrooms, given their high water content, they can become mushy when thawed. This can work for soups, casseroles, or blended dishes, but you may not want squishy mushrooms for other things.
Fortunately, some pre-freezing preparation methods can help mushrooms maintain their freshness, texture, and nutrients.
Freezing mushrooms can increase their shelf life and reduce food waste. However, the process may negatively affect their nutrient composition, texture, and flavor.
The fresher mushrooms are when you freeze them, the better they’ll keep in the freezer. Fresh mushrooms have a firm texture and pleasant earthy smell. Plus, they’re free of mushy or dark spots.
Sometimes the best place to purchase fresh mushrooms is at your local farmer’s market, but you may also find locally grown mushrooms at your grocery store.
Before freezing mushrooms, brush off any visible dirt. Many people are tempted to wash mushrooms before freezing them, but this tends to make them mushier when cooked.
If you choose to freeze the mushrooms raw, trim their stems and place them in a freezer-safe plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing the bag and placing it in the freezer.
If you don’t want to freeze raw mushrooms, below are two recommended methods for preparing them prior to freezing.
Steam blanching is a quick cooking process that helps preserve produce before it’s frozen. It works by destroying enzymes that can increase how quickly foods spoil (
Blanching times vary depending on the size of the mushroom, so it’s a good idea to either sort them by size or cut them into similar-sized chunks before steaming.
To prevent discoloration during the blanching process, first soak your fresh mushrooms in a mixture comprising 2 cups (480 mL) of water and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of lemon juice for 5–10 minutes.
Alternatively, you can steam your mushrooms using a mixture of 4 cups (960 mL) of water and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of lemon juice.
To steam blanch your mushrooms, bring a pot of water to a boil and place a steamer basket inside. Add the mushrooms to the basket and let them steam for 3–5 minutes.
Then, remove the mushrooms and place them immediately into a bath of ice water for the same amount of time that you steamed them. Strain the water, place the mushrooms in airtight, freezer-safe bags, and store them in the freezer.
Sautéing is a method of dry heat cooking that uses a small amount of fat and relatively high temperature to soften and brown food quickly.
In a large skillet, add fresh mushrooms and a small amount of hot oil or butter and bring to medium-high heat. Cook them for approximately 5 minutes, until almost fully cooked. The mushrooms should become tender but not squishy.
Remove your mushrooms from the skillet and place them on a paper towel or plate to cool. Once thoroughly cooled, place them in an airtight, freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer.
Frozen mushrooms prepped using any of these methods can be used in many ways. They work best if added to dishes that will be cooked rather than eaten cold.
You can freeze mushrooms raw, or prepare them for freezing by first steam blanching or sautéing them to help preserve qualities like nutrition, flavor, and texture.
Most frozen mushrooms will last in your freezer for 9–12 months.
Frozen mushrooms are most suitable for dishes that will be cooked, such as soups, casseroles, or stews, or as a pizza topping.
You can also add frozen mushrooms to dishes that need to cook but not in the oven, such as pasta, rice, or quinoa, by adding them to the grain while it boils and cooks.
If you aren’t making a dish that will cook for long enough to thoroughly heat and cook the frozen mushrooms, you can thaw them first by transferring them to the refrigerator overnight to soften.
You can keep mushrooms in your freezer for up to 12 months. They can be added to dishes you’re going to thoroughly cook. Alternatively, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator until softened enough to use.
Mushrooms can be frozen to prolong their shelf life and reduce food waste, especially if you’ve purchased more mushrooms than you can use at one time.
While freezing mushrooms may cause some nutrient losses and texture changes, these are slight and still allow the mushrooms to be used in many ways when you’re ready. This makes freezing mushrooms a good option, as long as they are properly prepped.
Mushrooms can either be frozen trimmed and raw, steam blanched, or quickly sautéed and cooled before being placed in an airtight, freezer-safe bag.