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Archive for the ‘Vacuum Packing’ Category

Mushrooms are not everyone’s favorite  food but if you love mushrooms you may have wondered,  ” How can I store them for later?”.  Whether you buy them fresh from the store or a vendor or you pick them like we do, you may find yourself wanting to keep some around for later.

Here in the Pacific Northwest varieties of mushrooms are available about 10 months out of the year but specific varieties may only last for a couple of months.  So I did some research on how to keep them around well past their sometimes limited seasons.

The first place a person may look to keep those fungi from going away to soon is the freezer.  If you plop your favorite shroom into the freezer raw you will be disappointed.  When thawed they will best be described as mush.  Inedible mush at that.  So is the freezer out then?  No!  The mushrooms must be sauteed first.  By cooking them, they can be frozen with acceptable results.  There are other methods that may produce a superior result.

Options for preserving mushrooms:

  • Drying
  • Canning
  • Sauteing then freezing

First, it should be stated that not all species of mushroom can be preserved at all.  For those that are of a very high water content they will not tolerate any of these processes.  An example of a species that can’t be preserved is the Shaggy Mane.  It is an abundant mushroom and easy to distinguish.  It does have one of the highest water contents of any edible mushroom.  Making it  delicate and quick to spoil.  Most edible mushrooms can be preserved, however.  Although results will vary from one type to another.

Drying

Mushrooms being prepared for drying should be sliced into small pieces.  The dryer the mushroom species the larger you can leave the pieces.  Similar to how you would want them as an ingredient in a dish.  For drying you can use a dehydrator.  It should be noted though that in drying mushrooms it is more about air flow and less about heat.  Using the oven for example, even on low heat, is not a good option. You aren’t trying to cook the mushrooms.  In fact in a warm dry environment hanging them out in the sun is a great way to preserve them.

After drying the mushrooms,they should be stored so they can’t draw moisture.  Sealing them in a jar or a bag can work fine.  For the best results I recommend vacuum packing.  There are techniques used with both bags and jars that will give good results.

When it is time to use the mushrooms, you can just add them to a moist dish.  If you are using them alone or adding them to a dry dish placing the mushrooms between two moist towels for a few hours will bring them back to their previous glory.

Canning

The mushrooms whould be sliced into small pieces.  The size is really more about making it easy to handle and pack them.   Some  will cook them first (called hot pack) but I have heard and think canning them raw is the way to go.  The canning process will cook them and cooking mushrooms too mush will harm their texture.  You pack the jar full and add about an inch or so of water. To preserve color add ascorbic acid and I use 1/2 tsp of salt in a pint jar.  It is not recomended that any jar larger than a pint be used.  Put the lids on the jars as you would canning anything else.  Put the jars in the canner with the appropriate amount of water.  They should be cooked for 30 minutes at 10-15 pounds of preasure.

These will last years canned and are ready to add to your favorite recipes.

Freezing

Probably not the best choice but if you want to freeze them make sure you saute them first.  The freezing process seems to affect the texture somewhat.  If you find the result tolerable then it is an easy quick way to store your mushrooms.

The sauteing process for mushrooms is a little differnent than with many other items you may wish to saute.  The process is a dry saute using very little fluid, especially in the beginning.  At most a little oil in the pan to keep anything from sticking and whatever spices you like.  The process is a lot like the searing of meat.  After the pieces are sealed up, they will tolerate moisture without harming the texture of the mushroom.  Adding fluids too soon will make them mushy or slimy.

Once the mushrooms have cooled, they can be put in a freezer bag or wrapped in butcher paper and tossed in the freezer.

The longest I would expect out of this would be a few months without freezer burn or other adverse effects on the mushrooms.

For those who love mushrooms being able to keep them around longer is like having Christmas year round.  Okay, maybe I exagerate but I hope these techniques will help you keep your mushrooms around as long as you like.

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