Mushrooms offer a nutritious and versatile alternative to meat. If this is your first time using them in a recipe, you might wonder how long they can stay fresh and how to store any extras. In this simple guide, we give you the answers you need to get the most from your mushrooms.
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Do Mushrooms Go Bad?
Fresh mushrooms do go bad and their quality can deteriorate quite fast. Most of the packaged, store-bought variety does not have a definite expiry date but they lose their freshness with each passing day.
Poor hygiene and exposure to moisture will cause your mushrooms to spoil within a short time. Although refrigeration can extend the shelf life, fresh fungi will start to turn if stored in the fridge for longer than is recommended.
We’ll talk about how to store mushrooms in a bit but first let’s find out about their shelf life.
How Long Do Mushrooms Last?
Mushrooms have a pretty short life span. Their high water content makes them prone to mold, sliminess, and wilting. The storage method will also have a big impact on how long your fungi last.
Mushrooms Shelf Life
Fresh whole mushrooms will keep for 7 to10 days in the refrigerator before they begin to show signs of spoilage. If you prefer yours sliced, expect them to be good for up to a week after which they will begin to lose their freshness.
Cooking and freezing your mushrooms can help to keep them fresher for longer. You should however consume them within a week’s time for maximum flavor.
Lastly, dried mushrooms have the longest shelf life and can keep for up to 3 years if stored properly. If you dry your mushrooms you will not need to refrigerate them; they will be okay in the pantry. Just be sure to store them in a cool, dry environment to minimize contact with moisture, which can cause spoilage.
6 Tips To Tell If Mushrooms Have Gone Bad
Telling apart good mushrooms from bad ones is not as difficult. Here are the classic signs to look out for:
The first thing to check is the presence of a slimy layer on the mushroom. If you leave your fungi out in room temperature or keep them in the fridge longer than the recommended two weeks, they will develop this slimy film. The mushrooms might not be spoilt yet but they definitely will have lost their freshness.
2. Dark spots
Mushrooms that have stayed in the fridge for too long will develop bruises on the surface. They might still be safe to consume so you should use them up before they completely go bad.
Mushrooms that are nearing the end of their shelf-life can lose their water content and develop wrinkles. This typically happens when fungi are left out in room temperature and allowed to dry on their own. It is best to discard mushrooms that look too dry if only because they would have lost that their meaty crunch.
Mushroom that has gone bad will produce a noticeably pungent, fishy smell. This will usually be accompanied by a slimy film and spotting on the surface of the fungi. The distinct smell alone will be enough to convince you that your stash of fungi needs to go.
Check for mold especially in the underbelly of the mushrooms. The high water content in mushrooms combined with improper storage can create the perfect breeding ground for mold. You should toss out the entire bag even if you find mold in just a few of the mushrooms.
6. Purchase date
A quick look, touch, or sniff is usually all you need to know whether mushrooms have gone bad. The final test is how long they have stayed in the fridge. A general rule of thumb is to get rid of mushrooms that have been refrigerated for more than two weeks, especially if all other signs of spoilage are present.
6 Tips To Store Mushrooms
Mushrooms will quickly go bad if they are not well handled or stored properly. Here are a few tips ensure proper storage of your mushrooms:
1. Use the right storage vessel
Fresh mushrooms have high water content so you should be careful with the kind of packaging you store them in. Airtight containers and plastic bags are popular choices for packing food for refrigeration but they are not the best for storing mushroom. This kind of packaging traps a layer of moisture on the surface of the mushrooms and shortens their shelf life.
A brown bag is the best container in which to store fresh mushrooms. The bag will absorb moisture from the mushrooms and prevent them from spoiling too quickly. Just be sure to keep the bag open at the top and not to pack too many mushrooms in there. Your fresh fungi should keep for up to a week if stored in the refrigerator.
Alternatively, you can store mushrooms in the packaging they come in from the store. These are usually designed to allow adequate supply of air while keeping excessive moisture at bay.
2. Store in the proper location
Fresh mushrooms should always be refrigerated. But, where you store them in the fridge makes a big difference. We recommend placing mushrooms in the main compartment of the fridge as opposed to the crisper, which is too moist and will cause the mushrooms to get soggy and eventually rot.
3. Create enough room in the fridge
Try not to put other containers on top of the mushrooms as this will cause bruising and rapid spoilage. Try creating room in your refrigerator to allow proper circulation of cool air, which can help mushrooms keep for longer.
4. Dry bulk mushrooms
If you have plenty of mushrooms on hand and not a whole lot of freezer space, drying is a great way to keep them fresher for longer. Dried mushrooms are as tasty and nutritious as fresh ones.
Start by cleaning the mushrooms and then place them in the oven at 17 degrees for 3-5 hours or until there is no trace of water. Allow to cool before keeping them in an airtight container. Store in the pantry until you are ready to use.
Sometimes, drying is out of the question so freezing is the next best alternative. You should freeze fresh mushrooms as soon as possible—the longer they sit out, the more they deteriorate and freezing will not reverse this process once it happens. We’ll show you how to properly freeze mushrooms in a bit.
6. Observe high standards of hygiene
Because mushrooms do not have an outer skin that can be peeled off, they can easily become contaminated and unsafe to use.
Connoisseurs agree that mushrooms are best stored without washing. So, be sure to clean and dry your hands instead before handling your mushrooms, especially if they are already damp.
We also recommend storing your mushrooms whole. You should never cut, peel or remove the stalk because this causes bruising and drastically shortens the shelf life of fungus.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Mushrooms
Fresh, store-bought mushrooms do not have an expiry date but if they show signs of spoilage they are probably not safe to eat.
Mushroom poisoning is rare but consuming food that has gone bad can increase the risk of stomachache and diarrhea.
Other than that, the only other downside of eating spoilt mushrooms is having to sacrifice the rich, deliciously brothy taste of fresh mushrooms for more chewy, sour and pungent ones.
Even though the risks are not as high, we recommend not eating spoilt mushrooms or those that are more than two weeks old unless they are dried or frozen.
Can You Freeze Mushrooms?
Mushrooms freeze well but the trick is to cook them first before popping them in the freezer. You should never store fresh mushrooms, whole or sliced, in the freezer—this is a sure way to drastically shorten their shelf life. Frozen in this way, mushrooms will get too soggy to enjoy.
So, if you want to freeze your fungus, the first step is to boil or sauté them. Sautéing is an excellent cooking method as it locks in the deep flavors of mushrooms and you can use them in your recipes straight out of the freezer bag.
Once cooked, allow the mushrooms to cool then store in a sealable freezer bags or airtight container. These should keep for seven days to a month depending on factors such as the type of mushroom and temperature in the fridge.
When you are ready to use, simply thaw the mushrooms in the microwave and enjoy!
Mushrooms have a short lifespan and they are meant to be eaten as close to their purchase date as possible. Refrigerate in a brown bag or cook and freeze if you need easy access to fresh, ready-to-eat mushrooms. Remember to err on the side of caution and discard mushrooms that have stayed too long in the fridge or show signs of spoilage.