You know you are on a roll when you’re out mushroom hunting and you find so many that you start wondering whether there is a way for preserving mushrooms. If only I had more of those days myself.
Seriously, it feels like winning the lottery. This also usually happens when out mushroom hunting alone, with no one to share your wonderful fortune with.
But if you happen to hit the jackpot and discover more mushrooms than you know what to do with, don’t be too concerned. The answer is a simple one, and I will show you how. Preserving mushrooms is quite simple and doesn’t take a lot of equipment or special skills. Most households will already have what’s needed.
To be fair for everyone else, though, please only take enough mushrooms that you will genuinely use or store.
Taking mushrooms to fill your own basket, reduces the amount left for others and nobody should take more than they realistically use.
So please remember other mushroom hunters and the excitement of finding those delectable delights. By not taking them all, you are helping keep the excitement alive.
Why Preserving Mushrooms is Good
Not everybody realizes that mushrooms don’t grow year-round. Unlike those grown commercially and purchased from supermarkets, a lot of mushrooms grow wild.
These wild-grown mushrooms have specific growing seasons, meaning they don’t always become available.
For some of these mushroom varieties, the season is only a few weeks of the year. It means that for 90% of the time, those varieties don’t exist.
That makes for some very serious hunting when they come into season, let me tell you. Morel hunters stalk many forests hoping to get their fingers on some of these prized specimens.
A brilliant way around this problem is to find enough supply and then get to preserving mushrooms so you’ll have some on-hand the year-round. Below are several ways you could do this and they work great, keeping the specimens handy for whenever you choose to use them.
Simple Methods for Preserving Mushrooms
Method #1: Drying Mushrooms
The first method used for preserving mushrooms is drying. Whilst there are 3 distinct ways to do this, there is one I don’t recommend. The 3 ways to dry mushrooms are
- In your oven
- Using a dehydrator
- Air-drying them
Whilst they are all good methods, I prefer to use a purpose-built dehydrator for the job. The oven is not a good method to use, simply because the final product may end up more cooked than dried out.
You remember that they design an oven to generate very high temperatures. That causes a problem when wanting to dry mushrooms because to do the job, you need only warm temperatures.
An oven doesn’t always burn cold enough and those who will choose this method, leave the oven door slightly ajar. This is to keep the temperature down.
Air drying mushrooms is a great way, as used by our ancestors for thousands of years. Air drying is one way to revisit an ancient practice and get in touch with your own heritage. Simply thread a string through the mushrooms and hang them in a cool and dark corner somewhere.
If you need to keep the dust off them, wrap a paper bag around your mushrooms. The downside to this method is time. It can take a long time, especially if trying this in a humid environment.
A dehydrator is a tried and proven method that works. Be sure to keep similar-sized mushrooms together as drying times may vary otherwise. If needed, slice the mushrooms in half in order to reduce drying times.
One word of caution though. Dehydrators may spread mushroom spores around the room so consider anyone with allergies when using this method.
Method #2: Freezing
Mushrooms keep well in the freezer and this is another method that’s great for preserving mushrooms. But there’s one issue with raw mushrooms that makes them unsuitable for freezing in that form.
They contain a high percentage of water. When frozen, this water destroys the mushroom’s fibers, turning them into mush when thawed.
Be sure to steam the mushrooms for 10 minutes first, blanch them in hot water for a couple of minutes, or even sauté them first. This will eliminate a lot of that juice and makes sure your frozen mushrooms come out in prime condition at the other end.
Method #3: Pressure Canning
While pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning mushrooms, it is not one I favor and for good reason. The times needed vary too much between wild-grown mushrooms and commercially-grown varieties. The results could be questionable when it comes to food safety and I’m not one to take chances.
Whilst many people do, I believe the other 2 methods are far easier, safer, and leave you with a far superior product. But if pressure canning is something you want to try, just be sure to monitor your products every step of the way. Make sure to smell, sample, and keep an eye on the mushrooms.
Now that you know about these 3 methods of preserving mushrooms, here are 5 Cooking Medicinal Mushrooms You Can Start Using at Home.