Mushrooms are an extremely cost-effective way to get good nutrition — vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber— and they have many unique health benefits as well.
But if you cook up a big batch of mushrooms and let them spoil before you can eat them, you’ll miss out on all those benefits!
What are the basic principles of food preservation?
Food spoilage is defined as any changes to the food that renders it unfit for human consumption.
These changes to the food may cause temporary digestive discomfort, or they may simply make the food less appealing (I.e., a brown, overly soft banana).
Food spoils for a few different reasons.
The first reason it may spoil is due to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria or fungi that upsets the normal balance of microbes living in or on the food.
Another reason the food may spoil is due to chemical reactions within the food itself, prompted by endogenous enzymes.
These chemical reactions are completely natural and are inevitable, but they may cause changes to the appearance or texture of the food that makes it less desirable.
Food preservation methods attempt to stave off these spoilage mechanisms in a variety of ways.
For example, it was observed that lower temperatures slow the growth of potentially pathogenic organisms and reduce the activity of endogenous enzymes, which led to the development of refrigeration and freezing as food preservation methods.
The methods listed above are all strategies to mitigate the overgrowth of microbes or the action of endogenous enzymes.
How long do cooked mushrooms last in the fridge?
After cooking mushrooms, there are certain storage methods you can use to delay spoilage even further.
First, experiment with the type of packaging you use to store your mushrooms.
Storing them in breathable packaging that allows for some evaporation of moisture will likely allow them to last longer.
Some people recommend storing mushrooms in a simple paper bag, with the top rolled up loosely and plenty of air allowed to circulate in the bag.
Next, avoid storing your mushrooms in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Instead, store them on a shelf.
The crisper drawer will be an environment that is too humid for the mushrooms.
Another tip is to avoid storing the mushrooms near other foods that have strong odors and flavors, as this will affect the taste of the mushrooms once you’re ready to eat them.
How long do cooked mushrooms last in the freezer?
If you’re planning to freeze your mushrooms, the optimal strategy is to cook them first.
You will want to wash and cut your mushrooms, then either steam or pan-fry them.
After cooking, make sure to drain the mushrooms to avoid excess moisture — this will make them spoil more quickly.
Put the cooked mushrooms in a resealable container, then place them in the freezer (ideally with the date of cooking on the outside of the package).
This video provides a good visual breakdown of a few different ways to cook mushrooms prior to freezing them.
How do you know if cooked mushrooms have gone bad?
Eating spoiled mushrooms could cause digestive upset (I.e., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, or pain), due to the overgrowth of pathogenic microbes that have begun to take over the mushrooms.
But if you’re paying attention, you should be able to use your own five senses and avoid eating mushrooms that have spoiled to the point of making you sick.
First, spoiled mushrooms will develop an unpleasant smell.
It’s hard to describe this smell in writing, but you will know it when you smell it.
Fresh mushrooms should naturally have an earthy odor, almost akin to dirt (this makes sense if you think about where mushrooms grow!).
Next, spoiled mushrooms will have a marked change in texture.
They will start to feel slimy on the outer surface.
Remember — mushrooms are typically about 90% water, so they soak up moisture like a sponge — there shouldn’t be excess moisture or slime collecting on the outside of the mushrooms.
This is a sign of potential bacterial overgrowth.
Finally, there will be a change to the mushrooms’ appearance that tips you off to its freshness, or lack thereof.
When mushrooms start to look bruised or spotty or start to get soft, this is a sign that the spoiling process has begun.
Can cooked mushrooms be frozen?
You can also freeze raw mushrooms if you’ve bought so many that you won’t be able to eat them all before they spoil.
One principle to keep in mind when freezing fresh mushrooms is that they will spoil faster if there is more surface area, so you will want to avoid slicing the mushrooms before freezing them, if at all possible.