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!
Cooked mushrooms can last for up to 3-5 days (sometimes longer), when stored properly in the fridge.
The ideal way to store cooked mushrooms in the fridge is on a shelf (not the crisper drawer), in a breathable container that allows moisture to escape (a paper bag works well).
What are the basic principles of food preservation?
The basic methods of preserving food include storing at lower temperatures (I.e., refrigeration or freezing), fermenting, canning, pasteurization, and dehydration.
All of these methods are ways of delaying the inevitable process of food spoilage by either obstructing microbial overgrowth or the action of endogenous enzymes.
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?
It’s best to store cooked mushrooms in the fridge, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Depending on the type of mushroom and how they are cooked, they may last for 3-5 days, or even longer, once properly stored in the fridge.
It’s important to learn to detect signs of spoilage even when following the 3-5 day rule — your mushrooms may last longer than 3-5 days, or they could also possibly spoil sooner than 3-5 days.
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?
Freezing is the best way to keep cooked mushrooms edible for as long as possible.
Keep in mind that the longer you freeze them, the more likely it will be that your mushrooms change slightly in flavor or texture (even if they have not gone bad).
The basic rule of thumb is that mushrooms will last for 10-12 months if stored 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?
It will be fairly obvious if mushrooms have gone bad.
There will be changes to the smell, texture, and look of the mushrooms that will clearly tell you that they have started to rot.
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.
At this point, if the mushrooms have yet to develop a rotting smell or a slimy feel, you can probably go ahead and cook the mushrooms and eat them anyway.
Can cooked mushrooms be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze cooked mushrooms to help them last longer.
Frozen mushrooms should last for 10-12 months.
Once your mushrooms are cooked, you will want to drain the leftover liquid and allow the mushrooms to dry off.
Then you can put them in an airtight, sealable container and store them in the freezer.
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.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.