You either love mushrooms or hate them.
Personally, I love mushrooms, so I always have a carton or two in the fridge at any given time. In their raw form, they make a great addition to salads, wraps, and sandwiches. They can also be added to omelets, soups, stews, and sauces for extra heartiness, or sauteed with oil and seasonings for a savory snack.
Let’s not forget the magical transformative properties of adding mushrooms as a pizza topping.
If you enjoy these delightfully edible fungi as much as I do, then you’ve probably encountered the bane of any mushroom lover’s existence: spoiled mushrooms. During my young adult years, I learned quickly that keeping mushrooms fresh is an exact science. Luckily, science isn’t all that hard!
Health Benefits Of Mushrooms
Like many other vegetables, mushrooms are a great source of fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. They are also one of the only non-animal sources of vitamin D and protein available to us. On top of their health benefits, mushrooms happen to be delicious. Therefore, there’s no such thing as too many mushrooms!
Unlike many vegetables, mushrooms require a little extra knowledge to consume safely. There are many species of edible mushrooms that are nutritious and taste great. There are just as many species that are poisonous, resulting in symptoms like cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Eating a spoiled mushroom is just as likely to make us feel sick.
What Happens When Eating A “Bad” Mushroom
A “bad” mushroom can either be a foraged toxic mushroom or a spoiled, store-bought mushroom. Toxic mushrooms foraged in the wild can cause everything from upset stomach to severe gastrointestinal distress. In the case of the infamous death cap mushroom, it can even lead to death if the mushroom poisoning isn’t treated. So unless you’re an expert, the only way to ensure your mushrooms are 100% safe is to consume ones you’ve purchased at the store.
For most healthy people, a store-bought mushroom that’s gone bad will cause nothing more than some indigestion-like symptoms. Still, we all want to avoid making ourselves sick, right? To enjoy the full benefits of mushrooms, you should eat them well before they have a chance to turn. You should also ensure they are stored properly in the right environment. In this day and age, the best place to keep your mushrooms after purchasing them is in the refrigerator.
How Long Do Mushrooms Last in the Fridge?
Whole mushrooms can stay fresh in the refrigerator for seven to ten days. Sliced mushrooms can stay fresh for four to seven days. To maximize freshness, it’s best to store them inside a resealable plastic or paper bag.
Cooked mushrooms can be kept in the fridge for three to seven days. If you plan on keeping cooked mushrooms longer than a week, it would be better to freeze them in a freezer-safe container. Once frozen, expect them to stay good for up to eight months. Just keep in mind that they’ll lose more flavor the longer they remain frozen.
Dried mushrooms can be kept in the pantry in an airtight container for a year or more. Once rehydrated, they can be kept in the fridge for three to seven days.
Best Way To Store Mushrooms
The best way to stretch the shelf life of your mushrooms is to store them in ideal conditions. They should be stored in a cool, dry place, making your refrigerator the perfect home for your fungi. Try to keep them out of the vegetable crisper, which can trap humidity and increase the rate of spoilage. Their porous flesh can absorb odors and flavors, so mushrooms should also be kept away from any pungent foods.
If you find yourself with more mushrooms than you can use in a timely fashion, freezing them will be better than refrigerating them. Always clean and cook your mushrooms before freezing them. Once fully cooked, you can portion and freeze your mushrooms in a freezer-safe container or double-bagged in resealable, plastic bags.
Hint: for the best flavor, vacuum seal or flash freeze the cooked mushrooms before placing them in the freezer.
How To Tell If Mushrooms Have Gone Bad
Hopefully, you’ve learned how to store your mushrooms properly to keep them fresh for as long as possible. Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop time, and all mushrooms will spoil eventually. The time it takes can vary on many factors, including the brand and setting of your refrigerator, storage method, elevation, and more.
Signs of a Rotten Mushroom
It’s great to have a general idea of how long mushrooms can keep in the fridge, but you should also regularly examine them for signs of spoilage. The signs you should keep an eye out for are:
- Slimy texture
- Wrinkly texture
- Strong odor
Signs of a Still-Edible Mushroom
Some mushrooms show signs of “pre-spoilage,” which means they are losing their freshness but still viable to eat. Mushrooms at this stage should be used or eaten right away. These signs are:
- A few dark spots
- Overall darkening color
- Two weeks have passed since the purchase
Use your best judgment when examining your mushrooms. If your two-week-old mushrooms have a few brown spots but show no sliminess or foul odor, they are probably safe to eat. On the other hand, if they have any of the surefire signs of spoilage, you should just skip eating them altogether and throw them away.
Across all cultures, mushrooms are one of the world’s most popular and exciting ingredients to cook with and eat. However, they’re only good when they’re at their freshest, ripest state.
If you find yourself tempted by the mushroom display at the supermarket, there’s no need to feel intimidated. As long as you follow the best practices for buying and eating mushrooms outlined above, you can eat all the mushrooms you could ever want.