How to Preserve Mushrooms | Food-and-recipes

Pennsylvania is a major producer of mushrooms. According to the Mushroom Council, the bland-tasting white button mushroom makes up 90% of the mushrooms eaten in the United States. Light brown to rich brown, capped crimini mushrooms (aka baby bellas) have a deeper, earthier flavor than the white button mushrooms.

Fresh mushrooms in their original packaging or in a porous paper bag can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Mushrooms are low in calories and fat and a good source of B-complex vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.

Mushrooms can be canned, frozen, dried, or marinated as pickles.

Choose colorful, small to medium-sized mushrooms. Do not store wild mushrooms; The toxins of poisonous mushroom varieties are not destroyed by drying or cooking. Only an expert can distinguish between poisonous and edible varieties.

Freeze mushrooms

Instructions for freezing mushrooms are as follows. Select fresh mushrooms and sort by size. Wash thoroughly in cold water; don’t soak them. Cut off the ends of the stems. If mushrooms are larger than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, slice or quarter them. Mushrooms should be cooked before freezing; either steam or heat in fat to stop enzyme reactions. Steamed mushrooms keep longer than those cooked in fat, but sautéed mushrooms have more flavor. Freezing the shells before packaging is desirable.

To steam mushrooms, pre-treat them by soaking the mushrooms in a solution containing 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1-1/2 teaspoons citric acid to 1 pint of water. This will help preserve their color. Then steam whole mushrooms for 5 minutes; Buttons or quarters, 3-1/2 minutes and slices, 3 minutes. Cool immediately, drain and package, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Seal and freeze.

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An alternative method for freezing mushrooms is to heat small amounts of mushrooms in butter, margarine, or olive oil in an open skillet until almost tender. Cool in the air or put a pan in which the mushrooms were cooked in cold water. Pack into containers, leaving 1/2 inch air space. Seal and freeze.

Canning and pickling of mushrooms

For canning and pickling, mushrooms should have short stems, dense veils (unopened caps), and no discoloration. Because mushrooms are a low-acid food, care must be taken to control the growth of spoilage organisms – especially Clostridium botulinum. Unpickled mushrooms must be processed in a pressure preserver.

Instructions for preserving mushrooms are as follows. Shorten stems. Soak in cold water for 10 minutes to remove dirt. Wash in clean water. leave small ones whole; cut bigger. Cover with water in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Pack hot in hot half-pint or pint glasses, leaving 1 inch of headroom. If desired, 1/4 teaspoon salt can be added to half-pint glasses or 1/2 teaspoon salt to pint glasses. For enhanced color, add 1/8 teaspoon (375 milligrams) of ascorbic acid per pint. Fill the jars to 1 inch from the top with boiling water. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the edges of the glass. Fit lids and process for 45 minutes in a dial indicator aerator at 11 pounds of pressure or a weighted aerator at 10 pounds of pressure. Make the following adjustments for higher altitudes: Process in a dial gauge at altitudes from 2,001 to 4,000 feet at a pressure of 12 pounds; between 4,001 and 6,000 feet, process at 13 pounds pressure; over 6,000 feet, process at 14 pounds pressure. Process in a weighted gage aerator at altitudes over 1,000 feet at a pressure of 15 pounds.

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Pickled mushrooms must contain adequate amounts of vinegar and/or bottled lemon juice to control the growth of Clostridium botulinum. It is very difficult to use oil in canning recipes because oil can coat C. botulinum spores, allowing them to produce the botulism toxin that can cause serious illness. For a recipe for preserving marinated whole mushrooms, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

dry mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are handy for camping trips and can be easily rehydrated in soups, sauces, and casseroles. (Think of skillets if you’re camping.) Instructions for drying mushrooms: Scrub mushrooms thoroughly. Discard any tough, woody stalks. Cut tender stalks into short pieces. Do not peel small mushrooms. Peel large mushrooms and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Mushrooms do not need to be blanched to dry. Place in a dehydrator at 125 F and dry until brittle. This can take 8 to 10 hours. When the mushrooms have cooled, store in an airtight container or bag. Dried mushrooms will absorb moisture from the air and will become limp and spoil if not stored in a perfectly vapor-tight container.

If you have questions about food preservation, a home economics expert is available Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by phone at 717-394-6851 or by writing to Penn State Extension, Lancaster County, 1383 Arcadia Road, Room 140, Lancaster, PA 17601.

The Well Preserved news column is produced by the Penn State Extension.

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