How Do You Properly Store Mushrooms In The Refrigerator?

Mushrooms can elevate a dish unlike any other class of ingredient. The earthy umami flavor and satisfying bite the fungi offer is something that can't be imitated, but as any fan of mushrooms knows, they have to be used up quickly. 

If you notice your mushrooms seem to be degrading quicker than they should, you may want to change up the way you're storing them. Refrigerating them as soon as possible when you get them home is step one because mushrooms will spoil much faster at warmer temperatures. But how you store them in the fridge can go a long way to extending the life of your savory delicacies. 

Instead of tossing the container you bought them in right into the refrigerator, take the mushrooms out and put them in a brown paper bag. Mushrooms are 80 to 90% water, and as they're being stored, they release that moisture. If they are trapped inside a sealed plastic container, the moisture has nowhere to go and accelerates spoilage. A paper bag will help absorb the moisture they release and keep them fresher for longer.

Where you place them in the refrigerator matters

Once you have your mushrooms in a paper bag, you want to consider where they should live inside your fridge. The vegetable crisper is great, but because it traps moisture as well (though to a lesser extent), it too will promote spoilage. You also want to avoid stacking anything on top of your mushrooms. They are delicate produce and can't be put under much pressure before they break and bruise.

The best spot to place your mushrooms is on the bottom shelf, near the back, if possible. Generally, this is the coldest spot in your fridge, which will help extend the life of your prized mycelia. Just verify the paper bag isn't blocking any air vents in the back of the refrigerator before letting them chill.

As an added layer of protection, some people put a paper towel inside the bag for even more moisture absorption. When utilizing this method, double-check the paper towel every couple of days to see if it's damp. If the towel becomes moist, replace it with a fresh, dry one to prevent any humidity from accumulating. However, even with this additional layer of protection, if you're mushrooms aren't of good quality in the first place when you bring them home, all the paper towels and bags in the world aren't going to do much to save them.

What to watch for

As always with mushrooms, picking the freshest of the bunch is the most important first step. Look for mushrooms with a full, healthy color that are free of any sliminess. Because mushrooms are so absorbent, they don't get washed before hitting the store shelves, so you need not worry about searching for the cleanest mushrooms available. The amount of dirt on the mushrooms won't affect their quality if you wash them before use.

If stored properly, mushrooms should last for about a week. When you start noticing signs of spoilage like sliminess or sponginess, it's too late to use them in a meal. However, if they only have a couple of dark-colored spots on them, they should be fine, but it's a sign they should be used soon. You can freeze mushrooms that need to be used quickly by cooking them and then letting them cool at room temperature. Once they're cooled, you can safely store them in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to a year.