New mushroom cultivators are often so excited to get started on their new hobby that they forget one very, very important piece of the puzzle…
Just what are you going to do with all those mushrooms?!
You might be surprised at how many mushrooms can come on the first flush of your harvest (and the second, and possibly even the third—especially if you’re using our fruiting substrate). Unless you plan on using them all right away while they’re still fresh, which is very unlikely, you’re going to want to plan ahead and consider how you want to preserve them.
In this post on the Monster Mushroom Messenger, the resident blog of the Monster Mushroom Company, we’re going to look at several different ways you can preserve your mushrooms for long term storage and later enjoyment. You have plenty of different options at your disposal and they’re all pretty easy… if you do things correctly.
Let’s learn how to keep those mushrooms of yours safe and sound:
How to Dehydrate Mushrooms for Long-Term Dry Storage
Dehydrating mushrooms is a great way to preserve your harvest. It’s the first technique we’re mentioning here because it’s one of the most popular, tried-and-true methods of preservation—in fact, people have been drying and storing mushrooms long before the invention of the electric dehydrator oven.
Speaking of which, if you have a dehydrator oven, you’re in luck because that’s one of the easiest, quickest ways to preserve your mushrooms. To prepare, make sure that you lay your mushrooms out on the rack so that they aren’t touching. You can cut or slice large mushrooms, but many cultivators prefer the look of large, intact mushrooms—totally possible, but you may have to leave an extra space or two between the racks. Finally, dehydrate for about 12 hours at 120°F.
Once done, feel your mushrooms. They should be crisp and cracker-dry. If they’re excessively bendy or still feel sticky or moist, put them back in the dehydrator for a few hours. If they’re all good, seal them up in an air tight container with a desiccant pack (those little moisture-absorbing bead packs you find in packs of beef jerky). You can also use a vacuum sealer, which will work even better.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, it’s not a big deal—you can still easily dehydrate mushrooms without one. In fact, our All-In-One Mushroom Grow Kit comes with a “low tech”, powerless dehydration system.
The dehydration system is simple to use: place your mushrooms on the included mesh sheets inside the container. Place desiccant packets inside as well (also included). Then wait! The process does take longer than a dehydrator—perhaps a few days for best results—but it’s easy, free, and doesn’t require any electricity. You can then even use the container to store your mushrooms once they’re dried out.
Mushroom Wet Weight vs. Dry Weight – What’s the Difference?
If you’re interested in accurately weighing your harvest, it’s important to know that mushrooms are generally weighed in two different ways. If you’ve been a member of the cultivation community for a while, you may have heard the terms wet weight and dry weight.
Wet weight refers to the weight of fresh mushrooms, and dry weight refers to mushrooms that have been dehydrated. These two weights can be very different, so if you’re trying to get a precise amount of mushrooms, say for a culinary recipe, it’s important to know which kind the recipe is talking about.
Mushrooms, like people, are mostly made up of water. When dehydrated a mushroom might weigh only 8-10% of its total weight when “wet” (fresh)!
How to Freeze Mushrooms the RIGHT Way – Avoid This Common Mistake
Freezing is also a fine way to preserve your mushrooms, but if you’ve ever tried to freeze mushrooms before you know that they must be cooked beforehand. Freezing fresh mushrooms is a bad idea, because when you thaw them out they’ll pretty much just turn to mush. Cooking beforehand prepares the mushrooms for freezing.
The only exceptions to this rule, generally speaking, are hen of the woods and maitake mushrooms, since they have a very high moisture content and are difficult to dehydrate. All other mushrooms should be cooked.
You can prepare the mushrooms in one of several ways, depending on the type and your preference:
Steaming and frying are both fairly straightforward so we’ll assume that you don’t need any additional instructions for them, but some readers might not be familiar with blanching—it’s a preparation technique in which food (in our case, mushrooms) are briefly placed into boiling water for about two minutes, then immediately removed and placed into a bowl or container filled with ice water. Blanching works well because the introduction of extreme heat and cold will help to prevent the loss of nutrients once frozen.
Regardless of how you cook your mushrooms, make sure to let them cool down for half an hour or so before packaging and freezing. This is another case where a vacuum sealer can come in quite handy for added protection. Most frozen mushrooms can keep for up to a full year!
Our Preferred Method of Mushroom Storage is Dehydration – Get Your Drying & Curing Kit Now
Drying your mushrooms is, in our opinion, the best way to preserve them. Dehydration tends to retain the most nutrients out of any preservation method, including freezing (this is true for other foods too).
If you’d like to not only have a successful, easy harvest, but get a free drying and curing kit too, we highly recommend picking up our All-In-One Mushroom Grow Kit!
And if you’re new to mushroom cultivation, be sure to get our free eBook as well:
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