While mushrooms work well in all kinds of dishes, like casseroles, soups, and stews, I use them most often in pan-fried ones, especially those that include beef or pork. But no matter how you like your mushrooms, you can easily buy too much for your needs.
Fresh mushrooms are often sold packaged, and a single pack is usually large enough for at least two to three dishes. So if you don’t plan on how you use all of the leftovers within a few days, you will surely find yourself asking questions like: “how long do mushrooms last?” and “how to tell if mushrooms are bad?”. And if those questions have brought you here, you’re in the right place. In this article, we discuss shelf life, storage methods, and signs of spoilage of mushrooms. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on.
Before we begin, you should know that while there are many varieties of mushrooms, like white, portobello, button, enoki, and at least a few others, they are quite the same when it comes to shelf life and storage methods. So pretty much no matter which popular variety you have on hands, the advice below applies to it.
How Long Do Mushrooms Last? How To Store Mushrooms?
Whole mushrooms last about 7 to 10 days refrigerated. That period is, obviously, just a rough estimate, because it all depends on the quality of the mushrooms and how long they sat on the shelf before you’ve bought them. I’ve had ones that lasted two weeks, but also more than once I had a pack that started to grow mold 3 or 4 days after purchase. In other words, you never know for sure. And even if you always choose best-looking, clean and rather large ones from all the packs available, sooner or later you’re bound to get a bad batch.
When it comes to where to store the mushrooms, keep the mushrooms in the refrigerator (1), even if they weren’t refrigerated when sold. Mushrooms at room temperature won’t last longer than a couple of days, so unless you plan on using them right away, the fridge is where they go.
For packaging, mushrooms most often come in plastic containers wrapped with plastic wrap. If that’s the case, consider poking a few holes in the wrap so that the produce can breathe, and the condensation is reduced (1). If you’ve bought them in bulk, store them in a porous bag, or any other container that’s not airtight. And consider putting a paper towel on top to keep them from drying out (1).
If you want to prep the mushrooms ahead of time, store them sliced similarly to how you keep whole ones. They will retain quality for about 5 to maybe seven days.
Once you’ve cooked the mushrooms, they will keep for about a week in an airtight container in the fridge. Note that unlike fresh ones, cooked mushrooms should be sealed tightly, like pretty much all cooked food.
If the given periods are too short for your needs, and you don’t want the produce to go to waste, freezing is an option to consider.
Can You Freeze Mushrooms?
Mushrooms freeze reasonably well, at least if you cook them first. Since you’re most likely cooking them for the dish you’re preparing anyway, you can cook them before freezing instead. This way all you need to do is to defrost them and throw them in when a recipe calls for them. Plus since mushrooms wilt when cooked, they take much less freezer space than fresh ones would.
The easiest way to go about this is to slice the produce and saute in butter and some salt to taste. Keep them on the pan until they are almost done, then let them cool and transfer into an airtight container or a freezer bag. The last thing to do is to throw the prepped mushrooms into the freezer. If you find that helpful, add a label with name and date to the container or bag, so you can easily tell what’s inside.
Thaw the mushrooms overnight in the fridge. If you’re in a hurry, the microwave or the pan is the way to go.
How To Tell If A Mushroom Is Bad?
When it comes to telling if a mushroom is spoiled, the first thing to look for is white mold. That’s true for both fresh and cooked ones. On whole fresh ones, it most often starts to grow on the stem, at least in my experience. Whenever there’s mold on any particular mushroom, I throw it out. Mushrooms are mostly water, so the mold can fairly easily move around without leaving any signs on the surface. Because of that I err on the side of caution and discard them. You can, of course, try cutting out the moldy part, as you do with veggies, but you do it at your own risk. Please note I only discard the moldy specimen, not the whole package.
If there’s no mold, it’s time to assess the overall quality. That means the smell, texture, and how it looks. If there are any dark spots on the cap, it turns wrinkly or is slimy, the produce is past its prime. Same if it smells off, or the whole thing is mushy or is breaking apart when you’re trying to slice it.
Please note that that’s a lot of wiggle room here, and what one person finds still good enough to eat, another might find kind of gross and unacceptable. I, for one, always peel my mushrooms, and find that even if the outer layer of the cap looks pretty bad, the rest is often okay. I also regularly use mushrooms that are somewhat soft and mushy, as they taste just fine in the dishes I cook. In short, unless the produce is in terrible shape, it’s up to you if you use it or discard it.
- Fresh whole mushrooms last about 7 to 10 days, sliced for up to 7 days. If you don’t expect to consume all of the produce within a day or two of buying, refrigerate them.
- Cooked mushrooms last about a week in the fridge appropriately sealed.
- For long term storage, cook the mushrooms first and then freeze them. They are ready to use when defrosted.
- Discard moldy mushrooms. If it’s not moldy, it’s up to you if you find it good enough for cooking or not.