Are frozen mushrooms as good as fresh?
Frozen Shiitake mushrooms
A friend who grows mushrooms at home sometimes bring some over when he has too many for his family. That's great, except when he brings more than we can use within a few days.
My questions is... and I'd like to share the answer with my friend...
If I freeze mushrooms, will they be as good as fresh when I thaw them and add them to a recipe?
Freezing mushrooms can be a practical way to extend their shelf life, especially if you find yourself with an excess that you – or your friend - can't use immediately.
However, when you freeze and then thaw mushrooms, there will be noticeable changes in their texture and, to a lesser degree, their flavor.
Here's what to expect:
Texture: Fresh mushrooms have a firm texture, but freezing causes the water inside the cells to expand, leading to cell damage. When you thaw frozen mushrooms, you'll notice they become softer and may release more liquid during cooking compared to fresh ones. This is why frozen mushrooms are often better suited for cooked dishes where the change in texture isn't as noticeable, such as stews, soups, or sauces.
Flavor: While the inherent flavor of mushrooms generally remains intact after freezing, you might find that frozen mushrooms have a slightly milder taste than their fresh counterparts. This can be advantageous in recipes where you don't want an overpowering mushroom flavor.
Color: Some varieties of mushrooms can darken slightly after freezing. This doesn't typically affect the taste but might change the dish's appearance.
Steps to Freeze Mushrooms:
If you decide to freeze mushrooms, following these steps can optimize their texture and flavor:
Clean and Prep: Gently clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel or soft brush to remove dirt. Avoid soaking them in water, as mushrooms absorb moisture easily. Slice or chop them if desired, but you can also freeze them whole.
Blanching (Optional but recommended): Blanching mushrooms before freezing can help maintain their color, flavor, and nutritional value. To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil, add mushrooms for 1-2 minutes, then immediately transfer them to ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat them dry.
Freezing: Spread the blanched mushrooms on a baking sheet in a single layer to prevent them from sticking together. Once they're frozen solid, transfer them to freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. This method is known as "flash freezing."
Storage: Label the freezer bags with the date and type of mushroom. Properly stored, frozen mushrooms can last for up to 12 months, but they're best used within 6-8 months for optimal flavor.
Long answer… but I hope it helps!