How to Clean, Store and Preserve Wild Mushrooms

how to preserve wild mushrooms
A basket full of black trumpet mushrooms and funnel chanterelles.

Foraging for edible wild mushrooms in nature is pure joy! You come home after a successful mushroom hunt with a basket full of delicious, fresh mushrooms. That means you can prepare a wonderful home cooked mushroom meal. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find more mushrooms than you can eat right away. That’s why it’s important to know how to store and preserve mushrooms. In addition, the mushrooms should be cleaned properly to be sure not to ruin the quality of the mushrooms and make them keep as long as possible. 

In this blog post, I will go through how to clean, store and preserve wild mushrooms in the best way possible, so you feel comfortable handling your wild mushrooms. 

Cleaning Wild Mushrooms

When to Clean Wild mushrooms?

Mushrooms should always be cleaned, preferably directly at the finding site and again later at home in the kitchen. The reason why it’s a good idea to clean mushrooms right away is that when you put a dirty mushroom in the basket together with the other mushrooms, the dirt will spread around and make it even harder to remove when you get home. 

How to Clean Mushrooms at the Finding Spot

Once you have found an edible mushroom, pick it up from the ground and carefully cut off the end. You can then gently brush the mushroom with a stiff brush, blowing off any dirt before placing it in the basket. Always check for insects and slugs and cut off areas that have been eaten with the knife. In this way, you’ll bring home clean mushrooms and make it easier when you are going to process them. 

chanterelle foraging
Chanterelle foraging.

How to Clean Mushrooms at Home

Once you have brought the mushrooms home, it is essential that you inspect and clean each mushroom again. When you are out in the woods, many people are too eager to continue the mushroom hunt that the cleaning process of the mushrooms often goes a bit too fast. Therefore uninvited insects and dirt usually still sit on the mushrooms. 

So be sure to check each mushroom at home and brush it and cut away bad parts. There are many myths about whether or not you should wash or rinse mushrooms. I personally rinse some mushrooms if they are very dirty, and it is difficult to get the dirt off with a brush. 

Should Mushrooms be Washed or Rinsed in Water?

Mushrooms can quickly be rinsed in water if they are very dirty. In general, it is best not to, but if you follow the rules below your mushrooms will be completely fine: 

  • Give the mushrooms a quick rinse under running water, don’t let them soak. If you let them soak, they will become soggy. 
  • Make sure to pat dry the mushrooms directly after the rinse so the mushrooms don’t soak up any water. 
  • It is best to wait to rinse the mushrooms if you are not going to cook them right after.

It is way better for the cooking process, the quality of the mushrooms and structure, if the mushrooms aren’t soggy. Moreover, if the mushrooms have soaked up water, it is difficult to make them crispy, and they will lose a lot of flavors. 

Can you Clean Mushrooms ahead of Time?

You can definitely clean mushrooms ahead of time as long as you store them properly afterward and make sure that the mushrooms can breathe and aren’t wet. 

Cleaning Dirty Mushrooms

If the mushrooms are very dirty, it can be necessary to rinse them in water. 

Mushroom Cleaning Kit

All cleaning equipment you need to clean your wild foraged mushrooms is simply a hard mushroom brush and a mushroom knife to cut off any infested areas. 

foraged morel mushroom
A morel mushroom.

Storing Wild Mushrooms

Storing Fresh Mushrooms in the Fridge

The best way to keep mushrooms fresh the longest time in the fridge is by placing them whole in an open paper bag or open cardboard box and wrapping a kitchen towel around it. In that way the mushrooms can still breathe and at the same time keep their natural moisture. You can also store them in an airy container or in a paper bag with a damp paper next to the mushrooms so they keep moist. 

Avoid placing the mushrooms in a plastic bag since they can’t breathe and will turn bad in no time. If you choose to cut your mushrooms before storing them in the fridge, remember that they will turn bad quicker than if they are stored whole. 

How long will the Wild Mushrooms Keep in the Fridge?

It is hard to tell exactly how long your foraged mushrooms will keep in the fridge. It all depends on the quality and age of the mushrooms; when they were picked, the type of mushrooms, and if you stored and cleaned them correctly. In general, mushrooms will stay good for up to one week in the fridge and in some cases up to two. Be sure to always smell, feel and look at the appearance of the mushrooms before cooking them. They should not smell bad in any way, and if they become moldy, too soft or soggy, avoid eating them. 

Storing Washed Mushrooms in the Fridge

If you have washed or rinsed your mushrooms, it is super important to dry them completely before you place them in the fridge. If they are wet in the fridge they will become soggy and moldy.

Quick Mushroom Storing Tips

  • Do not store mushrooms at room temperature since they will turn bad quickly. 
  • Store the mushrooms in the fridge at 3-5 degrees Celsius 
  • Mushrooms should not be wet when stored 
  • Mushrooms are best stored whole 
Cleaned chanterelles
Cleaning chanterelles at home.

Preservation of Wild Foraged Mushrooms

If you can’t eat all your foraged mushrooms fresh, preserving them is a good option. Depending on what you are going to use your mushrooms for and which mushrooms you are preserving, you can choose different preservation options. 

When preserving mushrooms, they will keep for several months and in some cases up to years. This allows you to enjoy your mushrooms all year round. 

When to Preserve Mushrooms

You should preserve mushrooms as soon as possible when they are still fresh and firm.  

Drying Wild Mushrooms

One of the most common and easiest ways to preserve mushrooms is by drying them. This can be done in different ways depending on the equipment you have. If you have a dehydrator, you could place the mushrooms on a drying tray and set the dehydrator to around room temperature and max 40 degrees. Then the mushrooms should be given plenty of time to dry so that all the water evaporates from them. If the dehydrator is set to too high a temperature, it will compromise the quality of the mushrooms, and they will become inedible. 

If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can dry the mushrooms on a radiator or in an oven at the lowest heat and plenty of air. If necessary, keep the oven slightly open. 

If the heat is too low, for example if you choose to dry the mushrooms on a line outdoors, the drying process may be too slow. The mushrooms will partially decompose and thus contain many bacteria. 

drying funnel chanterelles
Funnel chanterelles on a drying tray.

Should the mushrooms be dried whole or in slices?

If the mushrooms are not hollow, it can be difficult to dry them, so instead cut them into thin slices. Porcini mushrooms are solid and large, and it is therefore necessary to cut them in slices before drying. Morels, funnel chanterelles and other thin-walled or hollow mushrooms can easily be dried whole. 

How long does it take for the mushrooms to dry completely?

It typically takes up to 24 hours for the mushrooms to be completely dry. It is super important to give them enough time, otherwise they will still contain water and their shelf life will become very short. 

Mushrooms Suitable for Drying

Some of the best and most common mushrooms to dry are morel mushrooms, funnel chanterelles, porcini mushrooms and black trumpet mushrooms. 

Most mushrooms are suitable for drying but avoid drying chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms since they become tough when dried. 

Use of Dried Mushrooms

When the dried mushrooms are to be used, they must first be soaked in water. The thin and hollow mushrooms can be soaked in 20-30 minutes where others need more time. The soaking water can be used as a mushroom bouillon and added to sauces, soups, stews or similar. 

The soaked mushrooms can be prepared as fresh mushrooms, for example in risottos, sauces, soups, pan-fried and much more. 

You can also choose not to soak the mushrooms and instead blend the dried mushrooms and make them into mushroom flour. 

You can find the recipe on how to make morel mushroom powder here.

Dried morels soaking water
Dried morels soaking water.

Freezing of Mushrooms

The best way to store mushrooms in the freezer is by either steam, fry or blanch the mushrooms first. Once they have been cooked, let them cool and place in plastic bags or in sealed containers for up to 6-12 months. Fresh mushrooms shouldn’t be stored raw in the freezer since they contain a lot of water and will therefore lose their structure and flavor once they are defrosted. 

Salting of Mushrooms

Small mushrooms are used whole and larger mushrooms are cut into smaller pieces. 

How to Salt Mushrooms for Preservation

  • Blanch the mushrooms for a few minutes and pour into a colander, rinse the mushrooms in cold water and drain. 
  • Let the mushrooms cool.
  • Then place them in cleaned jars, alternating a thin layer of salt and a layer of mushrooms. About 100 grams of salt are needed for 1 kg of blanched mushrooms. 
  • Make sure the mushrooms are completely covered in liquid, otherwise they will mold. You can put a stone or similar on top to put pressure on the mushrooms. 
  • Store the jars in the fridge or in a cold cellar.

The mushrooms can be used after a few weeks. However, be aware that the mushrooms need to be diluted for 24 hours, and that the water needs to be changed a few times so that they are not too salty.

Note that not all mushrooms are suitable for salting; porcinis for example, become soft. 

Pickling Mushrooms

Pickled mushrooms taste incredibly good as an accompaniment to cold foods such as salads. Use only young, firm mushrooms.

How to Make Pickled Mushrooms

  • Cut the cleaned mushrooms into smaller quarters or slices. If they are small, leave them whole. 
  • Place the mushrooms in a large pot with plenty of water and a tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. 
  • Let the mushrooms boil for 5-10 minutes.
  • Transfer the mushrooms to a colander and let them drip off. 
  • Place the mushrooms into cleaned/sterilized jars with a lid that is airtight. 
  • Prepare the Marinade: As a rule, use twice as much vinegar as water. If you want it sweet, you can add up to as much sugar by weight as there is water. 
  • Now add salt, and spices of your preference. I like to use either: whole garlic cloves, dill, horseradish, thyme, quartered onions, bay leaves, rosemary or oregano.
  • Bring the marinade to a boil and pour it over the boiled mushrooms in the jars. 
  • Optional: Pour vegetable oil on top of the marinade to keep the mushrooms and marinade in place. It will also neutralize the spicy marinade when consumed. 
  • Before closing the jars, let the mixture cool for 30 minutes.
  • The sealed jars are placed in the fridge and will be ready to eat after 3-4 days. The sealed jars can stay good for up to 30-45 days when they are stored properly. 

Thank you so much for reading this blog post on how to clean, store and preserve mushrooms. You can of course use the same instructions for cultivated mushrooms. 

If you are interested in Nordic wild food, feel free to follow us on social media or take a look around our website, which is filled with foraging inspiration and delicious recipes with wild food as the main ingredient. 

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