I don’t know of a single dish containing mushrooms that is not enhanced by their addition. Their silky texture and particular earthly aroma give meals an oomph that is hard to be replaced by other ingredients. They are also an amazing source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of hypertension, among other benefits. And sometimes, we just cooked too much mushroom. So we start thinking… Can you freeze cooked mushrooms? do they freeze well? How long do cooked mushrooms last in the fridge?
You can definitely freeze cooked mushrooms and, in fact, it’s almost mandatory that you cook them before freezing, at least partially. That will ensue a much better preservation of your shrooms and a much more extended lifespan.
Why do we cooked mushrooms should be cooked before freezing? The reason for this lies in the fact that mushrooms contain high levels of water. So they’re susceptible to generate ice crystals. These crystals will destroy the overall cellular structure of the mushroom and render it unappetizing. By cooking them, the mushrooms dry out and become more freezer-friendly.
It’s also important that you don’t immerse them nor wash them in water before cooking. You can remove impurities using kitchen paper, a brush, or a knife.
According to the NCH website, mushrooms can be heated in fat or steamed. After you cook them, you should allow them to cool down, either by leaving them at room temperature for a while or by setting the pan containing the cooked mushrooms in cold water. If you store them right after cooking, you risk thawing the surrounding items in the freezer, as well as increasing the chances of freezer burn! Finally, pack them into airtight containers and place the container into the freezer after sealing. It is recommended that you leave 1/2-inch space between lid and content to prevent freezer burns.
Cooked mushrooms can maintain their texture and flavor better than fresh mushrooms. Whether you steam, fry, blanch, or stew your mushrooms, there is a good chance that their most attractive characteristics will be wholly preserved.
Provided that they are dry enough from the first cooking and they’re not reheated, they may be frozen again. Just be careful not to leave them at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If reheated, the mushrooms should be eaten immediately and not frozen again, since bacteria tends to grow quickly while preparing for further freezing. The flavor and texture will also be affected.
They can last up to 10 days refrigerated at 40º F or below.
If you want to preserve them frozen, they can maintain their optimal quality for up to 10 or 12 months at 0º F or lower in the freezer, although they could theoretically still be consumed after that time.
If you notice a strange odor stemming from them, a darker tone, or a slime around them, it’s imperative that you throw them out.
Cooked mushrooms should not be thawed unless they are completely dehydrated. Even when cooked, there is a good chance that they retain some water, so the moisture released during thawing will render them soggy and mushy (pun intended).
In recipes that require thawed mushrooms or whenever you feel that they might not be cooked correctly in their frozen state, you can defrost them in the fridge. By doing so, moisture is retained and won’t affect the texture as much. Defrosting over the counter or with the microwave is not encouraged!
In most cases, it is advisable that you heat the cooked mushrooms while frozen. They can be tossed into soups, sauces, stews, and other hot recipes. They can also be reheated separately in a pan with butter or oil. When reheating, they should reach an internal temperature of 165º F to kill the remaining bacteria, as the freezer doesn’t kill them, it just deactivates their growth. Frozen steamed mushrooms can also be added to a huge variety of dishes such as pizza, sauteed vegetables, stroganoff, stirred fries, etc.