Pennsylvania is a major producer of mushrooms. According to the Mushroom Council, white button mushrooms with a mild flavor make up 90% of mushrooms consumed in the United States. Light brown to rich brown capped cremini mushrooms (also known as baby bells) have a richer, deeper flavor than white mushrooms.
Fresh mushrooms can be stored in their original package or in a breathable paper bag for up to a week in the refrigerator. Mushrooms are low in calories and fat, and are a good source of B-complex vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
Mushrooms can be canned, frozen, dried, or soaked as a pickle.
Choose brightly colored mushrooms, from small to medium size. Do not preserve wild mushrooms. The toxins of poisonous species of mushrooms are not destroyed by drying or cooking. Only an expert can differentiate between poisonous and edible varieties.
Instructions for freezing mushrooms are as follows. Choose fresh mushrooms and arrange them by size. Wash well with cold water. Don’t soak them. Trim the ends of the stems. If the mushrooms are larger than 1 inch in size, slice them or cut them into quarters. Mushrooms must be cooked before freezing; Either steam it or heat it in fat to stop enzyme reactions. Steamed mushrooms keep longer than those heated with fat, but fried mushrooms have more flavor. It is best to freeze the tray before packing.
To steam the mushrooms, pre-treat them by dipping the mushrooms in a solution containing 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1-1/2 teaspoon of citric acid in a pint of water. This helps maintain its color. Then steam the whole mushrooms for 5 minutes; Buttons or quarters, 3-1/2 minutes, and slices, 3 minutes. Cool immediately, drain and pack, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal and freeze.
An alternative method for freezing mushrooms is to heat small amounts of mushrooms in butter, ghee, or olive oil in an open frying pan until almost cooked. Cool in the air or place in the pan where the mushrooms are cooked in cold water. Fill them in containers, leaving a space of 1/2 inch. Seal and freeze.
Mushroom canning and pickling
For canning and pickling, the mushrooms should have short stems, a taut veil (unopened lids) and not change color. Since mushrooms are a low-acid food, care must be taken to control the growth of spoilage organisms – especially Clostridium botulinum. Unpickled mushrooms must be processed in pressure canning.
The instructions for canning mushrooms are as follows. trim stems; Soak in cold water for 10 minutes to remove dirt. Wash it in clean water. Leave the small whole; larger pieces. Cover with water in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Fill them hot into pint or pint jars, leaving a space of 1 inch. You can add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to pint jars or 1/2 teaspoon salt to pint if desired. For better color, add 1/8 teaspoon (375 milligrams) of ascorbic acid per pint. Fill the jars 1 inch from the top with boiling water. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jar. Adjust lids and process for 45 minutes in a dial gauge pressure canning at 11 lbs. pressure or in a weighted gauge pressure canning at 10 lbs. Make the following adjustments for higher elevations: On a dial gauge tray at altitudes from 2001 to 4,000 feet, process at a pressure of 12 pounds; between 4,001 and 6,000 feet, and 13-pound pressure treated; Over 6000 feet, pressure treated 14 lbs. In weighted gauge pressure canning at altitudes greater than 1,000 feet, process at a pressure of 15 pounds.
Pickled mushrooms should contain adequate amounts of vinegar and/or bottled lemon juice to control the growth of C. botulinum. It is very difficult to use oil in canning recipes, because the oil can surround the spores of C. botulinum, allowing it to produce botulism toxin that can cause serious illness. A recipe for canning marinated whole mushrooms can be found on the website of the National Home Preservation Center.
Dried mushrooms are great for camping trips and can easily be seasoned into soups, sauces, and casseroles. (Think about skillet casseroles if you’re camping.) Tips for drying mushrooms: Scrub mushrooms well. Get rid of any hard wood stems. Cut the thin stems into short sections. Do not peel young mushrooms. Peel the large mushrooms and cut into 1/4-inch slices. It is not necessary to boil mushrooms quickly to dry. Place in a dryer at 125 F and dry until crisp. This may take 8 to 10 hours. When the mushrooms have cooled, store them in an airtight container or bag. Dried mushrooms absorb moisture from the air and become limp and spoil if they are not in a completely steam-proof container.
If you have questions regarding food preservation, a housekeeping expert is available to answer questions Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., by calling 717-394-6851 or writing Penn State Extension, Lancaster County, 1383 Arcadia Road, Room 140, Lancaster, PA 17601.
This well-preserved news column has been prepared by Penn State Extension.