The intense flavor of mushrooms is welcomed in many dishes, whether it’s soup, stew, stuffing, or raw. Mushrooms have a high water content, which makes them quite perishable. They can become soggy quickly when there is too much moisture. Once soggy, the strong flavor becomes weaker. To keep mushrooms fresh, you have to take a few steps:
Look for mushrooms that are firm, plump and moist (not wet). You don’t want it to be dried and shriveled. Also, avoid mushrooms with bruised or discolored patches. The mushroom you want should also be whole and intact, with gills on the underside tightly closed. A potent earthy scent, not sour or fishy smell, is also an indication for freshness.
Store the mushroom unwashed in its original package, paper bag, or slightly opened zip-lock bag. All these packaging materials provide air circulation and allow the mushroom to breathe. The mushroom should have a balanced moisture content and release ethylene gas.
Before cleaning, keep the mushroom whole to minimize the surface area contacting with water. If the mushroom looks quite clean, give it a wipe with a damp paper towel or soft mushroom brush. If there is visible dirt, run the mushroom under the faucet with cold water and clean it gently. After washing, pat the mushroom dry with a paper towel. If you decide to serve mushrooms raw, you can clean them with a dry toothbrush or soft mushroom brush. The brush will get ride of the dirt.
Use the mushroom immediately after cleaning and/or cutting. This is because a mushroom is like a sponge, it can absorb moisture fast, especially when it’s cut. The moisture will reduce the mushroom flavor as well as turn it slimy.