Mushrooms are one of those ingredients that it is all too easy to take for granted, and the flavorsome shiitake mushroom deserves more appreciation!
The shiitake is one of the most popular mushroom varieties in the world, and many of us have a stash of dried shiitake on our pantry shelves.
So, how do you store shiitake mushrooms to keep them in the best condition? The best storage method for shiitake mushrooms depends on whether you have fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms. Fresh shiitake mushrooms will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week, while dried shiitake mushrooms can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to nine months.
Let’s take a look at the best methods for storing shiitake mushrooms, both fresh and dried!
What Are Shiitake Mushrooms?
Shiitake mushrooms are a key ingredient in Chinese cuisine and have rapidly become popular all around the world.
Also known as black mushrooms, these flavor-packed mushrooms are sold fresh but more commonly purchased in their dried form.
Don’t be misled by the name black mushroom, as shiitake mushrooms can be a range of brown shades, and even turn slightly gray when dried.
The reason that shiitake mushrooms are so popular is because of their intense umami flavor profile, bringing a savory richness to the food.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms are milder than the dried form, with the latter having a slight hint of smokiness.
Shiitake mushrooms are sold as whole mushrooms, or you can buy them sliced or just the caps. The cap is umbrella-shaped and darker than the stems, with a more intense flavor.
If you are fortunate enough to live near an Asian food store, you might find many different types of shiitake mushrooms on sale.
This is because they are classed according to their quality. To get the very best shiitake mushrooms, look for “donko” or “huagu” varieties, which are the thickest and meatiest options.
What Are Shiitake Mushrooms Used For?
Shiitake mushrooms may be more expensive than their counterparts, but they are packed full of benefits both in terms of flavor and nutrition.
For centuries, shiitake mushrooms have been used in traditional Asian healing, utilizing their health benefits. They are also highly prized for their intense flavor, which adds an earthy and meaty twist to vegetarian dishes.
You will find shiitake mushrooms on the ingredient list of a huge proportion of Asian recipes, but their popularity has spread around the world and they can now be found in many other cuisines too.
They are widely used in Italian dishes such as pasta and risotto, and are often included in stuffing, soups, and sautés.
In Chinese cooking, dried shiitake mushrooms are normally preferred over fresh. This is because they have a stronger flavor and aroma, which works well in stir-fries and soups.
The texture of dried shiitake mushrooms is chewier than the fresh form, but the hard texture softens when they are reconstituted.
To reconstitute dried mushrooms, they are soaked in water. This can be in hot water for around 20 minutes, but most cooks prefer to extend the time to at least one hour.
Some traditional Chinese chefs insist that they should be soaked overnight to give the best results.
No matter what method you use, the dried mushrooms should be weighed down with a plate to keep them submerged in the water.
Once reconstituted, strain the mushrooms to remove sand and dirt. Don’t throw away the water though, as this makes an amazing stock for broth and soup!
Fresh mushrooms are much easier to prepare and can be quickly rinsed in cool water or wiped with a damp cloth.
The stems should be removed, as they are very tough. Again, these can be used to make a delicious stock, so don’t throw them away!
Whether you’ve got fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, you’ll want to store them in the best possible way to keep them in peak condition.
Let’s find out everything you need to know about storing shiitake mushrooms!
What Is The Best Way To Store Shiitake Mushrooms?
The best way to store shiitake mushrooms depends on whether you have fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms will stay fresh in the refrigerator for around 1 week if they are stored in the correct conditions.
Dried shiitake mushrooms can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to nine months. They will need to be sealed in an airtight container to keep them in peak condition and preserve the flavor.
How To Store Shiitake Mushrooms
Want to keep your shiitake mushrooms in the best possible condition? Follow these step-by-step instructions, and you’ll find there isn’t mush-room (sorry!) for error!
Step By Step Guide To Storing Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms
Mushrooms are fussy things and can deteriorate very quickly if stored incorrectly. This step-by-step guide will help you to keep your shiitake mushrooms fresh for up to one week.
- Remove your fresh shiitake mushrooms from their packaging.
- Gently brush any dirt from the mushrooms—they do not need to be immaculate, but any lumps of soil should be broken away. Avoid washing the mushrooms, as they will soak up water.
- If you do find you have to wash the mushrooms, leave them to dry on a kitchen cloth before storing them in the refrigerator.
- Check the mushrooms for any bruised or moldy spots. These should be discarded.
- Wrap the shiitake mushrooms in enough paper towels to cover them completely.
- Place the wrapped mushrooms inside a paper or cloth bag. Avoid using plastic bags for mushrooms, as they will cause the mushrooms to deteriorate faster.
- Pop the bag into the vegetable box of your refrigerator. They should stay fresh and good to use for up to 7 days, but check them daily for any deterioration and remove any mushrooms that have started to discolor or turn moldy.
Step By Step Guide To Storing Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Dried shiitake mushrooms are popular not only for their intense flavor but also for their long shelf life. Drying mushrooms means we can enjoy them all year round, not just when they are in season.
If you’ve bought a bag of dried mushrooms from the store, here is the best way to store them:
- An unopened bag of shiitake mushrooms can be stored in a cool, dark place such as the pantry shelves. Most dried shiitake mushrooms have a shelf life of around 9 months, but check the packaging to be sure.
- Once you’ve opened a bag of shiitake mushrooms, you’ll need to store it differently to keep the mushrooms in peak condition.
- For best results, you need to keep your dried shiitake mushrooms away from air and moisture. There are a few options you can use:
- Reseal the original packaging with a food bag clip.
- Transfer the mushrooms to an airtight ziplock bag.
- Put the open bag of mushrooms into a small airtight container.
- Store the mushrooms in a cool, dark place. Exposure to warmth, light, and air will cause them to deteriorate quickly.
Dried shiitake mushrooms should last for up to 9 months if stored in this way.
What Other Methods Can Be Used To Store Shiitake Mushrooms?
If you’re lucky enough to have an excess of fresh shiitake mushrooms, you may find it a struggle to use them all within a week! Luckily, there are a few things you can do to extend the useful life of your fresh shiitake mushrooms:
How To Freeze Shiitake Mushrooms
Freezing shiitake mushrooms is a quick and easy way to extend the shelf life of fresh mushrooms. For the best results, shiitake mushrooms should be cooked before freezing.
Prepare the fresh shiitake mushrooms as you would for any recipe—wash them, remove any damaged parts and the stalks, and slice as you wish.
Lightly fry the mushrooms in oil or butter for 2-3 minutes, until they are tender and soft. Allow them to cool completely, then pop them into an airtight container or ziplock bag.
Shiitake mushrooms can be stored for up to 6 months. They should be used straight from the freezer without defrosting and can be added directly to your recipe in this form.
How To Dry Shiitake Mushrooms
Drying mushrooms is much more straightforward than many people realize, and this method will keep your excess shiitake mushrooms in a usable state for many months.
Shiitake mushrooms can be dried on a warm sunny windowsill, or to speed up the process they can be dried in a low oven or a dehydrator.
Make sure they are completely dry, then pop them into an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Check the mushrooms regularly for any sign of deterioration.
How To Pickle Shiitake Mushrooms
Fresh shiitake mushrooms can be pickled, and this is a great method to make use of an excess of mushrooms.
Pickling adds a whole new dimension of flavor to mushrooms, and you can play about with the pickling ingredients to suit your tastes.
Try adding a range of garlic and herbs to your pickle marinade, or for a different twist mix in some chili peppers and whole peppercorns. Pickled shiitake mushrooms taste great when served as antipasti or on a charcuterie board.