Oyster mushrooms can add flavor and texture to a wide range of dishes. But can you store them long term without harming their texture? Yes! Discover how to freeze oyster mushrooms so you can enjoy them at any time.
I love substituting oyster mushrooms for more common varieties like porcini or button mushrooms when cooking. But they can be a bit more expensive. So I’m usually hesitant to simply throw out any leftovers. The answer? Freeze them!
In this post, I’ll cover two methods for freezing oyster mushrooms so they don’t turn out soggy or mushy. And I’ll reveal whether you need to defrost them when you’re ready to use them.
What are oyster mushrooms?
With a delicate, tender texture and mild earthy flavor, oyster mushrooms (or Pleurotus ostreatus) get their name from their distinctive shape and color. That color can range from light gray to brown on the broad caps of the mushrooms, which resemble an oyster.
The flesh and gills have a firm consistency which can add some meatiness to dishes. And they’re a good source of protein. Together, their taste and texture make them a versatile ingredient that can work in everything from soups to pizzas.
How to freeze oyster mushrooms
You have a couple of options when it comes to freezing oyster mushrooms. You can cook them first or you can freeze raw mushrooms. Here are step-by-step instructions for both methods.
Freezing cooked oyster mushrooms
Raw oyster mushrooms have a high water content. That can sometimes make them mushy once they thaw out after freezing. So the best way to preserve their texture is to cook them first.
1. Clean your mushrooms. Using a damp paper towel, gently remove any dirt or debris.⚠️ Don’t leave them in a bowl of water to clean them, as they can easily absorb excess moisture and become soggy.
2. Trim off the ends (optional). The stems can often have a tough texture, so you can remove them by carefully cutting off the ends. However, if you plan to use them in soups, stews, or sauces, you can opt to leave them on for additional flavor.
3. Chop or slice. Using a sharp knife, chop or slice the fresh mushrooms to your desired size. Or you can simply tear them gently.
4. Sauté. Melt some butter in a pan and add the mushroom slices. Sauté for 6-8 minutes until tender and browned. Then let cool.
5. Flash freeze. This will help retain the mushrooms’ flavor and texture. And will keep them from sticking together later in the freezing process. Place the cooked mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place them in the freezer for 30 minutes.
6. Transfer to an airtight container. Once they’ve frozen, move them from the baking sheet to resealable freezer bags or an airtight container to help prevent freezer burn.
7. Date and freeze. Add a date label to the plastic bag or container so you know when you froze them. Place on an even surface in the freezer. Be careful not to set anything on top that might crush them.
Freezing raw oyster mushrooms
To freeze raw oyster mushrooms, do steps 1 and 2 above to clean and trim them. Then continue to step 3.
1. Clean your mushrooms. Using a damp paper towel as noted above.
2. Trim off the ends (optional). As noted above.
3. Chop, slice, or tear (optional). You can freeze oyster mushrooms whole, but chances are you’re going to slice them before using them in a dish, so doing it before you freeze them can save you some time.
4. Blanch (recommended). You may skip this step, but blanching the mushrooms prior to freezing can help preserve their flavor, color, and texture. To do it, add the mushrooms to a boiling pot of water. After 1-2 minutes, quickly remove them and place into a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Then drain well.
5. Flash freeze the slices. Freeze mushrooms on a baking sheet for 30 minutes, then place them in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container (if you froze the mushrooms whole, simply place them in a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag).
6. Date and label the containers.
Whether raw or cooked, oyster mushrooms will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.
How to thaw frozen oyster mushrooms
It’s actually best not to thaw frozen oyster mushrooms, as they’ll release water and can become soggy and unpleasant to eat.
Instead, the easiest way to use them is to simply add the frozen mushrooms directly to the dish you’re cooking.
⭐️ Note: If you froze whole mushrooms, it’s a good idea to chop or slice them to the size of your choice before cooking so they can heat up evenly.
Ways to use oyster mushrooms
With their delicate flavor, oyster mushrooms work well in a variety of dishes. They can be eaten on their own by simply sautéing them in butter with salt and pepper. They can also be chopped up and used in burgers or pasta sauces. And they’re a great addition to stir-fries, soups, stews, sauces.
You can also use them in salads, but you should cook them first as raw oyster mushrooms can have a somewhat rubbery texture.
How can you tell if oyster mushrooms have gone bad?
Before using your oyster mushrooms, it’s best to inspect them to make sure they’re still fresh. If you spot any of the following telltale signs, they may have started to spoil:
Texture. Fresh oyster mushrooms should have a smooth, dry, firm texture. If they appear soft or slimy, they may be starting to turn.
Discoloration. Check for any brown or dark spots.
Smell. An unpleasant odor or sour smell coming from the mushrooms can also mean they’ve spoiled.
If you detect any of these, your best option is to simply discard the mushrooms.
Yes, you should store oyster mushrooms in the fridge in order to keep them fresh for as long as possible. While they can last for up to 2 days at room temperature in a cool, dry place like a pantry, storing them in your fridge’s vegetable compartment can extend the shelf life of oyster mushrooms to 1-2 weeks. For best results, keep them refrigerated in a breathable container.
Unlike some other varieties, oyster mushrooms don’t need to be soaked in order to rehydrate. You can simply add the dried mushrooms to the dish you’re cooking and they will absorb the liquid.
Oyster mushrooms are best in cooked dishes. They easily absorb moisture so they will soak in the liquids and take on the flavor of the dish they’re being cooked with. That makes them especially good in stews and soups. Raw oyster mushrooms on the other hand can have a slightly metallic taste and rubbery texture.
King oyster mushrooms are a large version of the oyster mushroom variety. They have darker caps and thick, light-colored stems, and do not grow in clumps like other smaller types of oyster mushrooms. They have subtle umami and seafood flavors and crunchy consistency.
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