Selecting your mushrooms:

  • Look for firm, plump mushrooms that are free of blemishes and show no sign of deterioration.
  • Mushrooms should be dry (not dried out), have no visible moisture on the outside and have an earthy aroma. They should smell like the woods not mold.
  • Note that mushrooms with a partial veil (a thin membrane covering the gills/spores under the cap) tend to have a more delicate flavor whereas mushrooms with exposed gills usually have a more robust, richer flavor. The veil is a protective tissue that keeps the spores in place until the mushroom has matured.  As the mushroom grows, the veil ultimately peels away and disappears
  • Avoid mushrooms that have a slimy surface which is a sign that they are starting to spoil.
  • Mushrooms that have bits of moss, bark or pine needles on them are fine. Some soil may also be present which is perfectly normal, particularly for wild mushrooms.  It is best to leave the mushrooms intact and simply remove the debris and brush off the dirt until you are ready to cook them.

Storing your mushrooms:

  • Mushrooms are always best when kept in a cool, dry place.
  • If you have purchased mushrooms in packaging at the grocery store, keep them in the refrigerator unopened until ready to use.  Once the package has been open, store the remainder in a loosely closed brown paper bag (never in a sealed container or plastic bag).
  • Fresh mushrooms can also be stored on a plate covered with damp paper towels.
  • Do not wash fresh mushrooms prior to storing. As mentioned above, mushrooms are best left undisturbed until ready to cook.
  • Fresh mushrooms should last at least three days in the refrigerator and some up to a week.
  • If you have excess mushrooms, simply sauté them in butter and olive oil until they render their juices then put them in a sealed bag in the freezer for up to a month. Do not add herbs or spices.
  • Dehydrated mushrooms can be kept at room temperature or in the freezer for 12 -18 months. They can be reconstituted in warm water, wine, broth or stock. Note: the liquid from reconstituted mushrooms makes a flavorful addition to stocks, sauces, stews and soups, so it is worth saving!

Cleaning your mushrooms:

  • The less a mushroom is handled the better.  When you are ready to use your mushrooms, simply clean them with a mushroom brush or a damp cloth.
  • If the mushrooms are particularly dirty, rinse quickly under water and pat dry immediately. NEVER soak fresh mushrooms as they absorb moisture quickly, that will distort their texture and dilute other ingredients when released during cooking.  Larger mushrooms can also be cut in half allowing for deeper cleaning.
  • Trim or remove the stems (depending on the variety) prior to cooking.
  • Anydirt that may be on a Dehydrated mushroom will usually settle at the bottom of the bowl they are reconstituted in.

Wild mushrooms:

If you forage for mushrooms in the wild, be certain that you have identified the specimen in detail as many edible varieties look similar to those that are poisonous and in some cases deadly.  If you are uncertain of a mushroom’s identity do not pick it or have an expert mycologist confirm that it is edible.  Weather, infections, animal damage can change the appearance of a mushroom that may lead to misidentification. As the saying goes, “when in doubt, throw it out”.

Should you suspect that you may have eaten a poisonous mushroom, take the following action:

Call your local hospital or physician immediately.

If possible, bring a sample of the mushroom that you have consumed to your doctor or hospital.

Contact a local mycologist that can definitely identify the mushroom that you have ingested.

Contact your local poison control center 800/222-1222

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