Mushrooms are the fruit formed from underground fungi, many of which are edible. Chefs prize mushrooms for their unique flavors, rich textures, and versatility. If you don’t store mushrooms correctly, however, they can rot and become unappetizing.
How you want to store mushrooms depends largely on how you received the mushrooms. To some extent it can also depend on the actual type of mushroom as well, but most species of mushroom are stored roughly the same way.
Many mushrooms purchased in a store will be packaged when you receive them. They are often in a Styrofoam tray, covered with some sort of plastic wrap. You can just leave them in their store-bought packaging, which is designed to store mushrooms. Place them in your refrigerator, somewhere outside of the crisper, and you should be fine. Mushrooms that are prepackaged can last for a week or so without being damaged at all, so long as they’re unopened. Once opened, follow the instructions to store mushrooms bought loose, if you don’t use them all at once.
If you are looking to store mushrooms you’ve bought new, you’ll want to put them in a paper bag. The paper bag will absorb excess moisture from the mushrooms, rather than letting it build up inside to rot the mushrooms, which will happen with a plastic bag. Since the bag can become wet, some people prefer to use a two-bag technique to store mushrooms. First place the loose mushrooms in a paper bag, fold over the top, and then store that paper bag inside a lightly perforated plastic bag.
Store the entire bag in the refrigerator, but don’t store it in the crisper drawer. You want the mushrooms to be kept cold, but you always want moisture to flow out from them, not to build up in the bag with them. Store mushrooms far from any foods in your fridge that let off strong odors. Mushrooms are incredibly odor absorbent, and if you place them near fragrant foods, they will tend to absorb some of that odor.
If you store mushrooms properly, they will last a few days. Try to use them as soon as possible, since their freshness can go fairly quickly. Most lighter tan mushrooms get darker as they age, so it is a good idea to try to use the darkest mushrooms in the bunch first, to use them up before they go bad. Mushrooms should also be stored whole. It’s a bad idea to cut them or prep them in any way before storing them, as this will reduce their shelf life. You can pickle or can mushrooms, in which case they will last almost indefinitely. Mushrooms can also be dried, which will allow them to last forever if protected from moisture.