Over recent decades there has been a huge upsurge in the popularity of various forms of mushrooms and their use as an ingredient in a wide variety of culinary activities.

Those of us who love mushrooms will, of course, welcome this. For some years, devotees were constantly distraught to see mushrooms badly prepared and often served as a sort of plate-filler type garnish looking distinctly unappetising.

The huge growth in mushroom recipes and mushroom facts has changed all that now, as has the increasing public and health profession's awareness of the beneficial qualities inherent in many types of fungus. However, there is still one area where there is scope for improvement in their use within the typical household - and that is in storage.



Fresh mushrooms don't have a particularly long shelf life in a home, at least not if you want to get them at their best. Even so, there are a few basic tips you can follow that will help to ensure they are at in good condition when you are considering them for your mushroom recipes.

In passing, keep in mind that there is not always universal agreement on this subject.

Some people have their own very idiosyncratic views about storing fresh mushrooms and you may end up having to do what seem sensible to you based on a lot of slightly different advice!

• You can store them in a refrigerator, typically for up to about three days or so. Try to do so in something other than a plastic bag but make sure they are gently covered with some kitchen towel in order to stop them drying out.
• They can also be stored at ordinary room temperature for a number of days. Once again, don't be tempted to stick them in that freezer bag but instead put them in an ordinary paper bag and allow them to breathe. Providing that there is some air circulation, you can keep them open on the shelf just as you may see in the supermarket but again, it's a good idea to keep them gently covered to reduce drying tendencies.
• If you are picking wild mushrooms, make sure that they are placed in an open straw basket of some type rather than yet again that plastic shopping bag. This is partly to help them retain their freshness but also to help their spores circulate on the air as you go. Of course, you should never pick and consume wild mushrooms unless you are an expert in the identification of those that could be dangerous or have someone with you that is.
• Dried mushrooms will typically store for lot longer but needless to say, they must be kept in a dry and airtight container. Remember that some mushroom recipes will require that dried varieties are soaked prior to being used.
• Signs to look for when they're getting past their best include brown soggy patches on the cap, limp and lifeless-looking stalks or a shrivelled appearance on the cap or stalks. Also look out for any significant patches of discolouration on the gills.
Nothing in the above is meant to suggest that this is a great technical challenge. By contrast, storage is relatively straightforward if you use a little common sense and that way your mushroom recipes will be on the receiving end of ingredients that are in tip-top condition!

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