Chanterelle season doesn’t last forever. If you love chanterelle mushrooms, you may be wondering if there’s a way to preserve them so you can cook with them year round. In this article, we’ll talk about how to store fresh chanterelle mushrooms as well as how to freeze and dehydrate them.
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How to Preserve Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelles are versatile mushrooms that can be stored and preserved in a variety of ways. Some common storage methods include:
- Refrigerated in a paper bag for up to 10 days
- Cooked and frozen for up to a year
- Dehydrated and stored at room temperature
Throughout this article, we’ll discuss the process for each of these preservation methods. Regardless of which method you use, though, there’s a couple of things you’ll want to consider before you start.
Choosing Your Mushrooms
When it comes to storing chanterelles, it’s important that you select only the best mushrooms from your harvest. Any that are starting to go bad will spoil within a few days in the fridge and cause your entire batch to go bad more quickly than it should.
Even if you’re planning to freeze, dry, or your chanterelles, choosing the best mushrooms is essential. Even just one or two sub-par chanterelles will lower the overall quality of your entire batch.
When choosing your mushrooms, select only those that are firm and undamaged. Any chanterelles that have bruises, mold spots, soft areas, or are turning slimy should be used right away or discarded.
Cleaning Your Mushrooms
If you plan to store your chanterelles raw in the fridge, there is no need to wash them until you’re ready to use them. In fact, storing fresh mushrooms unwashed will help them to last longer.
For any other storage method, though, you’ll need to clean the chanterelles first. There are a few different ways you can do this:
- Quickly dunk each mushroom in a bowl or sink of cold water, swishing it around or gently cleaning it with a toothbrush to loosen bits of dirt and forest debris.
- Run each mushroom under a stream of water, using a toothbrush to remove the dirt as you would above.
- Place several mushrooms in a bowl of water and quickly swish them around, then remove them before they have a chance to absorb too much water.
However you choose to clean your mushrooms, it’s a good idea to place them on a paper towel or cooling rack to drain before you cook them. Some experts recommend letting them dry overnight before continuing the preservation process.
How Do You Store Chanterelles in the Fridge?
If chanterelles are fresh, unwashed, and undamaged, they will keep for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. To properly store your chanterelles in the fridge, follow these steps:
- Remove any damaged or partially spoiled mushrooms from your harvest as discussed above.
- Place the chanterelles in a paper bag, leaving plenty of space so the air can circulate around them. Overstuffing the bag will reduce air flow, causing the mushrooms to go bad sooner.
- Place the paper bag in the middle of your fridge where it will have the best chance of getting proper air circulation.
- Check the chanterelles every day to make sure none of them are molding or turning slimy. Remove any bad mushrooms immediately so they won’t spoil the rest of the batch.
- You could also store your chanterelles in a glass bowl lightly covered with a cloth. Never place them in a plastic bag or sealed tupperware dish, as the chanterelles need to be able to breathe.
When you’re ready to use the chanterelles, remove as many as you need and wash them thoroughly before cooking.
How to Freeze Chanterelle Mushrooms
Freezing chanterelles is a great way to keep them for up to a year. They will all clump together when frozen, so be sure and divide them into the desired portions and freeze each portion separately.
Follow these steps for freezing chanterelle mushrooms:
- It is generally recommended to cook your chanterelles before freezing them. The most common cooking methods used for this purpose are steaming and dry sauteing.
To steam chanterelles, place them in a steamer basket over boiling water, making sure none of the water comes up into the basket. Allow the mushrooms to steam, covered, for about 10 minutes, then remove them from the heat.
If you’d rather use the dry saute method, preheat a skillet or fry pan over medium heat. Add the chanterelles and cook them, stirring often so they don’t burn, until they have released and reabsorbed their own moisture.
The dry saute process should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Once the mushrooms are done cooking, remove them from the heat.
- At this point, you can proceed with freezing your chanterelles. Allow the cooked mushrooms to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes, then place them in resealable bags or freezer-safe food storage containers.
- Date the bags or containers and place them in the freezer. They will store incredibly well this way, but their quality will decline after the first year.
For a great visual on the dry sauteing and freezing process, check out the following video:
To use your frozen chanterelles, remove them from the freezer and cook immediately. They may become soggy if allowed to thaw, but if you have to thaw them, place the bag in the fridge for no more than 24 hours.
Can You Freeze Chanterelles Raw?
Technically, the answer is yes. Chanterelles that have been frozen raw will still be edible, but they will be much lower quality than frozen chanterelles that were cooked first.
For one thing, cooking the mushrooms beforehand allows them to release a lot of their water. If they are frozen raw, this water will be released during the freezing process, which in turn will lead to a buildup of ice inside the freezer bag or container.
Raw chanterelles may not last as long in the freezer as they would if they were cooked, and they will be more subject to freezer burn. Once they are removed from the freezer, they will be soggy and limp; their texture, even when cooked, will be more rubbery than it should be.
How to Dry Chanterelle Mushrooms in the Oven
Most chanterelle enthusiasts don’t recommend dehydrating these mushrooms, as the dehydration process significantly lowers the flavor quality.
If dehydration is your preferred method of preservation, dried chanterelles can still be used in soups and other mixed dishes. Just be aware that they won’t taste as flavorful as fresh or frozen chanterelles.
To dehydrate your chanterelles in the oven, follow these steps:
- Preheat your oven to the lowest setting possible, which will probably be 165 or 170 degrees. If it goes lower, you can set it as low as 125 degrees.
- Slice your mushrooms in ¼-inch slices and place them in a single layer on baking sheets. Make sure they are not touching or crowding each other.
- Place the baking sheets in the oven and leave the door cracked open so the moisture escaping the mushrooms isn’t trapped inside the oven.
- Dehydration times will vary depending on the elevation, the temperature of your oven and, to some degree, the humidity level in your house. For a 125 degree oven, the process will take at least 4 to 6 hours, or less for higher temperatures.
- Check the mushrooms once or twice per hour, turning them over if needed. When they’re done, they will feel leathery and snap when pressed between your fingers.
- Remove them from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then place in resealable bags or containers. They will store at room temperature for several years, but the taste quality will continue to deteriorate the longer they are in storage.
To rehydrate your mushrooms, place them in a bowl and just cover them with warm water. Allow them to sit for 20 minutes up to an hour until they have swollen and regained some of their flexibility.
If you plan to boil them in a soup, you can throw the dried mushrooms directly into the broth.
You can store chanterelle mushrooms fresh in the fridge, cooked in the freezer, or dried in the pantry. If you find yourself with a bigger harvest than you can use all at once, you might consider preserving the mushrooms so you’ll have them even after chanterelle season is over.
Just be sure you, you store the true chanterelles!