You just got back home with a bumper crop of hen of the woods mushrooms. You cook and use what you can right away, but you have quite a bit left over. What can you do with them? In this article, we’ll talk about how to store hen of the woods mushrooms.
What You'll Learn Today
How Long Do Hen of the Woods Mushrooms Last in the Refrigerator?
Hen of the woods, like other mushrooms, will only last so long when you store them in the refrigerator. As much as you would love to have them available fresh all the time, they simply will not keep their freshness very long once they’ve been harvested.
You can keep fresh hen of the woods mushrooms in the fridge for up to a week, though it’s usually best to use them within 3 to 5 days. Keep the mushrooms in a paper bag on one of the shelves rather than in the crisper drawer, and check on them at least once a day to see if they are going bad.
Remove any mushrooms or segments that are starting to go bad; otherwise, the rot will quickly spread to the others as well. Don’t wash your mushrooms before storing in the fridge or they will get soggy and go bad more quickly.
Again, your best bet is to use your mushrooms up as quickly as possible. Fresh mushrooms of any kind don’t last long in the fridge, and hen of the woods mushrooms are no exception.
How to Tell if Hen of the Woods Mushrooms Have Gone Bad
It’s easy to tell if your mushrooms are going bad. They will start to smell and look like they are in various stages of decay as they age.
Bad hen of the woods mushrooms will turn slimy, appear discolored, and will have a fishy or ammonia-like odor. They may also show signs of mold, and they may have small dark areas or soft spots.
Spoiling hen of the woods mushrooms may have an almost wilty appearance, and they may also feel sticky. A good rule of thumb is that anything that looks, feels, or smells off should probably be discarded.
How to Dry Hen of the Woods Mushrooms?
Drying hen of the woods is the best way to preserve these mushrooms if you can’t use them up while they’re fresh. Dried hen of the woods will last for up to a year, can be reconstituted and used like fresh mushrooms, or powdered and added to recipes as a flavoring.
To dry hen of the woods mushrooms:
- Clean the mushrooms: some people recommend simply brushing them with a mushroom brush, while others suggest rinsing them off under running water. However you choose to clean them, make sure they are free of dirt, debris, and insects.
- Divide them up: Cut or break the mushrooms in evenly sized pieces, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. You may want to do this while you are washing them, as they are easier to clean when they are in small pieces.
- Choose your drying method: You can dry these mushrooms in a dehydrator, in the oven, sun dry them, or air dry them. The preferred method is to use a dehydrator, which will take less time and involvement than the other methods.
- Lay them out to dry: Place your mushrooms on dehydrator racks, spacing them evenly so they receive sufficient air flow.
- Use a moderate temperature setting: A good temperature for dehydrating mushrooms is about 135 degrees, but the temperature can be between 120 and 165 degrees. If your dehydrator doesn’t have degree settings, a good rule of thumb is to put it on a moderate setting.
- Dehydrate them: Hen of the woods mushrooms will take about 8 hours on moderate temperature setting; adjust the time as necessary, longer for a lower setting and shorter for a higher setting. It’s best to begin monitoring them after 4 hours.
- Remove mushrooms from the dehydrator: The mushrooms are done when the pieces are hard and snap between your fingers. They should not be leathery or have any remnants of moisture, but you also don’t want them to be too hard to break or all black in color.
- Package them: After allowing the mushrooms to cool for a couple of minutes, place them in jars for storage. Keep them in a cool, dark, low-humidity area of your home; usually a dark cupboard works well.
For more information on dehydrating hen of the woods mushrooms, check out this video:
How to Freeze Hen of the Woods Mushrooms?
Freezing is another great way to store hen of the woods mushrooms. Freezing preserves them for several months and they can be used in many of the same ways as fresh mushrooms.
To freeze these mushrooms, follow the steps below:
- Clean the mushrooms:
Once again, proper cleaning is important so you don’t end up with any debris or unwanted critters in your mushrooms. Either brush them off with a mushroom brush or rinse them under running water, depending on your preference.
- Cut or break them into bite-sized pieces:
There are many different ways you can cut your mushrooms, some of which are discussed in the video at the end of this section. The simplest way to do it is simply to break the mushrooms into 1- or 2-inch chunks.
- Pre-freeze if desired:
Place the mushroom pieces on baking sheets in a single layer and place the baking sheets in the freezer. Allow the mushrooms to freeze for at least two hours.
- Place them in resealable freezer bags:
After pre-freezing, remove the mushrooms from the freezer and transfer them to resealable freezer bags. Alternatively, you can place fresh unfrozen pieces directly into resealable bags.
- Freeze them:
Remove the air from the freezer bags and place them in the freezer. You can store your mushrooms in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Check out this video to see some of the different ways you can chop these mushrooms for freezing:
Other Ways to Store Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
There are also other ways to preserve hen of the woods mushrooms as well. These include:
- Pickling them: Pickled hen of the woods mushrooms need to be kept refrigerated, but they will stay good for over a year. They can be eaten on their own or used as you would use any other kind of pickled food.
- Canning them: Canned hen of the woods mushrooms may last for a couple of years, though they will lose some of their nutritional benefits in the canning process. They also may not taste as flavorful.
- Freeze drying them: If you have a freeze dryer, you can freeze dry these mushrooms. They will keep for at least 25 years, and you won’t need to worry about keeping them in the fridge or freezer.
Hen of the woods mushrooms are delicious when prepared fresh after harvesting them, but they will not keep this way for very long. They can be stored for a few days in the fridge, for several months in the freezer, and for a year or more when dried, canned, or pickled.