Freezing wild edible mushrooms
The other way of wild edible mushroom preservation is freezing. It is easy and does not require any cooking. To my opinion it is the best way to save the wild mushroom aroma. Whenever I open our freezer where packaged mushrooms are stored the kitchen immediately fills with fresh wild mushroom aroma as if you have just brought them from the forest. I can tell you it stimulates the appetite very well
However, I would not advise to keep frozen mushrooms longer than 3-4 months as they loose their condition with time. The sooner you eat them the better it is. Packaged frozen mushrooms can be defrosted very quickly and efficiently by taking them out of packaging and putting in a pot filled with hot tap water (10 minutes of defrosting in microwave do not do as good as hot water). I use frozen wild edible mushrooms for cooking soups and various main dishes (see my wild mushroom recipes).
In order to freeze wild edible mushrooms the first thing I do is to sort them out after our successful mushroom hunting. For freezing I usually take mature but still firm, healthy or a bit damaged (eaten by the insects) pored mushrooms. I take Boletus, Xerocomus, Leccinum and Suillus species (please refer to my list of wild edible mushrooms) although best of picked Boletus and Leccinum mushrooms would go for drying.
I do not use gill mushrooms for freezing as to my taste they add a bit odd smell and taste. However, if one decides to freeze gill mushrooms it’s better not to mix them with pored mushrooms.
I prefer not to wash wild edible mushrooms sorted for freezing because additional water (apart of 90% of water in wild edible mushrooms) will not do any good, just help to loose mushroom condition and appearance (I wash mushrooms before cooking when they are defrost). It’s enough to wipe the mushrooms with damp cloth, remove dirt, leaves, pine needles, sand, etc. and cut them into one-bite pieces. For me it’s about 3-4 cm cubes and triangles – mushrooms shrink a bit during cooking as they loose water. I package mushroom pieces by 150-300 gr into small plastic bags, like those for sandwiches.
Before packaging I sign plastic bags with a waterproof pen (one used for CD labeling comes handy here). For more efficient use of frozen mushrooms I package them in uneven quantities – I put more mushroom into plastic bags planned for main dish cooking (about 200-300 gr) and I pack less for soups (about 150 gr). Then, it’s just a matter of seconds to take from the freezer the proper package for cooking. I never freeze mushrooms again once they are defrost, so its important to use the whole quantity.
After putting the one-bite pieces of mushrooms into the plastic bag I release the air from empty space of bag and close it (I use either plastic bags with zip or with sticky ends) . I place the packages into the freezer.
Whenever I use frozen mushrooms I never eat them raw. I always cook them after unfreezing – depending on the recipe either boiling or frying. I would suggest to keep total cooking time for about 30 minutes.