Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Mushrooms For The Freezer


My husband and I both really enjoy mushrooms, either as a side dish or as a component of a larger dish, but they’re quite expensive.  Unless we forage for them ourselves, we rarely see them on our table.  Mushrooms definitely have treat food status at our house.  Every once in a while, though, we strike it lucky.

One of the grocery stores near our house has a rack at the back of the produce department on which they offer marked down produce.  This is the stuff that is nearing the end of its shelf life.  A person buying from the discount rack has to choose with care.  Some of the produce is quite useable and some of it really just needs to be composted. 

I used to turn my nose up as I passed the discount produce rack but I don’t any more.  Funny how a tight budget can leave you open to new possibilities.

There are many things on the discount rack that I still choose to forgo. There’s no point in getting a 50% discount on a package in which more than 25% of the produce is unusable.  Might as well just go for the good stuff, pay full price and save yourself the trouble.  What I often do bring home from the discount rack are cauliflower (the discoloured bits are easily trimmed off), ripe bananas (to use in baking), and mushrooms. 

Mushrooms displayed on open shelves darken in colour and start to dehydrate as they age.  This process makes them kind of homely looking – they’re definitely not the prettiest girls at the dance – but doesn’t impair either their flavour or their nutritional value.  The fact that they’ve dried out some even lightens their weight a bit, giving you more mushrooms per pound.   Mushrooms that have been packaged in plastic, on the other hand, tend to rot. Always avoid mushrooms that have a slimy texture or a lot of visible condensation inside their packaging.

The mushrooms at the grocery store near our house are stored on open shelves but, once they reach the homely stage, the folks in the produce department gather them up into big plastic bags and put them on sale. If you’re fortunate enough to get them soon after they’re put on the rack in the morning, and if you take care to transfer them out of their plastic bag as soon as you get them home, they’re a good bargain.

I came across just such a bag of mushrooms yesterday.  It contained 1.6 kg (just over 3.5 lbs) of mushrooms and it cost me $5.25.  That’s a pretty good price by local standards.  :^)

The first thing I did when I got home was tear the bag open to let the extra moisture disburse. 


Rather than subject the mushrooms to the cold, moist environment of the refrigerator,  I transferred them into a basket and kept them on the counter until I was ready to cook them. 

When it came time to cook the mushrooms, I gave them a good wash under running water.  I know that lots of cooks say not to do that, but mushrooms are grown in manure.  I want to know my mushrooms are clean, thank you very much.  Mushrooms are like sponges and can absorb quite a bit of moisture but you can gently squeeze some of it out if you’re worried that they’re too soggy.  Otherwise, it’ll just cook out in the pan.

The mushrooms I bought were all different sizes and I wanted them to cook evenly, so I cut them into thick slices.


I melted some butter in my large electric frying pan and then added the mushrooms in all at once.  I usually cook my mushrooms with minced garlic and fresh thyme.  I was out of fresh garlic this time so I substituted garlic powder.  It worked just fine.

The mushrooms gave off quite a bit of water in the pan but I kept cooking them over high heat, stirring them now and again until the water cooked off.  Once the water had cooked off I continued cooking them over high heat, stirring constantly until they browned.  Once the mushrooms were browned, I seasoned them with salt and pepper.


I served the sautéed mushrooms as a side dish with our dinner last night.  My husband was delighted and ate more mushrooms than anything else on offer, which is okay by me.  The leftover meat will make us a couple of lunches this week.

There were quite a lot of mushrooms left over after dinner.  I let them cool to room temperature and then portioned them into sandwich bags.  I squeezed as much air out of the bags as I could before sealing them.


I packaged the individual portions in a larger, labeled freezer bag.


Thawing frozen mushrooms before reheating them almost always results in an unpleasant texture but if they’re reheated straight from frozen they can be quite good.  I’ll use the frozen mushrooms to add flavour and texture to sauces, casseroles, and meat pies, giving us five meals or more from that $5.25 purchase.  That’s fine by me!
__________________________________
This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, to Frugal Friday hosted by Life as Mom, to Think Pink Sunday hosted by Flamingo Toes, to CraftoManiac Monday hosted by CraftoManiac, to Making Monday's Marvelous hosted by C.R.A.F.T., to Makin' You Crave Monday hosted by Mrs. Happy Homemaker, to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Full Time Mama, Mama Chocolate, and Coping with Frugality, to Wednesday Whatsits hosted by White Lights on Wednesday, and to Link it up Wednesday hosted by {Junk in their Trunk}.

Gallery of Favorites  

  DIY projects and crafts   Mrs Happy Homemaker

Full Time Mama  

12 comments:

Camille said...

I always buy big pacakages of mushrooms but sometimes we don't quite get through them. Now I know what to do with them!

Gloria said...

What great idea I never freeze mushrooms but sounds amazing!

Aunt B said...

Glad I could help with that. :)

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you liked the idea Gloria. Thanks for stopping by to check out the blog. :)

The 21st Century Housewife© said...

This is great frugal advice. I had never tried freezing mushrooms, but I won't hesitate now!

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you found the information useful. :)

Alea Milham said...

Great way to take advantage of a sale on mushrooms and shorten meal prep at a later date.

Aunt B said...

Thanks Alea. That's a great compliment coming from you. I always enjoy the tips and recipes I find on http://premeditatedleftovers.com/.

Full Time Mama said...

I am not a mushroom person, but I will DEF share this with my family and friends who are and actually eat them. ;)
Thanks for linking up again!!!

Aunt B said...

Thanks for sharing it onward, and for hosting. I appreciate the opportunity to share my posts.

Amanda said...

What a great money saving idea! I have never seen mushrooms in the "manager's special" bin at our store... but they also keep them in baskets and out of plastic so I am going to ask them next time I am at the store what they do with the "old" ones. Thanks so much for sharing with Delicious Dish Tuesday!

Aunt B said...

Thanks Amanda. I'm glad you found the suggestion helpful :)