Canning mushrooms is a convenient and efficient method of preserving fresh mushrooms in large quantities. It is important to note, however, that canning mushrooms can deteriorate their quality and may cause the mushrooms to become soft and rubbery in texture. If texture is a concern or if there is less than 8 pounds of mushrooms to process, then freezing may be a better option. Canning mushrooms require the use of a properly working pressure canner and pint or half-pint canning jars. Proper selection, preparation and processing times are essential for safely canning fresh mushrooms at home.
For starters, one should only choose fresh edible mushrooms, such as those sold in the grocery stores, for canning. The most common varieties of canning mushrooms are white button mushrooms and brown cremini or Italian mushrooms. Chanterelle, Enoki, Hen of the Woods, Morel, Oyster, Porcini, Portabella, Shiitake and Wood Ear mushrooms also are edible and suitable for canning. One should select only the freshest mushrooms — those that are firm, evenly colored and clean — and give them minimal storage time — preferably less than a day — before canning. The mushrooms should be rinsed and dried; large mushrooms should be sliced or quartered, while small mushrooms can be canned whole but should be consistent in size with other mushrooms in the jar. The mushrooms then should be placed in a solution of ascorbic acid and cold water to help maintain the mushroom’s natural color.
Pint or half-pint jars are commonly used to can mushrooms, depending on the amount of mushrooms a person expects to use at one time and the total amount of mushrooms to can. Approximately 8 pounds (3.6kg) of mushrooms are needed for nine half-pint jars and approximately 15 pounds (6.8kg) are needed for nine pint jars. Quart jars are generally not recommended for canning mushrooms, unless they are being pickled. The clean, raw mushrooms are next packed into the hot jars and cover with hot water, leaving a 1-inch headspace. The jars should be processed in a properly working pressure canner under approximately 12 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes, though one should check the proper pressure based on altitude prior to beginning.
Pickling mushrooms is another method of canning mushrooms. It is simple and ideal for smaller batches, because it does not require a full load in the boiling water bath canner. Distilled white vinegar with 5 percent acidity, or 50 grain, combined with an equal amount of water will pickle small, fresh mushrooms.