Mushrooms are the growing fruit portion of fungi that grows on logs and trees. Shiitake mushrooms are known for being high in protein and essential vitamins and minerals and are used to give food a gourmet flavour. The mushrooms are native to China, where they have been cultivated for more than 1,000 years. Purchase mushrooms that are smaller in size with firm, clean caps and creamy-coloured undersides that are not mushy or have slimy areas. Mushrooms that dry out can be revitalised by soaking in water.
Brush dirt off the mushrooms by gently removing it with a slightly damp paper towel when you are ready to freeze them. Leave the dirt on the mushrooms until this time.
Remove the stems from shiitake mushrooms as they are tough. The stems can be chopped and added fresh to high-liquid-content foods, such as soups, where the liquid tenderises the mushroom.
Cut the mushrooms to the desired size and sauté them in olive oil or butter. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and cool them to room temperature.
Package the cooled mushrooms in a quantity of 1/2 or 1 cup size and place them in an airtight container or freezer zip-top bags. Seal the container and place in freezer. Shiitake mushrooms will store in a freezer for approximately two months.
Thaw shiitake mushrooms slowly in the refrigerator prior to using. Frozen mushrooms work well in sauces and soups.
Do not use water to wash mushrooms because mushrooms are porous and will soak it into their flesh. Large mushroom caps are spongier in texture because they have higher moisture content.