Preserving Mushrooms

Modifying the atmospheric pressure under which button mushrooms are packaged helps retain their freshness for a long time.

mushrooms are fragile and hard to keep. Consumers will put up with wild mushrooms that are a bit bruised, but they want ordinary button mushrooms to be nice and white, with a short stem, small cap, and gills that are covered by a continuous veil, for they know that mushrooms can rapidly change character. A few days is all it takes for mushrooms to darken, for their stems to lengthen, for their ink-black gills to be exposed, and, worse still, for their taste and texture to be denatured.

How can mushroom producers keep their products fresh for longer periods of time? The success of various kinds of ready-to-eat salad greens, washed and packaged under controlled atmospheric pressure, has encouraged food processing firms to take an interest in the problems associated with bringing mushrooms to market. Having shown that the shelf life of baskets of mushrooms could be extended by altering the preservation atmosphere, a team of researchers from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (inra) station at Montfavet working with food technologists from the Association de Développement et de la Recherche dans les Industries Agro-Alimentaires et d'Emballage-Conditionnement studied various plastic films to determine which one does the best job of sealing in freshness.

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