The overall awareness of the consumers when it comes to healthy food is constantly growing.
They pay more and more close attention to different quality factors when buying.
For mushrooms, such quality factors are color, texture, flavor, size, moisture content, and nutrients.
Those factors are influenced by their loss due to, for example, mechanical damage, the packaging material used, the storage temperature and storage humidity applied, or the respiration rate of the mushroom itself.
In today’s video, I, therefore, talk about best practices to improve and maintain the quality of your mushrooms.
The mentioned factors can be divided into internal factors and external factors.
Internal factors are the water activity, the respiration rate, or the microbial activity. They depend on the mushroom species you are cultivating.
External factors are, for example, temperature, humidity, mechanical damage, or the packaging material. They depend on handling the mushrooms during the cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvesting phase.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
How to preserve mushrooms during the growth phase?
We recognize that the mushroom quality first and foremost depends on the growing parameters you are applying to your mushrooms. Meaning, do you apply to all your mushrooms the same temperature and humidity, or do you adjust to the needs of each individual mushroom species?
Second, to maintain the right amount of humidity and, therefore, the water content of the mushroom itself, the water frequency plays an important role. On the one side, overwatering the mushrooms increases the microbial load. On the other side, watering them to less and they start to dry out.
Besides these factors, the mushroom industry starts treating the mushrooms during the growth phase successfully with, for example, calcium chloride, citric acid, sorbitol, or EDTA to reduce the microbial load.
How to preserve mushrooms during the harvesting period?
When it comes to the harvesting period, reducing the humidity 12 hours before the harvest is a good practice.
This helps to slow down the metabolism of mushrooms.
When picking the mushrooms, avoid any mechanical damage as they cause browning of the mushroom.
How to preserve mushrooms during the post-harvesting phase?
After the mushrooms are harvested, a more common practice is to wash the mushrooms in a solution containing either citric acid, EDTA, H2O2, or sodium chlorite to reduce microbial load.
This practice is mainly introduced in the button mushroom industry.
The microbial load is reduced even further by treating the mushrooms with UV light.
As the respiration rate plays an essential role in how fast a mushroom deteriorates, the mushroom industry starts to test coating the mushrooms with an alginate edible coating.
After these treatments, the mushrooms are placed in modified atmospheric packaging materials. As the name states, the atmosphere of CO2 and oxygen is influenced by the packaging materials themselves or by additives inside the packaging materials to maintain the respiration rate at the desired level.
The packaged mushrooms are then immediately cooled down to 2 to 3°C to reduce the metabolic process to a minimum.
It is, therefore, crucial to maintain the proper storage temperature and humidity along the cool chain until the consumer gets your mushroom in his hands.
Besides, it is a good practice to inform your customers how they can preserve the quality of your mushrooms over a more extended period.
Talk to you in the following video. But before I do that, let me thank all of my Patreons for their ongoing support.