Fresh mushrooms are one of the most delightful seasonal bounties, so the last thing you want is those freshly foraged mushrooms going to waste.
When you dry mushrooms, they make a superb addition to the following dishes:
While the best dried mushrooms can be expensive, and they can be hard to find, you can make your own at home without too much trouble.
Almost all types of mushrooms dry very effectively. The flavor is even enhanced by the drying process.
You can easily store dried mushrooms for up to a year. When you rehydrate the mushrooms, the texture will almost indistinguishable from that of fresh mushrooms.
The optimum method of drying mushrooms is using a dedicated dehydrator, but you can also get great results using your home oven, whether that’s a traditional oven or a fan-assisted convection oven.
I. What You Need to Dry Mushrooms in the Oven
Luckily, you don’t need much by the way of equipment.
- A selection of your chosen mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Baking sheets
- Slicing tools (mandolin or food processor) are optional
- Oven set to 150F
II. How To Dry Mushrooms in Your Oven in 5 Easy Steps
- Firstly, clean your mushrooms thoroughly
- Slice your mushrooms thinly
- Remove excess water from your mushrooms
- Dry the mushrooms thoroughly
- Make sure you store the dried mushrooms properly
1) Firstly, clean your mushrooms thoroughly
Most mushrooms come with dirt on them. After all, they are foraged from under the ground.
It’s a common misconception that mushrooms soak up too much water to wash thoroughly. Hold them under some cool running water and use a veggie brush to gently scrub all the nooks and crannies of the mushrooms until they are debris-free.
2) Slice your mushrooms thinly
For mushrooms to dry effectively, you’ll need to slice them thinly into uniform shapes.
Slice the mushrooms anywhere from 0.125 inches to 0.25 inches thick. The thicker the slices, the longer the mushrooms will take to dry.
3) Remove excess water from your mushrooms
Before placing your mushrooms in the oven, you’ll need to blot away all excess moisture. Fail to do this and your mushrooms will steam instead of dehydrating when you put them in the oven.
Spread the sliced mushrooms on a kitchen towel. Roll the towel loosely to get rid of any surface moisture.
Arrange all your mushrooms on a baking sheet. Ensure no pieces are touching or overlapping.
4) Dry the mushrooms thoroughly
You’ll need a low heat for this method, so preheat your oven to 150F.
Pop your baking sheet containing the mushrooms inside the oven for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, turn the mushroom slices over and leave in the oven for a further hour.
Remove the mushrooms from the oven and allow them to cool. You can now check whether they are crispy dry or need more time. The cooling period allows for further crisping, so be patient.
If you find your mushrooms are not totally dry, rotate them again and pop them back in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn them and check for dryness every 30 minutes until they’re done to perfection.
5) Make sure you store the dried mushrooms properly
Dried mushrooms respond well to being stored in a covered glass jars.
Always make sure the mushrooms have cooled completely before you transfer them to storage containers.
Label these jars with the type of mushrooms and the date of drying.
Store your jars away from direct heat or light, and consume within a year for best results.
III. How to Rehydrate Dried Mushrooms
All you need to do when you want to rehydrate those dried mushrooms is to place them into a heat-proof bowl. Cover the mushrooms with boiling water and allow them to soak for 30 minutes.
Drain and deploy the mushrooms in just the same way you would use fresh mushrooms.
If you set aside the soaking liquid, this infusion will impart a deep and rich flavor to your sauces and soup stocks.
IV. How to Dry Mushrooms Naturally
Now, if you live in a small apartment and you don’t have access to an oven, fear not. You can dry your mushroom naturally.
Here’s what you need to do.
- Clean and slice your mushrooms as above
- Check the weather. You want a sunny day with very low humidity levels to dry mushrooms naturally. When humidity levels are high, the mushrooms not only take much longer to dry, but you may even find mold growing, too
- Pick a spot for drying your mushrooms on the windowsill, in a sunny room, or an a well-ventilated flat roof, assuming no animals or bugs can reach the mushrooms
- Either string up the mushrooms to dry, or lay them flat on a drying rack. If you are using a rack, ensure that none of the mushrooms are overlapping
- Leave the mushrooms to dry for a day or two. Check the progress several times daily
- If the mushrooms are not completely dry, consider finishing them in an oven if you have access to one. See above for how to achieve this
V. How to Freeze-Dry Mushrooms
If you fancy freeze-drying mushrooms, that’s possible, too.
- Place your cleaned, sliced mushrooms on a paper towel laid out on a flat surface. Use only one layer and ensure none of the mushrooms overlap
- Make certain there is no water on any of the mushrooms
- Place another paper towel over the mushrooms
- Add another layer of mushrooms
- Repeat these steps until all your mushrooms are layered
- Take a paper bag and carefully place your multiple layers of mushrooms inside. You should choose a bag that’s large enough to easily accommodate the towels and mushrooms. The bag will help water vapors to pass through as your mushrooms start drying out
- Put the bag of mushrooms into the freezer. Over time, your mushrooms will start to dry out. While this is a much slower process, it’s also highly effective. If you’re in no rush, give freeze-drying mushrooms a try
Remember, when they are properly stored, mushrooms can be kept in dry form for years. They will have a more concentrated flavor than fresh mushrooms due to the drying process – however you achieve that drying – so make sure you exercise a light touch to avoid overpowering your dishes.
All you need to do to reconstitute those mushrooms is to add some stock or boiling water.
If you don’t have access to an oven, try drying your mushrooms naturally or using the freezer. Whichever method you choose, use a light touch when you use the mushrooms rehydrated. The flavor will be even stronger than ever!
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