Just like when we’re harvesting fresh herbs such as basil and oregano, when we go foraging for mushrooms we always end up with too many on our hands. We cook and eat most of them, but we’ve found that drying the rest allows us to use them later in soups, risottos, and many other dishes, and in this post, we’ll explain to you how to dry mushrooms so you can use them in special occasions.
Dried mushrooms can last a long time in your pantry, and are they’re packed with flavor and nutritional value. The best part is that you don’t need a food dehydrator, as you can simply air-dry them or dry them in the oven.
To dry mushrooms, you have to clean them, slice them, and either pop them in the oven or let them air-dry. It sounds simple, right? That’s because it is! However, there are certain considerations you need to take into account to ensure that your dried mushrooms are safe to eat.
Read on to find out how to dry mushrooms step by step!
Before we begin, we want to make it clear that we’re not going to be teaching you how to forage for wild mushrooms because an incorrect ID can be incredibly dangerous. Instead, we’re going to help you select the best mushrooms from the batch you’ve already bought or are planning to buy.
When drying mushrooms, it’s always best to use fresh ones, as the methods we’re going to explain here won’t work with those past their prime. Look for mushrooms that look plump, firm, and free of signs of spoilage. Try to choose whole mushrooms with intact caps and stalks, as sliced, broken, or bruised mushrooms have a shorter shelf-life.
If you’ve had your mushrooms in the fridge for a while, check them for wrinkles and dry, shriveled patches that indicate that they’ve started to go bad. Some definite signs that indicate that mushrooms are past their prime and should be discarded include discoloration, a slimy coating, and a fermented or fishy odor.
Once you’ve selected your mushrooms, it’s time to prepare them. Now, unlike fruits and vegetables, you can’t wash your mushrooms under running water. They’re quite porous and can absorb the liquid, leading to the development of mold, among other things you really don’t want to eat.
Instead, use a brush or a dry paper towel to wipe your mushrooms off right before you’re ready to use them. Don’t prep them before it’s time to cook because you’ll only contribute to the aging process.
If there are any stubborn spots of dirt, you can use a damp paper towel to gently scrub them off, but make sure to wipe that same spot with a dry cloth to absorb any moisture you might’ve left behind on the surface.
Now that you have fresh and clean mushrooms, it’s time to learn how to dry them in the oven. You’re going to need a sharp knife, a cutting board, a few paper towels, a baking sheet, and some parchment paper. Let’s begin!
Once they’ve cooled, you can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Don’t forget to label the said container so you know exactly how old your mushrooms are.
Another option is to let the mushrooms dry on their own, but you still have to follow some specific steps to ensure they don’t grow mold as they’re air-drying. For this method, you’re going to need either a string and a sewing needle, or an open container.
Bear in mind that weather conditions have a great impact on the drying process of mushrooms. If you live in a place with high humidity levels, air-drying mushrooms are not ideal because they will mold.
Morel mushrooms are actually more related to the truffle than they are to other mushrooms. They’re edible and highly prized by chefs and foodies alike for their earthy and nutty flavor and distinctive honeycomb texture and shape.
While morels, unfortunately, have a very short season, they can be preserved and keep their texture and flavor as if they were freshly picked.
These mushrooms require a bit more cleaning than other varieties, as a paper towel can’t get the dirt from the honeycomb sides. Many people instruct that you soak them in cold water and swish them around, but we recommend a quick rinse while shaking them to de-bug. Emphasis on quick. Then, pat them dry to remove as much moisture as possible
Afterward, you can use any of the aforementioned techniques to dry your morels. The air-drying process is exactly the same as with regular mushrooms, but dehydrating them in the over will take longer. You can expect them to take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to fully dry, depending on their size. Make sure to check on them often to avoid wasting your precious morels.
Properly dehydrated mushrooms can be turned into powder for easier and more convenient storage. Use your food processor or blender to pulverize the mushrooms until they turn into a fine powder. Let the powder settle for a few minutes before opening the lid because blending mushrooms can create a cloud of dust within the appliance’s chamber.
If you notice any small chunks in your mixture, use a fine mesh strainer to separate them for a second round of blending.
Once they’ve finally become a fine powder, combine it with the rest of the powder. Now you have homemade mushroom powder!
Just crack the oven door open a little bit to allow some of the extra heat to escape. This will keep the temperature below that 170 °F settings.
Dried mushrooms will keep for years. However, for optimal flavor, it’s recommended to use them within 6 months of drying them.
To rehydrate your dried mushrooms for cooking, simply soak them in warm water for 1 to 2 hours. If you’re in a rush, you can also place them in a heat-proof bowl, pour boiling water over them, and let them soak for about 30 minutes.
If possible, we highly recommend using that soaking water in cooking because it will be full of that rich mushroom flavor.
Drying your fresh mushrooms is an excellent way of preserving them because they’ll keep their flavor and nutrients for a very long time. Properly dried and stored, you can enjoy them in many recipes all year long. Just remember to follow the instructions closely to make them safe to eat and prevent mold from growing. Be sure to also check out our full guide on Drying Food!
What are you waiting for? Let’s start drying those mushrooms!
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