There is an abundance of fresh mushrooms available at certain times of the year. You may gather a huge pile of Morels in the spring or a flush of oyster mushrooms in the summer. But fresh mushrooms don’t keep for very long, so you will need to use them within a few days. What to do with the extras? A great solution is to dehydrate them. Read this article to learn how to dry mushrooms and keep them indefinitely.
What Types of Mushrooms Can Be Dried?
Many types of mushrooms are cheaper – or only available – at certain times of the year. What if the local store puts locally sourced Hen of the Woods or Lion’s Mane mushrooms on sale? What if you find a trove of Chanterelles in the summer? Or someone gives you a bag of Turkey Tail mushrooms in the fall?
Fortunately, just about all mushrooms can be dried for eating later. Dehydrating is a simple process that anyone can do at home. And once dried, your mushrooms will keep almost indefinitely.
How Can I Use Dried Mushrooms?
Dried mushrooms are a great addition to any dish from soups to meat. Just take a handful and throw them into the soup pot with other ingredients to add flavor. They are delicious in risotto and taste wonderful in stews.
Or you can soak them in hot water for a few minutes to rehydrate and use them in a stir-fry or a frittata.
You can also grind them into powder, and add the powder into lots of different dishes. In powdered form they are even good in smoothies. See our article entitled How to Make and Use Mushroom Powder for more information.
You can even make mushroom tea with your dried mushrooms. See our article, How to Make Mushroom Tea, for more information.
There are many ways that you can use your dried mushrooms.
Preparing Your Mushrooms to Dry
Before you dehydrate them, it is important to prepare your mushrooms. These steps are important regardless of which types of mushrooms you are using and which method you use to dehydrate them.
- Choose only clean or nearly clean mushrooms, because wet, muddy ones will probably not dry out successfully.
- You can clean your mushrooms using a damp paper towel or a soft brush, gently removing any dirt. Do not wash or soak the mushrooms, as the moisture can cause mold to form on the mushroom, which could make you ill.
- Chop the mushrooms up. The thinner the pieces, the better they will dry. Strips about 2-3 centimeters long and ½ centimeter wide, or less, are a good choice as they will dry quickly. And the size of the mushroom pieces will be great for making anything later on. (You can break them into smaller pieces once dried; chop when rehydrated and so on). You do not want to chop the mushroom slices too small, as they will dry into wizened lumps..
The Four Ways to Dry Mushrooms at Home
There are four easy methods to dry mushrooms at home, and they are all explained in detail below. These processes work for all types of mushrooms, from classics like Shiitake to wild and exotic ones such as Morels and Turkey Tails.
Drying Mushrooms in a Dehydrator
You can buy a food dehydrator online or from many stores. Food dehydrators are not as expensive as you may think, and they are a good option if you want to try drying other types of food as well. Prices generally start around $40 and go up as the machines are bigger and hold more food.
Here are the steps to dry mushrooms in a dehydrator:
- Depending on your machine, (read the instructions), either place the sliced mushrooms directly on the drying racks or on a piece of baking parchment, then put the parchment on the tray/drying racks.
- Make sure each mushroom slice is not touching or resting on another, as they can fuse together, leaving a thicker part that part doesn’t dry.
- Set your machine to a temperature preferably no higher than 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius). A setting of around 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius) takes a little more time but is a good temperature to avoid damaging the mushrooms.
- Check your mushroom every hour or two to see if they have completed drying. Be aware that some pieces might dry more quickly than others.
- How long total drying time takes will vary from machine to machine, (an average seems to be around 4 hours). Each type of mushroom also has its own time requirements. You will know they are ready when they are so dry that they crack in two when you try to bend a piece – with a ‘snap.’
Chefman Food Dehydrator Machine with 6 Trays — This is a food dehydrator that I use and recommend. There are cheaper ones, but the cheap ones have one preset temperature that is usually too high for dehydrating mushrooms. This one lets you set the temperature anywhere from 95￮F to 158￮F.
Dehydrating Mushrooms in the Oven
If you don’t want to spend the money, you can dry mushrooms without a dehydrator. Simply put them in your oven for a few hours. Oven-drying your mushrooms is a good option if you only rarely plan to dry mushrooms or other types of food.
Here are the steps to dry mushrooms in the oven
- Place the sliced mushrooms on a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray. Do not oil the tray or the paper as the mushrooms will absorb this.
- Preheat the oven to 150￮F (65￮C). When it reaches the right temperature, place the baking tray in the oven.
- After about an hour, remove the tray and turn the mushrooms over so that they dry evenly. Blot off any excess moisture you see with a paper towel.
- Put back into the oven for a further hour and test. As above, you will know that the mushrooms are ready when they are so dry that they crack in two when you try to bend a piece – with a ‘snap.’
- If they are not ready, turn them again, blotting off moisture, and return them to the oven until they are totally dry.
Drying Mushrooms Naturally
If you are lucky enough to live in a climate where it is often sunny, you can dry mushrooms in the sun, provided it is a dry heat and not humid.
Here are the steps to dry mushrooms naturally.
- Spread the mushrooms out on a drying rack of some sort, (bamboo or lattice will work well), and cover with netting to keep flies off. Find a good place to set them where birds, animals, and insects cannot get at them.
- Alternatively, use a sterilized needle and thread string through the strips. Then, hang the row of mushrooms, keeping a space between each slice. (Cover these with netting too to keep flies away).
- Drying could take a couple of days, depending on how strong the sun is, but you can always bring the mushrooms in at night and set them back out the following day.
- If it seems like the mushrooms are not drying well outside, pop them into the oven until they are dry.
How to Freeze Dry Mushrooms
You can freeze-dry mushrooms in your freezer, but the process takes some time.
Here are the steps to freeze-dry mushrooms.
- Place mushroom slices on a paper towel, again without any overlapping or touching, and then cover with another paper towel. Repeat this until all of your slices are covered with paper towels.
- Put the mushrooms and paper towel into a paper bag. The bag needs to be big enough that you do not need to bend your paper towel to get it inside the bag.
- Fold over the open end of the bag and place it flat in a freezer. The moisture escapes through the paper bag, and the mushrooms will dry – with time. How much depends on your freezer and the type of mushroom, but the final result is dehydrated mushrooms.
Storing Dried Mushrooms
Whatever method you use, allow the dehydrated mushrooms to cool totally before storing them.
Once they have cooled, you can put the mushrooms in a jar with a good seal.
You can also put your mushrooms in a plastic ziplock bag. Be sure to press out as much air as possible before sealing the bag.
Once the dried mushrooms are in a sealed container, You can place it in a closet or a cupboard. The most important thing is to keep them out of direct sunlight and heat, so that condensation doesn’t occur.
Rehydrating Your Mushrooms
You can rehydrate dried mushrooms in wine, beer, stock, or water. Just about any liquid works well. How much liquid you use depends on what you intend to do with the mushrooms afterward.
If they are going into a dish that has its own liquid (for instance, soup or casserole), you can cover the mushrooms and then use that liquid to add extra flavor to the dish. (In the case of risotto use the mushroom water to add to the rice).
The liquid from the dehydrated mushrooms will probably become a little cloudy. Don’t worry, this is normal. It can take an hour or so for some mushrooms to rehydrate totally, although many are ready faster.
Note: If the liquid is hot (not boiling), it will penetrate the mushrooms more quickly. Don’t use boiling water as that will cook the mushrooms.
If you want to have mushrooms on their own, a spray bottle is the method to use. Spread the mushroom pieces out and lightly spray them. Turn and spray again. Leave for 5-10 minutes and see how they feel. If they need more liquid, spray again and continue until they are ready to use.
If you don’t want to wait for your own mushrooms to dry, or if you want to try some dried mushrooms before starting the process on your own, here are a few good packaged dried mushrooms that you can order.
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Vigorous Mountains sells excellent dried Porcinis. This 3-oz container is perfect for pastas and other Italian recipes.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Onetang Dried Mushrooms sells whole dried Shiitake mushrooms in a one-pound bag. A pound will last quite a while.
Vigorous Mountains also sells dried morels. These are an expensive but delicious treat, and would make a nice gift for a friend who loves to cook.
Shiitake, Porcini, Oyster, Morels, Portabello, Maitake, Black Trumpet; the list goes on of mushrooms that can be successfully and easily dehydrated to use at a later date.
Keeping a container of dried mushrooms in your kitchen means you will never be without this wonderful flavor to add to your cooking.
Whether you dry mushrooms yourself or buy already dehydrates ones, they will quickly become a staple in your pantry. Dried mushrooms are as good as fresh ones, can be used the same way for the same dishes. They last forever too, (if dried correctly). What more could you want from what is fast being called the ‘superfood’ because of its many health benefits?
A few frequently asked questions:
How long do dried mushrooms last?
Dried mushrooms will last indefinitely if dried correctly and stored in a sealed container.
Where to store dried mushrooms?
Anywhere works, but make sure that they are out of direct sunlight or heat.
What temperature to dehydrate mushrooms
150 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest temperature you want to use. 135 degrees is slower but better, especially for more delicate mushrooms.
How to reconstitute dried mushrooms
Liquid is the only way to rehydrate your mushrooms. See the part of this article on Rehydrating. Alternatively, you can grind your dried mushrooms into mushroom powder and add the powder directly to dishes, without rehydrating first. See our article on How to Make and Use Mushroom Powder for more information.
How to Cook Dried Mushrooms?
You really cannot use dehydrated mushrooms directly without rehydrating them. It is only liquid that returns them to their original form, so whether you want to fry them, use as a pizza topping or something else, give them a drink first, as described above. Then use them exactly as you would use fresh mushrooms.
You can, however, add dried mushrooms directly to soups and stews without rehydrating them first.
What dried mushrooms make the best Risotto?
Dried porcini mushrooms. Steep them in water to rehydrate, then use that water to cook the rice. It seems to give a fuller flavor than using fresh porcini.
What can I do with dried Shiitake mushrooms?
The sky is the limit. Shiitake are great for adding to any Asian dish, soups, stews, casseroles, in a stir-fry, for making a sauce. Really, anything you wish.
Can I dry more than one type at the same time?
You can, but each type will probably not dry at the same time, so keep an eye on them and remove any pieces once they are dry.
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