Ever wondered how to dry mushrooms at home? Here we explore three easy ways to dry and preserve mushrooms that will allow you to enjoy that earthy flavor long after the expiration date.
Packed full of healthy B vitamins and antioxidants, mushrooms make a great addition to any healthy diet. Mushrooms, of course, have long been known as ‘meat’ for vegetarians, as they offer the same hearty flavor and texture and pack much of the same nutritional punch as real meat.
By drying mushrooms, you can increase their shelf life without compromising on flavor and nutrition, and best of all, you can do this sustainably and naturally at home without the need for any special equipment.
Please be aware that if you are foraging for mushrooms on your own, you need to exercise caution, picking and using only those mushrooms that are completely harmless and safe for human consumption.
How to Dry Mushrooms at Home: #1 Air Drying
The cheapest, easiest, and most natural way to dry mushrooms at home is by simply air drying them. There really isn’t much to the process, so there is no excuse for letting those excess leftover mushrooms go to waste.
- Place your mushrooms whole or sliced in an open container. Make sure the container has proper airflow. For example, you can use a colander or brown paper bag with improvised holes.
- Leave them out to dry for about a week. Check on the mushrooms occasionally to ensure that they are drying evenly and not developing any rot or mold.
- Once they are completely dry to the touch and do not change shape when squeezed, you can store the dried mushrooms in a cool dry place for up to 2 years.
#2 Drying Mushrooms in the Oven
Using your oven to dry mushrooms is faster than air-drying, but also uses much more energy. For the environment’s sake, try to use this method only when it’s absolutely necessary.
- Firstly, you will need to clean your mushrooms but try to avoid using water to do so. A soft brush should do the job, but if you must use water for stubborn dirt, use it sparingly.
- Slice the mushrooms thinly, about 1/8 of an inch thick should do. Any thicker, and it will take longer to dry the slices.
- Arrange the sliced mushrooms on baking sheets in a single layer, avoiding any overlapping. Do not use oil, as this only prolongs the drying process.
- Bake the mushrooms in a pre-heated oven at 150°F for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, take out the baking tray and turn the mushroom slices, if you see any water that has sweat out of the mushrooms, blot away the excess moisture gently using an unbleached paper towel.
- Cook for an additional hour.
- At this point, the mushrooms should be completely dried out. If not, you will need to repeat Steps 4 and 5 until they are dry.
#3 How to Dry Mushrooms with a Dehydrator
Similar to oven drying, dehydrating mushrooms is convenient and easy, but also uses a large amount of electricity and so is a less sustainable option than air-drying. Using a dehydrator to dry your mushrooms will take longer than using your oven, but requires very little attention from you during the process.
- Clean and prepare your mushrooms. Keep in mind that dehydrating your mushrooms whole vs. sliced will greatly affect drying times, so you will need to adjust accordingly. As a rule of thumb, dehydrating mushroom slices at 135°F can take up to 3 hours, while whole mushrooms can take as much as 7 hours to fully dry.
- Spread out your mushrooms evenly on the trays and stack them in the dehydrator.
- Set the temperature and timer.
- Check on your mushrooms occasionally during the dehydration process. When they are fully dried, take them out and allow them to cool.
- Once fully cooled, they are ready to be stored in airtight containers for later use.
How to Store & Use Your Dried Mushrooms
It is all-important that you allow your freshly dried mushrooms to cool completely before placing them in containers for storage. Keep them in a cool and dry place out of direct sunlight. Believe it or not, most mushrooms once dried properly can keep for years. Plastic airtight containers, glass, or ceramic jars with a lid will all do just fine. Dried mushrooms can also be stored in the freezer and after thawing will lose very little of that rich intense flavor.
The flavor of a dried mushroom is slightly more robust than a freshly cut one, making them a fantastic addition to broths, stews, soups, braises, and stir-fries. Depending on your personal tastes, use them sparingly in your recipe so they don’t overpower the other ingredients.
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