Dehydrating mushrooms is one of the most effective ways to preserve them for long-term storage. Dried mushrooms stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark, and dry place or a freezer can last a long time. But what are the steps to dehydrate mushrooms?
To dehydrate mushrooms, you can use a variety of different methods depending on your preferences and the available resources. The 4 most common methods are using a food dehydrator, an oven, air drying, and sun drying.
If you’re looking for ideas and tips on how to dehydrate your mushrooms, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will discuss the various ways of dehydrating mushrooms, the benefits of dehydrating them, how to store them safely and how long they last.
Step-by-Step Guide for Dehydrating Mushrooms
There are 4 core dehydrating techniques you can use to dry your mushrooms, including:
- Using a food dehydrator
- Using an oven
- Sun drying
- Air drying
Let’s take a closer look at how to dehydrate your mushrooms using each of these methods:
Dehydrating mushrooms using a food dehydrator is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to get evenly dried mushrooms. And the number of racks your dehydrator has will determine how many mushrooms you can dry in one cycle. However, you should note that the more mushrooms you put in the rack, the longer they’ll take to dry.
Step by Step Guide to dehydrating mushrooms in a food dehydrator:
- The first most vital step is to check that all your mushrooms are fresh. After this, clean them and cut them out into thin slices between ¼ to ½ inch (0.635 to 1.27 cm) thick. You can use a sharp kitchen knife or an egg slicer to achieve the thin slices.
- Now arrange the thinly sliced mushrooms in your dehydrator tray and assemble your machine. When arranging your mushrooms, ensure you don’t overpack the racks. Check to see the pieces aren’t so tightly packed that they appear to be sitting on top of each other, ensure you leave a space between the slices.
- Turn on the machine. Use a lower heat setting for drying the mushrooms and avoid damaging your delicate fungi.
- Set the temperature. When doing this, be sure to check your machine’s user manual since different models come with varying temperature settings. For most standard dehydrators, you can set your temperature between 110-120° F (43-49° C). Under this temperature setting, it may take 6-8 hours to dehydrate thin slices (1/4 inch or 0.64 cm thick), while thicker ones may take up to 10 hours.
- Although this method doesn’t need a lot of babysitting, you should constantly check your fungi every hour or so and remove them once they’re dry.
- To gauge whether your mushrooms are ready, check if they’re crispy enough—they should break in half instead of bending. If they don’t break, then they’re still moist and thus need further drying.
- Once they are ready, turn off your machine and remove them. Let your mushrooms cool off before packing them in airtight containers for storage.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can simply use an oven. This technique applies the same concept as a food dehydrator—using external heat to drain away moisture from the mushrooms. However, this method requires a bit more babysitting.
Here are 6 simple steps to dehydrating mushrooms in an oven:
- Preheat your oven to no more than 150° F (66° C). It’s important not to exceed this temperature because too much heat can compromise the nutritional content of your dried mushrooms.
- Clean the fresh mushrooms and slice them into thin pieces between ¼ to ½ in (0.635 to 1.27 cm) thickness.
- Arrange the thinly sliced mushrooms in a baking pan or oven tray–do not use oil or non-stick spray. Ensure you leave enough space between the slices. Depending on the size of your oven, you can dehydrate a bigger bunch in one go.
- Place your tray in the oven and allow the slices to dry for about one hour. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow excess moisture to escape to speed up the process.
- After one hour, pull out the tray and flip the mushroom slices over. This is to keep them from burning while ensuring they dry evenly on both sides.
- Keep turning your mushrooms every hour for about three hours or until they achieve your desired dryness.
Using the sun to dry your mushrooms is one of the easiest and cheapest ways since you don’t need to acquire electrical appliances or incur electricity or gas charges. Additionally, it’s a good way to preserve your mushroom’s potency and flavor. On the downside, this method takes a little bit longer and only requires a sunny, non-humid spot.
Here are 4 steps to sun drying mushrooms:
- Begin by selecting an ideal spot. Look for a room that gets a lot of sun, a windowsill, or a flat roof. Additionally, the spot you choose should be well aerated, non-humid, and free from insects and animals.
- With an ideal place in mind, carefully clean your fresh mushrooms and cut them into thin slices.
- Spread them out in your chosen spot, ensuring they don’t lie on top of each other.
- Now allow the mighty sun to do its thing. Because this process is slow, it may take up to 3 days for your mushrooms to dry. Check your mushrooms a few times during the day to see their progress. Leave them drying them until they reach your preferred dryness.
When unpredicted weather changes occur, it may be hard for your mushrooms to dry completely even after a few days of sun drying. In such a case, you may be need to finish drying them off in a dehydrator or an oven.
Air drying is another easy, affordable, and efficient way of dehydrating mushrooms since no gas or electricity is needed—it simply uses moving air to wick away moisture. And although this method is time-consuming, it’s the best in retaining the flavor and potency of your mushrooms.
To air-dry your fresh mushrooms, you’ll need a sterilized needle and thread. Here are the steps:
- Slice your cleaned mushrooms into thin slices.
- Next use the sterile needle to pass the thread through the mushroom slices.
- Hang your ‘sewed’ mushrooms under direct sunlight in a well-ventilated, non-humid area away from animals and bugs.
Like sun drying, this method is a bit slower, and it may take 2-3 days for your mushrooms to dry completely. And although the whole sewing process seems like a lot of work, it’s worth it, given that your mushrooms will better retain their natural flavor.
Four Benefits of Dehydrating Mushrooms
Maybe you gathered a boatload of mushrooms from your last foraging trip or couldn’t resist the crazy sale at the grocery store, and you ended up with lots of mushrooms in your house. Dehydrating your mushrooms is a great way to preserve them to stock up your pantry.
Dried mushrooms have a long shelf life and, if properly stored, will last in your pantry up to 9 months and in freezer up to a year.
Just ensure you dry your mushrooms completely, pack them in airtight containers, store them in a dark, dry place in your pantry, and you’re good to go.
They can also be stored inside freezer-safe containers and frozen until you need them.
Generally, dehydrating entails removing water or moisture from your mushrooms. Mushrooms have a high percentage of water–about 92%–which is why they either rot or become moldy when not stored appropriately. By removing water from these watery fungi, you can store them for longer without them going bad on you.
Depending on your location, buying fresh mushrooms from the grocery stores can be rather expensive–some varieties more so than others. By dehydrating your mushrooms, you can stock up when there is a good sale at the grocery to store them long-term. Over time, this savings can be quite significant.
Dehydrating not only intensifies the flavor of mushrooms, but it also improves their texture. Some people can’t tolerate the textures of various mushrooms. If texture is something that keeps you from enjoying certain mushrooms, you may wish to try dehydrating them.
Dehydrating gives you the luxury of maintaining the deliciousness of mushrooms at your fingertips all year round. When properly stored, dried mushrooms can last up to a year. Proper storage means keeping them in airtight containers in a dark place within your pantry or freezing them using freezer-safe bags or containers.
After your mushrooms achieve the dryness you desire, you should allow them to cool down completely before packing them for storage.
Once they’ve cooled, pack them in airtight containers and place them in a cool dark place in your pantry or cabinet. Dehydrated mushrooms, just like their hydrated counterparts, are highly sensitive to light. Therefore, you should store your dehydrated mushrooms in the rear part of your cabinet, where it is likely to stay permanently dark.
A handy storage tip: Label your containers or bags to indicate the type of mushroom and storage date to avoid confusion when preparing meals.
You don’t need to keep your dehydrated mushrooms in the fridge. However, doing so will add to their already long shelf life. Don’t forget, when refrigerating your mushrooms, it’s important to indicate the storage date on the storage containers or bags.
This mainly depends on your taste buds and what you fancy in your mushroom dishes. Generally, dried mushrooms have a richer (more concentrated) flavor and meatier texture than their hydrated counterparts. However, the flavor depends on the dehydrating method used. Air drying is the best at retaining flavor.
Generally, both fresh and dried mushrooms are flavorful, depending on your taste preferences.
There generally a few variations of mushrooms in local supermarkets today. Luckily, you don’t have to stick to a limited few because you can dehydrate nearly all edible mushrooms, including:
- White Button
If you happen to gather wild mushrooms, be sure they are edible and not poisonous before dehydrating them.
It is possible to marinate your mushrooms before dehydration to add additional flavor. All you need to do is place your mushroom slices in your marinade for around four hours, or longer for more intense flavor. Then simply use your preferred dehydration method to dry.
Mushrooms do not need to be cooked before dehydrating them. Just ensure they are fresh and well cleaned before dehydrating. They will then be safe to use straight from your pantry or freezer anytime you want to make your favorite mushroom dishes.
It’s easy to dehydrate canned mushrooms, particularly when they come pre-sliced for you. All you need to do is drain and rinse your mushrooms (and slice them if you bought whole pieces). Then proceed with your chosen dehydration method the same as you would with fresh mushrooms.
Dried mushrooms are an easy and handy way of adding flavor to your dishes any time. However, given their dryness, it may be hard to incorporate them in all meal preps, meaning you need to rehydrate them before cooking. Rehydrating involves soaking dried ingredients in water to make them softer, plumper, and more ideal for eating and cooking.
Rehydrating dried mushrooms aims at restoring the moisture lost during dehydration to make them softer and pliable, thus easy to cook.
The rehydration process is simple, follow the steps below:
- Pour your dried mushrooms into a bowl.
- Add tepid water and cover them and allow them to soak for 15-30 minutes, depending on their quantity and the thickness of the slices. Don’t use hot water as it may interfere with your mushroom’s flavor.
- Soak them in a wide or tall bowl that will allow the rehydrated mushrooms to float on top while debris and other particles (if any) remain concentrated at the bottom of the bowl. You can swish your mushrooms vigorously to loosen any foreign particles that may be present.
- Once your mushrooms change from their dry form into being soft and pliable, lift them gently out of the water.
- Now strain the soaking solution to sieve out any foreign materials. You can use this mushroom water to add flavor to soups, stir-fry vegetables, or as a vegan/vegetarian-friendly substitute for chicken broth.
Your rehydrated mushrooms are now ready to cook. You can incorporate them in any mushroom recipe, such as making soup, stir fry, pasta sauce, and much more.
Keep in mind that rehydrating mushrooms results in two food products: the mushrooms themselves and the broth created as a byproduct of soaking them.
If not stored under the right conditions (in airtight containers in a cool dark place or the freezer), there is a probability of them going bad. However, since dried mushrooms don’t have any moisture, it may be hard for most people to tell when this has occurred.
Typically, the best way to tell if dehydrated mushrooms have gone bad is their smell. Mushrooms don’t have a strong odor, so if you open your container or storage bag and detect a strange smell from your fungi, it’s a clear indication that they’re beyond their useful life.