Drying Mushrooms

Preserving Your Fungal Bounty

Mycophile's Garden, Christopher Swinson

Some good mushrooms for drying are; maitake, blewits, boletes, oyster, shiitake, lobster, morels, and black trumpets

Using a Dehydrator with a Fan
Purchase a food dryer with a fan, but do not dry your mushrooms in the house or there will be spores everywhere. Mushrooms absorb smells easily, so don’t dry them near or in the garage where diesel, lawn mowers, etc., are stored.
Cut the caps and stalks into thin slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide, cutting out any bad portions. Arrange them on the drying racks, leaving a little space between them, then follow the manufacturer’s directions for dehydrating. It usually takes 6-10 hours at 110 degrees F. It depends on how wet and what type of mushrooms they are. Don’t consider them dried enough until they audibly snap in half. If they bend, they are not done.

Sun drying is best. Don’t dry them in the oven because it will only cook them. After cleaning the mushrooms, cut the caps and stalks into thin slices (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick). Arrange them on a large cooking rack or a window screen in a sunny location with good air flow. Drying racks need to be screened with stainless steel or new food-grade plastic-covered fiberglass screens, not galvanized. Take the drying racks or screens and stack them 2-3 high with bricks or something non-flammable in between. If possible allow 2 inches between the dryer and the floor or ground so warm air can enter and rise through the mushrooms. You can put a fan at one end of the dryer and turn it on low speed for faster drying.
If you are not using the sun to dry your mushrooms follow the directions in the previous paragraph, but also wrap the outside of the dryer with canvas and place a hotplate set on low heat underneath. Make sure the mushrooms are thoroughly dry before storing. If you dry them outside, you may need a tarp, covered deck, or tent to protect the mushrooms from showers. Whole, thin papery ones, such as winter chanterelles and small corals, dry fast (1-2 days). Medium density and larger mushrooms like big Lactarius mushrooms may take a week. Large meaty king boletes may need to be sliced first before drying.

Storing the Dried Mushrooms
If you only plan to store your dried mushrooms for a short time place in a glass jar with a good tight lid away from light and heat. Ziplock baggies let in too much air and moisture, and plastic containers do too. Label with the name of the mushroom and the date you stored them. If you want to store them for more than 2 months they are best stored in the freezer sealed in airtight freezer-strength plastic bags or vacuum-sealed. Label the packages with the mushroom’s name and date. Remember, drying isn’t cooking them, so they will still need to be cooked in a recipe or by themselves. Do not eat wild mushrooms raw.
This wouldn’t be complete without a mention of how to rehydrate mushrooms after they’re dried. You may not think about it, and I definitely didn’t at first, but the amount of time the mushrooms are rehydrated is very, very important when cooking with them. I like to rehydrate mushrooms just as long as they need, and no longer, typically 15-30 minutes is fine, especially when using a wet preparation.
Why? The flavor of mushrooms, as a general rule is very water soluble. When dried mushrooms contacts water, a little of the “soul” of the mushroom goes into it, and the amount of mushroom flavor contained in the water increases the longer the mushrooms are soaking. As well, over-rehydrated mushrooms, especially boletes, can have a kind of unpleasant, saturated texture, on the side of slugs. Depending on what you’re doing, it might not be an issue, for example, making a cream soup where the mushrooms will be pureed with their juice won’t make a difference

Checkout this website for additional information on drying mushrooms