Whether you are growing your own mushrooms at home, love to buy mushrooms at the market, or you’re exploring the world of mushroom foraging, eventually you will end up with the following situation: Too many mushrooms and a risk that they will start to go bad! Unlike many foods we eat, mushrooms do not respond well to being frozen! So how can you store mushrooms to last a long time? The answer to this problem is mushroom dehydrating, or mushroom drying.
Unfortunately fresh mushrooms like everything else, do not last forever. Fresh mushrooms such as white button or king oyster mushrooms can be kept for about 10 days in the fridge before they start to turn. The first signs that mushrooms are starting to lose their vibrancy is usually a change in appearance from a fresh and full looking fungi, to a dry wilted mushroom with a change in color.
Not only do mushrooms lose some of their flavor if they have been stored too long, they will also lose some of their health benefits, and in the case of medicinal mushrooms they will start to lose their potency too. For this reason, when you have come across a large harvest of mushroom, storing them correctly as soon as possible will allow you to keep great tasting a potent mushrooms for potentially years. Below we will explain the two most common methods for preserving mushrooms – dehydrating with a dehydrator, and drying in an oven.
Why you should try to avoid freezing mushrooms:
For gourmet mushrooms the process of freezing mushrooms is strongly not recommended, this is because the high water content of mushrooms leads to destruction of the mushroom at a cellular level. When frozen the expansion of water as it turns to ice destroy the cells that comprise the mushroom. Subsequently the characteristic texture of the fungi is unrecognizable when subsequently thawed and cooked. Furthermore with medicinal mushrooms, it has been reported that the potency of the mushroom once frozen is reduced.
How to Dehydrate Mushrooms Using A Dehydrator
Using a dehydrator to dehydrate your mushrooms is the easiest way possible to store and preserve your mushrooms. In fact most dehydrators even have settings specifically for mushrooms.
The benefits of using a dehydrator over an oven is that you can usually use a lower heat setting with a higher fan speed in comparison to an oven. This is beneficial when dehydrating medicinal mushrooms as it allows you to evaporate the moisture from the mushroom without the risk of heat denaturing the medicinal compounds such as psilocybin.
- When using your dehydrator, use the low setting ( usually 45 to 59 degrees Celsius)
- You can slice or place your mushrooms in whole, note that they will shrink dramatically in both weight and size one dried ( losing up to 90% weight)
- Run your dehydrator until the mushrooms are ‘cracker dry’- they should be able to break apart in your hand like a dry cracker – this will take anywhere from 5-12 hours. So it is helpful to leave the dehydrator running over night.
- After you have dried your mushrooms, store them in an air tight container with an oxygen absorber,
Using this method the dried mushrooms are able to last for years. Even medicinal mushrooms containing psilocybin can remain potent for over a year using this method.
Most dehydrators have low energy consumption especially when used on a low setting, so the money you save in storing mushrooms will far out weigh the cost of running the dehydrator.
How to Dry Mushrooms Using An Oven
If you do not have a dehydrator, the next best thing to use in an oven. These are found in nearly every home in the country.
To dry your mushrooms in an oven, simply turn the oven to around 140F/60Celcius
Slice your mushrooms to reduced the drying time,
Ensure they are thoroughly dry by blotting with a paper towel ( you do not need to wash your mushrooms depending on your substrate( eg masters mix), if you have found your mushrooms foraging, you may wish to wash and dry them first however)
Place them on baking paper on a baking tray, ensuring they do not overlap.
Leave them in the oven for 45 minutes flip and leave for another 45 mins. Keep the oven door slightly ajar during this process to prevent steaming of the mushrooms. As mushrooms are over 90% water they will be loosing significant mass during this process. If the steam is trapped inside the oven, a risk of cooking the mushrooms is present.
Continue to check your mushrooms and flip every 45 mins until they are dry to the touch and break easily when bent. They will continue to ‘crisp’ up after you have removed them from the oven. Total drying time will depend on the size and thickness of your mushrooms, but should take at least 2 hours.
Store the mushrooms in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber, this will allow you to keep your mushrooms indefinitley.
What to do with dried Mushrooms
Now that you have stored your mushrooms correctly, you can try some of the many uses of dried mushrooms, here are just some of the top suggestion:
- Grind the dried mushrooms in a coffee bean grinder to make a fine powder. This can then be used to make capsules for micro dosing, or making your own mushroom supplements! ( you could even replicate the ingredients of common mushroom supplements for brain/liver health etc)
- Make a mushroom stock or soup base for cooking by adding boiling water to a pot of dried mushrooms and allowing to sit for 1 hour
- Make your own mushroom seasoning with umami flavors using dried shitake mushrooms and salt.
- Season sliced dried mushrooms for a nutritious alternative to potato chips ( and much healthier)
- Use the dried mushrooms to make mushroom chocolate or mushroom gummies
- Make your own Mushroom Jerky!