Dried (and Delicious) Mushrooms
Not everyone has an indoor grow room to produce plump, fresh Shiitake mushrooms for the holidays (although you can come close with our TableTop Farms). If you grew your own on logs last summer and dehydrated the surplus, don't forget that Shiitake (and other dried mushrooms) make great gifts, especially if you can provide the recipient with some easy cooking ideas!
First, not every delicious fresh mushroom makes an equally delicious dried mushroom, which is something to consider before you actually go through the work of drying them. Keep in mind that the essence of each species of mushroom in its dried form is often very different from its fresh version.
Almost all mushrooms can be dried, but some are coveted in their dried form. Here is a respectable list:
Shiitake (Japanese forest mushroom, Chinese black mushroom, etc.)
King Bolete (cepes, porcini)
Here are some guidelines to follow if you are giving dried mushrooms as a gift:
1. Make sure the mushrooms are brittle dry. If you are using a home dehydrator, we suggest a medium setting and drying until all mushrooms are brittle. Sometimes they may soften if not stored in an airtight container and are prone to molding. A plastic freezer bag or canning jar with a properly tightened canning lid will do the trick. If they are soft when you divvy them up for gifts, just put them back in the dehydrator for an hour before re-packing.
2. The "general directions for use" label might read: These mushrooms, grown with love, can be stored for months at room temperature as long as the storage container remains tightly closed. For long term storage, store in the freezer. To use: Pour boiling water over the mushrooms in a bowl and let soak for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and save for use as a broth. Chop and sauté the mushrooms themselves (discarding the stem) and use as you would fresh mushrooms. ENJOY!