What You Need To Know About Using Dried Mushrooms

They're bold-flavored, delicious, and don't go bad easily.

Dried mushrooms can be a miracle in the kitchen if you know how to use it. Available usually at the spice section of the grocery store are bags upon bags of dried shittake mushrooms and little pouches of wood ear mushrooms or tenga ng daga. You can also get dried porcini mushrooms online! Once rehydrated, these mushrooms can more than double in size.

These convenient, affordable mushrooms are definitely a must-have in your pantry. Not only are they generally cheaper than the fresh kind, but when stored correctly, they can last indefinitely! Compare that with expensive, fresh mushrooms that can go bad, covered in mold, in just a few days in your refrigerator and you'll be saving some serious amount of money.

Another great thing about dried mushrooms is that the dehydration process actually concentrates their flavor. Once reconstituted, you then get more flavorful, aromatic mushrooms, but also, as a bonus, you get an umami-packed mushroom broth. With these benefits, you better master the art of using these bold-flavored mushrooms!

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Photo by Patrick Martires

You're probably curious how to use these dried fungi. Here are the steps to preparing dried mushrooms:

1 Except for dried shiitake mushrooms, rinse dried mushrooms well.

Shiitake mushrooms are the only mushrooms that grow on logs while all other mushrooms grow on dirt. You don't want dirt on your food. So, before even reconsistituting the mushrooms, rinse them well to get rid of dirt and debris.

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2 Rehydrate mushrooms for 20 to 30 minutes in warm water.

Don't use boiling water. In fact, tepid, warm bathwater is best which won't damage the aroma and flavor of the mushrooms.

Simply cover the mushrooms with enough water and weigh them down with a pot's lid or a small plate to keep them from floating.

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3 Strain and save the mushroom broth.

Once the mushrooms have softened, be sure to save the flavorful, umami-packed broth. If using purely shiitake mushrooms, the stock is ready for use right after straining. Otherwise, you'll want to run the liquid through a fine mesh or cloth to get rid of any dirt or dust.

4 Trim the hard chewy stems of the mushrooms.

The stems have a hard time reconstituting so trim them off. You can simmer the stems in a little water for even more broth. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

5 Cut the mushrooms to size.

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Once they're plump and soft, you can easily cut the mushrooms. Remember, that to begin with, you should pick whole mushrooms which keep their flavors best.

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There is another way to use dried mushrooms:

An easier way to use dried mushrooms is to grate or grind them while they're dry. You can then use this to top risotto, popcorn, or whatever fits your fancy. Be wary though of adding mushroom to fish, as its strong earthy, umami flavors can overwhelm it.

According to Andy Baraghani, senior food editor of Bon Appetit, dried mushrooms, as long as they're kept dry in an airtight container, in a cool dark place like your cupboards or your freezer, can last indefinitely. However, throw them away if bugs find their way in! 

You're all set! Don't forget to grab a bag of dried mushrooms the next time you're at the grocery store!

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