Shiitake mushrooms can be dried in three ways: using a food dehydrator, an oven, or using the natural heat from the sun. Dried shiitakes have a meaty texture and delicious umami flavor, and make a healthy, plant-based meat substitute for backpacking meals.
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Drying Shiitake Mushrooms Guide
Preparing Shiitake Mushrooms for Drying
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a damp cloth. Avoid rinsing the mushrooms in water, as this can cause mushrooms to absorb excess moisture.
After cleaning them, cut your mushrooms into 1/2-inch pieces, or slice them down the center, depending on the shiitake mushroom recipes you plan to make with them.
Drying Shiitake Mushrooms In a Dehydrator
- Lay your mushroom slices in a single layer on a dehydrator tray. Ensure they do not overlap or touch.
- Set your dehydrator to 105°F, and place the mushrooms inside.
- Leave for eight to ten hours, checking regularly. Rotate the trays or flip the mushrooms as necessary to promote even drying.
- Remove them from the dehydrator once they are dry and brittle.
- Allow them to come to room temperature.
- Store them in a labeled, airtight container.
Drying Shiitake Mushrooms In an Oven
Use an oven to make dried shiitake mushrooms if you don’t have a dehydrator.
- Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.
- Lay out your mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the sheet in the preheated oven.
- Prop the door of the oven open with a wooden spoon – this improves airflow and allows humidity to escape.
- Let the mushrooms dehydrate for an hour, and then flip the mushrooms using a spatula.
- Place the baking sheet back in the oven for another hour.
- Remove a few pieces, and let them come to room temperature. Test them for dryness.
- If dry, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the mushrooms to reach room temperature.
- Store the mushrooms in a labeled, airtight container.
Drying Shiitake Mushrooms in the Sun
If you prefer more natural cooking methods, sun-drying is the best option. To dry mushrooms via sun-drying, you will need to place them in a sunny area that is not humid and has good airflow.
- Find the right spot. This should be somewhere with consistent light that is safe from roaming insects and animals.
- Lay the mushrooms out in a single layer on perforated trays, or hang them from a piece of twine. Ensure there is airflow all around the pieces, and they do not touch each other.
- They should take two days to dry. Check them regularly to ensure they are not spoiling.
- If the mushrooms are still a bit rubbery after two days, you can place them in an oven or dehydrator to remove the remaining moisture.
Are Dried Shiitake Mushrooms Good for You?
Dried shiitake mushrooms have a number of health benefits that should make you strongly consider adding them to your diet.
Dried shiitake mushrooms are low-carb, gluten-free, and have almost zero fat. They have a high amount of natural copper, contain compounds that have been linked with lowering cholesterol, and contain lentinan, which is said to stimulate the immune system.
Are Dried Shiitake Mushrooms Better than Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms?
There are benefits to both dried shiitake mushrooms and fresh shiitake mushrooms. Whether one is better than the other depends on how you plan to use them.
Benefits of Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms
- Less chance of spoiling or burning in the dehydration process
- More energy efficient (you don’t have to run an oven or dehydrator)
- No prep time required
- Straight from the garden to the plate
Benefits of Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- Can be bought in bulk and dried
- Can be combined with dehydrated sauces for instant meals
- Dried mushrooms don’t need to be refrigerated
- Great for backpacking meals
- Longer shelf life
- Takes up less storage space
- The drying process concentrates the flavor
- Rehydrates easily using hot water
What’s the Best Way to Cook Dried Shiitake Mushrooms?
Rehydrating your dried shiitake mushrooms begins by rinsing the mushrooms in cold water. Next, place them in a bowl and cover them with boiling water or boiling dashi to soak them. The soaking time should be between 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick the pieces are.
After soaking, strain the mushrooms with a fine mesh strainer. Retain the soaking liquid – it is a flavorful broth that can be added to rice dishes or made into mushroom soup.
Your rehydrated shiitake mushrooms should then be cooked. For best results, quickly saute the mushrooms and add them to your dish.
How to Use Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- Add them to stews and curries to add umami flavor
- Combine with noodles, soy sauce, and broccoli to create a delicious stir-fry
- For an Asian-style twist, add rehydrated shiitakes and scallions to miso soup
- Saute shiitakes and serve them with eggs on toast for a Japanese fusion breakfast
- Utilize their meaty texture for a plant-based alternative to meat in vegan recipes