How To Dry Shitake Mushrooms
Dry Shiitake tea, Shiitake soup with rice vermicelli, shiitake stir-fry, Shiitake omelet are just few of the delicacies that can be prepared from Shiitakes. If you like using this oriental ingredient then it is only practical that you learn how to dry shiitake mushrooms as they can be preserved well in this manner. Dried Shiitakes are a perfect addition to your Chinese and Japanese dishes and I am sure once you try these dry Shiitake Mushrooms you will never want to miss them in the future.
So, here are some instructions on how to dry shiitake mushrooms and serve them for future use!
The fresh shiitake mushrooms you have purchased from the store will last in a paper bag in the refrigerator for a maximum of 2 weeks. If you want them to last longer then you will have to dry them. Drying the mushrooms also concentrates their flavor.
Wash your shiitake mushrooms in a colander under cool running water so that any dirt including insect remnants and other contaminants are removed.
Slice your shiitake mushrooms into thin uniform strips. Slicing the shiitake mushrooms will help in drying them faster and evenly. Also, slicing ensures easy usage of these ingredients in your recipe.
Make a strong saline solution with plain water and salt and then immerse the sliced shiitake mushrooms in it. This will kill the insects and remove the dirt stuck between the gills of the shiitake mushroom. Pat the mushrooms dry with paper towels.
Now you can dry the shiitake mushrooms by either using the dehydrator or by air drying or even oven drying them.
Take the cleaned shiitake mushrooms and spread them in your dehydrator. Follow the instructions that come with the dehydrator. You have to ensure that you dehydrate your mushrooms until they are light and dry, but not brittle. They should be slightly flexible.
You can also dry your shiitake mushrooms in your oven. Spread them on a baking sheet with enough space in between them and pop them in to your oven. Keep the oven's heat close to 200 degrees Fahrenheit or as low as possible and then leave the oven door open. Leave mushrooms in the warm and open oven until the shiitake mushrooms are dried.
Spread the sliced mushrooms in a single layer on a baker's cooling rack and then drape a thin cheesecloth over them. Weigh down the corners of the cheesecloth with weights and then place the tray in a dry and open spot. Remember that place you choose should be well - ventilated and warm; the window sill or adjacent to an air vent or fan. You will have your dried mushrooms in hand within a week, provided you check on them once in a while and confirm that no mold has set in. It will be difficult to air dry mushrooms in humid climate.
You could also simply string them using fishing line or colored thread and then hang and dry them in a breezy but dry spot. It should take a close to a week for the mushrooms to dry in both cases but it might take longer if your location is subjected humid climate.
Use air tight containers like glass jars which can be sealed with its lids to store the dried shiitake mushrooms. Place a dried paper towel on top of the mushrooms in the jar so that any leftover moisture will be absorbed. Store the containers in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight
Tips and Warnings
The dried shiitake mushrooms will be chewy and leathery in texture with a distinct smoky sweetness.
Remember that 1 lb. of fresh mushrooms is equal to 3 oz. of dried mushrooms.
When using dried shiitakes in place of fresh mushrooms you have to soak the mushroom slices in boiling water for about 20 minutes or until they become plump. You can also simply steep them in warm water for 30 minutes. You can use the soaking water to a gravy or soup or even take it as a nourishing drink.
Before adding the dry shiitake mushrooms to any dish, ensure that you remove its tough stems as they are extremely tough and fibrous. These stalks can be saved up and used in bouquet garni to make stock or even steeped to make a refreshing and healthy cup of tea.
Dry Shiitake mushrooms can be cooked in various ways: It can be sautéed, stir fried, broiled or baked. It can be used as a side, garnish, to make a sauce with white wine and heavy cream.
Shiitake Mushrooms are high in protein, low in fat and a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Shiitake Mushroom Trivia
They usually grow on oak trees and from this comes it’s name shiitake where “shii” means shiia or oak tree “take” means mushroom in Japanese. In China it is known as hsaing ku, which means fragrant mushroom.
Shiitake mushrooms are considered to be a symbol of longevity in many Asian countries and are native to Japan, China and Korea.
During the Ming Dynasty the mushrooms were considered to be the “elixir of life” and thus reserved as royal food. These mushrooms were also used as medicine to cure various ailments including cold, flu, sinus, headache, measles, worms, constipation, hemorrhoids, gout, liver disorders, nutritional deficiencies, poor circulation, and sexual dysfunction.
Today in the western world, it is believed that the mushrooms strengthen the immune system and provide a high dose of antioxidants. They are also expected to help in lowering cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, herpes, and other viral infections