You can dehydrate mushrooms to preserve your home-grown mushroom abundance, or to take advantage of sales on commercial grown mushrooms. Dried mushrooms are versatile, useful, and easy to make, and can be used for food and medicine depending on the type you dry.
The best mushroom for drying is one you have on hand, and will eat once it is dried. Some mushroom options for dehydration include oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, button and portabella mushrooms, and wine cap mushrooms. You can also dehydrate medicinal mushrooms like reishi and turkey tail. If you are an experienced mushroom hunter, you can also dry wild hunted mushrooms like morels, lobster mushrooms, chantrels, shaggy mane, and puff ball.
Mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can get away with dehydrating. Peppers are great dehydrated, as are apples, and other fruits. You can even make jerky, or dehydrated cheese for hiking and camping snacks.
First, mushrooms don’t take much cleaning. They are grown without pesticides and herbicides, and do not need to go through specific cleaning solutions. You do NOT want to submerge mushrooms in water, as they will absorb extra water, become soggy, and lose their structure.
For button, wine cap, portabella and other soil growing mushrooms should be rinsed under running water and give a quick once over with a brush to remove any visible dirt particles or stains.
Oyster, shiitake, and other tree growing mushrooms will just need a quick rinse, and maybe use a brush to knock off bark particles, dust, or insects markings. Since these mushrooms are usually not grown in dirt, they should require minimal cleaning.
The cleaning exception, for tree based mushrooms, is lion’s mane mushroom. Due to this mushroom’s toothed growing style it should be lightly rinsed under a light mist of water, not sprayed or washed under a full powered tap. It does not need any brushing. Too heavy handling will knock off the outer “icicle” formations from the fully grown lion’s mane mushroom.
Medicinal mushrooms like reishi and turkey tail are hard, shelf style mushrooms. They will require just a wipe down with a damp cloth, at most, for cleaning.
Slicing Mushrooms for Dehydration:
Slicing decisions will be based on the type of mushroom you are dehydrating. Some, like button or portabella, are a bit large to dry whole.Others, like oyster, small shiitake, morel, and even just individually smaller mushrooms of button varieties, can be dehydrated whole or sliced in half.
Stems should be trimmed, when needed, before slicing. Compost the stems, any soft, slimy, or, in the case of some wild harvested ones, worm infested mushrooms.
For slicing larger mushrooms, you can use a sharp knife or something like a cherry or strawberry slicer. I don’t recommend using an egg slicer for mushrooms, as the wires may snap. The hand-held cherry and strawberry slicers are a little more sturdy, and less likely to break.
Slice large mushrooms into even slices, about 1/4 inch in thickness.
Flat mushrooms, like oyster, can be left whole. If a mushroom is small enough, like a small button mushroom or very small wine cap still close to pin stage, they can be dried just cut in half
Fill Dehydrator Trays:
Mushrooms only reduce by about 1/3rd when being dehydrated. However, they do reduce in size.
Fill your dehydrator trays with slices of mushroom. Fill right to the edge of the tray, and let the mushroom slices touch.
Be careful not to triple overlap the mushroom slices. A small amount of overlap is alright, as once the mushrooms start to dehydrate they will no longer be touching. But, if the slices are stacked on top of each other, they will not dry properly. So keep the trays to a single, touching but not overlapping, layer.
You do not need to blanch mushrooms before dehydrating them, as long as you will be cooking the dried mushroom before consumption. All mushrooms should be cooked before consumption, the dehydration temperature can count if you set it to 135F.
Once the trays are filled, place into your dehydrator of choice.
For regular slices, set the dehydrator to 125-135F for 3-4 hours.
If you are drying whole mushrooms, increase the dry time by 1-2 hours, but check after 3 or 4 and extend the time based on the condition of your actual in-process mushrooms.
Dehydrated mushrooms should be crisp and easily snap in half when they are fully dried. During storage they may soften and become less crisp, but if a mushroom feels leathery and flexible when in the dehydrator, it needs more drying time.
Storing Dehydrated Mushrooms
Dehydrated mushrooms, like all dehydrated food, should be stored in a sealed container and kept in a cool, dark and dry location. Glass jars work well for storing mushrooms, as do reusable glass containers. You can use plastic resealable bags for storage, if you are just processing a small amount of a specific variety and it wouldn’t make sense to use a more bulky container.
Dried mushrooms will last for 1-2 years with no degradation of quality.
Re-hydration and Use:
Re-hydrate mushrooms for use in stir-fry, roasts, or fried, by soaking for 2 hours in warm water. Drain, season and cook as normal. Mushrooms will be slightly chewy-er than fresh.
For use in soups and stews, particularly slow cooker ones, dehydrated mushrooms can be added without pre-soaking. Simply make sure your soup or stew has 1 cup extra liquid per 1/2 cup dried mushrooms that are added.
Traditionally reishi, turkey tail, and shiitake are used in dried form, to add flavor to broths. Simply add the dried slices to the broth when making, then strain out the still-firm mushroom pieces before serving.
Dried mushrooms can be powdered while still dried for use in recipes like this lion’s mane coffee.Print
How to dehydrate mushrooms for winter storage
- Clean mushrooms
- Wine cap
- Other variety
- Wash mushrooms and pat dry.
- Slice mushrooms into even 1/4 inch slices.
- Place mushrooms on dehydrator trays, they can be touching but not overlapped.
- Place trays in the dehydrator
- Dry at 125-135F for 4-6 hours, check for crispness and if the mushrooms are still leathery and flexible, dry for another hour or two longer.
- Once mushrooms are dry, let cool completely before placing in storage containers.
- Label and date your mushroom storage, and store in a cool, dry location.
Learn more about growing mushrooms at home
Sarah’s new book, Growing Mushrooms for Beginners, A Simple Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms at Home, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In this concise resource Sarah guides you step by step through growing mushrooms on logs, on straw, on wood chips, or even in Mason Jars at home. The book includes instructions for growing seven mushrooms including shiitake, oyster, lions mane, garden giant and more. Learn the unique characteristics, flavors, health benefits, and specific growing requirements for each mushroom as well as space saving tips and recipes to get the most out of your mushroom harvest. In this interview Sarah and Chris discuss ways to grow mushrooms in the garden, and highlight some expert tips from Sarah’s book, Growing Mushrooms for Beginners, A Simple Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms at Home.
Get your copy of Growing Mushrooms for Beginners now.