I can be lazy. I admit it. I wait for sliced mushrooms to go on sale, and then I buy lots of them, rinse the residual compost (or whatever—I don’t want to think about it) off them, drain them, and shake them onto the dehydrator trays. Easy peasy.
It only takes about 20 hrs. to dry them. I put some in yesterday afternoon, and by this morning, they were done. I don’t have to slice them, and I’ll always have mushrooms on hand for my gluten-free Eggplant Lasagna. And if you haven’t tried that dish, you should when fresh eggplant is available again. (I just planted the ones I started from seed in March into the greenhouse planting beds!)
You can make the lasagna without mushrooms, but they do add a texture and earthiness that I think enhances the flavor of the whole dish. Dried mushrooms are also great in soups or stews or dishes like Creamy Polenta with Mushroom (and Meat) Fricassee. (Don’t be afraid to try various meats in this dish. Beef stew meat will work perfectly well, as will any red meat. I just happened to use bear meat.) This is a hearty dish for fall and winter that will reward you for taking the time to dry mushrooms when they’re on sale.
You can substitute dried mushrooms in any cooked dish that calls for fresh mushrooms. I always rehydrate the mushrooms for about 5 minutes in a bowl with enough warm water to cover them, then add both mushrooms and liquid to the dish.
The beauty part about drying mushrooms? The dehydration process intensifies the flavor of white button mushrooms. You know how the chefs on the food channels always say something like: don’t buy white button mushrooms because they have no flavor? (Yeah, they always want you to buy the expensive mushrooms, don’t they?) Well, dried white mushrooms have lots of earthy, mushroom flavor. And while they’re drying, your kitchen (or wherever you park your dehydrator) smells like you’re making the most incredible mushroom sauce.
Dried mushrooms last practically forever. Well, for two years, at least. Look at the label on the jar on the left. Those were dried almost two years ago, and they’re still perfectly good.
Time to fill up another jar.