Dehydrating mushrooms is the process of removing their moisture content through a drying process.
Rehydrating mushrooms is the process of restoring their moisture content after they have been dehydrated. This process not only brings back their plumpness and natural texture but also revives their flavors.
These methods of food preservation have been used for centuries and for good reason. Not too long ago folks didn't have access to refrigerators so they relied heavily on preserved foods to get their nutrients, flavors, and have a varied diet.
Today we still use a lot of these methods, but not nearly as much as our ancestors.
Why Do They Dehydrate Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are dehydrated for several reasons, but it's primarily to extend their shelf life and preserve flavor. Dehydration removes the moisture content from fungi, making them less prone to spoilage.
By removing water, the growth of bacteria, mold, and other microorganisms is inhibited, helping to extend the product's shelf life. They can be stored for longer periods without refrigeration, making them convenient for storage and transportation.
This also means people can experience incredible, high-quality products year-round. Dried mushrooms are super light and small which makes it easier to transport and store them, especially if you have limited space.
Lastly, the process intensifies the flavors which is great for soups, stews, and sauces where you want a load of umami. Don't toss the soaking liquid because that can be turned into a delicious broth.
How to Rehydrate Mushrooms
The first order of business is to pick out the type of mushrooms you want to rehydrate and the recipe you're making.
Some popular options include porcini, shiitake, chanterelle, and morel. You should be able to find these at your local market, but if not there are a few online stores that offer a great selection.
We often use traditional porcini for risotto and one of our favorites, fettuccine with porcini. For that recipe you can also you a mix of different fungi.
Next, take them out of the package and gently brush off any visible dirt or debris. Don't rinse them off, just do your best to remove any dirt. Dehydrated mushrooms are notoriously gritty, this will be removed later in the process so don't worry about it too much.
Put the mushrooms into a bowl with high sides and then cover well with hot water. The water shouldn't be boiling but it should be hot. The amount will depend on how dirty the mushrooms are, the recipe you're making, and if you want to store the soaking liquid or use it right away.
Usually, if you're making a recipe that requires a broth that you'll use immediately it's fine to use a large amount of water. But if you're storing it then use less so it takes up less space in your fridge.
Let the mushrooms soak for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, if you have time to spare, you can use room temperature water and let them soak for at least 90 minutes or more. This will allow them to get nice and plump and fully permeate the water with loads of flavor.
Whatever you do, do not throw out the soaking liquid! You can use it for so many other great things. Set it aside for the time being.
Once the mushrooms are rehydrated, give them a quick rinse under cold water to remove any remaining grit. At this point, they are ready to be used and you can chop, slice, or cook them whole, depending on your preference.
Remember, rehydrated mushrooms have a different texture than fresh ones. They tend to be more tender and have a more concentrated flavor. They usually aren't best for frying because they've been soaking in water, so make sure to adjust your recipes accordingly. We find they work super well in 'wet' recipes like sauces.
What to Do with the Soaking Liquid
Mushroom soaking liquid can be used for so many delicious things! We love to use it as a base for sauces, soups, broths, and stews.
For example, you can put a twist on a ragu by replacing the typical vegetable or beef broth with the soaking liquid.
To do this make sure the liquid is very well filtered so you don't get leftover grit or dirt into your broth. If you've already filtered the liquid thoroughly skip this step. But if haven't filtered it well then follow the steps below:
- Heat the liquid until very warm.
- Prep a fine mesh filter with one or two paper towels over a heat proof bowl or pot. Alternatively, you can use a very fine cheesecloth but sometimes they aren't fine enough.
- Pour the liquid over the paper towel filters very slowly. Replace the paper towels if needed and continue until all of the liquid is very well filtered.
- Repeat these steps if needed.
By the end, you should have a very clean and fragrant soaking liquid that is ready to be used for all of your culinary experiments!
Can You Mix Dried and Fresh Mushrooms?
Yes, you can absolutely mix both products. Just make sure to rehydrate thoroughly before mixing the two together.
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