Mushrooms are having a moment. Whether it’s in the new Star Trek: Discovery’s “Spore Drive,” the extended selection of mushrooms in your food market (Portobello, Shitake, Maitake, etc.), or some incredible success stories in treating depression with micro-dosing.
Mushrooms have always been a big part of my life. I have wonderful memories of hunting mushrooms with my father in Switzerland. But what are mushrooms? Is it a plant? And why is it called mushroom hunting?
Watch this not so serious take on how to hunt chanterelles that Viana and I made a couple of years ago:
When mushrooms are on sale at your local food store or your mushroom hunting grounds produce an incredible summer flush after some heavy rain and warm nights…what to do, what to do.
Fresh mushrooms don’t last very long. Some types can go bad within a couple of days; while some others may last up to ten days when properly refrigerated (in a paper bag with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture).
How To Prepare Mushrooms
Mushrooms are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. The most popular way to prepare them is by sautéing the mushrooms with a little salt, in a medium-hot pan, without any cooking fats. The mushrooms will release their water within a couple of minutes. That’s when you add a little stock or wine and wait for them to soak it all back in. I call it “feeding the mushrooms.” Finish with some heavy cream, chopped chives, and serve over pasta. Delicious.
That’s what our ancestors did. Mushrooms are an excellent candidate to be dried. Slice and dry them in a food dehydrator for a couple of hours at 120°F. Store in a glass jar for up to a couple of years. This way, you’ll always have little umami bombs ready whenever desired. Before cooking with dried mushrooms, reconstitute them. Cover them with warm water for about 20 to 30 minutes. Reserve the soaking liquid and use it in the dish you’re making. When they’re nice and soft, squeeze out the excess water by hand (make sure to keep those juices as well), chop them, and cook and treat them like you would fresh ones.
The water you soaked them in will be cooking liquid that will turn any meal into earthy, umami-intensive goodness. That’s my favorite way to treat shiitake mushrooms.
Fact: 1 oz of dried shiitake mushrooms will reconstitute into approximately 8 oz.
Freezing mushrooms is another excellent way to make them last longer. Sauté without any cooking fats for about 6 minutes, until they release their water and soak it back in. Just make sure not to crowd the pan. If they touch, they’ll steam and can get a little mushy.
Before you put the sautéed mushrooms in freezer bags, place them on a baking sheet in one layer and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Once the mushrooms are frozen, you can then put them in freezer bags. When you’re ready to use: Remove from the freezer, thaw, and add to any stir fry, soup, or stew to add a little forest to your meal.
But wait, there’s one more:
Why Mushroom Jerky?
Why do we like jerky? It’s delicious, nutritious, and easy to carry when outdoors. Jerkies are traditionally meat-based. But what if you love jerky but don’t eat meat? Voilà, mushroom jerky!
What Kind Of Mushrooms Are Good For Mushroom Jerky?
So far, all that I’ve tried. An excellent choice is large portobello caps sold in food stores. They’re easy to slice and very meaty (probably the closest to a piece of beef jerky regarding texture and mouthfeel). I also made some chanterelle and shiitake jerky; both turned out perfect. Next time, I’ll try oyster mushroom jerky.
How To Prepare Mushrooms For Mushroom Jerky (Portobello Caps)
Like with all fresh mushrooms, first you have to clean them. You can use a paper towel or a vegetable brush to brush off the dirt. An excellent tool is a toothbrush. Once they’re clean, trim the bottom of the stem. This part can get a little tough after being exposed to air for a couple of days. Next, slice the portobello caps into about 1/2” pieces.
Best Marinade For Mushroom Jerky
I’ve been making beef jerky for many years, so I used my beef jerky recipe for this marinade. Good choice.
I recommend starting with my recipe for the marinade. Once you get a feel for it, start experimenting with different ingredients and ratios to make your own mushroom jerky marinade.
Just one word about the acidic part of the marinade: most jerky recipes recommend using either apple cider vinegar or something similar. Instead, use a little pineapple juice. It helps with tenderizing the meats and mushrooms, and also adds just a hint of sweetness.
Mix all the ingredients, pour into a Ziplok bag, add the sliced mushrooms, and squeeze out as much air as possible before closing the bag.
Tip: Use a straw to remove most of the air from the bag before closing it. Stick a straw into the Ziplok on the side where the slider will seal the bag. Move the slider against the straw. Suck out the air and fully close the bag. Pretty cool, eh?
After adding the mushrooms, carefully massage them so they all get evenly coated with the marinade. Marinate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight. Turn the bag a couple of times to ensure that the marinade reaches every part of every slice.
Drying Mushrooms In A Food Dehydrator
Once you’ve set up your food dehydrator, remove the mushroom slices from the bag, let any excessive marinade drip off, and place the slices on the drying rack in a single layer. Make sure they don’t touch.
After about two hours, check to see how quickly your mushrooms are drying. The last batch I made took about 3.5 hours in the food dehydrator. They got just slightly crispy on the outside, while staying nice and chewy on the inside. Check every 30 minutes or so to achieve your desired dryness.
If you’re thinking about regularly drying mushrooms (or meats, fruits, herbs, etc.), I strongly recommend investing in a food dehydrator. Their design lets you dry so much more food within a small space compared to using an oven.
Tip: Mushrooms are fungi. There’s no need to cook them to a specific CDC-recommended internal temperature.
Storing Mushroom Jerky
Mushroom jerky is not thoroughly dried mushrooms. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
How To Use Mushroom Jerky
Any way you like it. Grab a couple before hitting the bike path or the hiking trail. Cut in smaller pieces and top your next salad with it. Add some to your next bowl of ramen. Give some to your friends.
Fall In Love With Mushrooms
Mushrooms are awesome. Even if you’re not a mushroom hunter but still think that these living things are very intriguing, I put together a littler starter list to whet your appetite:
Documentary on Netflix:
TED talk on YouTube:
Love mushrooms? Check out a few more of our articles & recipes now!
- Chanterelles – How To Find And Cook These Delicious Mushrooms
- Mushrooms – The Original World Wide Web
- Chicken Of The Woods
- Mushroom Risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano and Fresh Italian Parsley
- Spinach Mushroom Omelette with Parmesan
- Creamy Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms and Fresh Parsley
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Mushroom Jerky Recipe
- Food dehydrator
- 18 oz large portobello caps
- 1/4 c light soy sauce
- 1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp liquid smoke (hickory)
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp pineapple juice
- *For a spicy version, simply replace 1 tsp liquid smoke with 1 Tbsp hot pepper flakes.
- Clean portobello caps with a paper towel or brush and slice into about 1/2” pieces.
- Mix all the ingredients and pour into a Ziplok bag.
- Add the sliced mushrooms and squeeze out as much air as possible before closing the bag.
- After adding the mushrooms, carefully massage them so they all get evenly coated with the marinade.
- Marinate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight. Turn the bag a couple of times to ensure that the marinade reaches every part of every slice.
- Once you’ve set up your food dehydrator, remove the mushroom slices from the bag, let any excessive marinade drip off, and place the slices on the drying rack in a single layer. Make sure they don’t touch.
- After about two hours, check to see how quickly your mushrooms are drying. The last batch I made took about 3.5 hours in the food dehydrator. They got just slightly crispy on the outside, while staying nice and chewy on the inside. Check every 30 minutes or so to achieve your desired dryness.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
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