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How to Dry Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a rich, low-calorie source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. They’re touted for their nutritional value and make for a delicious ingredient in many recipes. Mushrooms come in both fresh and dried forms, and there is an ongoing debate regarding which type is best.

Each form has different uses and cooking preferences, along with tastes and textures. Dried mushrooms are a great alternative to fresh ones since they can be stored for longer and can substitute fresh mushrooms in most recipes. Moreover, drying mushrooms enhances their flavor, making them a great ingredient to add to soups, stews, pasta, and sauces.

Often, dried mushrooms can be expensive or hard to find. Fortunately, though, you can make your very own in the comfort of your kitchen. If you have extra mushrooms in the fridge (that are about to spoil) or are looking for more flavor intensity, we have you covered.

In this guide, we will explore the best ways to dry mushrooms, including in a dehydrator or oven, using a fan, air drying, and even drying them out in rice.

What Is the Best Way to Dry Mushrooms?

There are several different methods for drying mushrooms, most of which are pretty straightforward and can be done at home without any special equipment.

The quickest and most reliable way to dry mushrooms is by means of a dehydrator. Obviously, though, most of us don’t own this piece of equipment. The good news is that you can get good results using one of several other methods in just a few simple steps.

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Your home oven is a great alternative to a dehydrator. However, you can also air dry them in an open container, use a fan, or place them in dry rice. We will explore all of these methods in more detail below. But first, here are a few preparation tips before you begin the drying process:

  • Only use fresh mushrooms: Don’t use mushrooms that are starting to spoil, i.e., have black spots or mold.
  • Clean the fresh mushrooms: Fresh mushrooms often contain dirt, so it’s important to clean the mushrooms prior to drying. Either use a brush or wipe them with a damp paper towel. N.B. They should not be wet/soaked in water.
  • Properly slice the mushrooms: Your mushrooms should be cut into similar-sized pieces to ensure they dry properly. Whole mushrooms won’t dry adequately, while thick slices will take longer to dry. Thus, be sure to slice them small enough.
  • Remove surface moisture: If mushrooms are still wet when you start the drying process, they will steam instead of dehydrating. Therefore, be sure to remove excess water. Place the sliced mushrooms on a clean dish towel, loosely roll it up and squeeze gently.

Now that you know what steps to take prior to drying mushrooms let’s explore the different ways in which you can achieve this.

How to Dehydrate Mushrooms Using a Dehydrator

Dehydrators are specifically designed to dehydrate produce, making them ideal for drying mushrooms. However, they’re quite pricey and probably only worth the investment if you intend to dehydrate mushrooms regularly and love drying fruits and veggies too.

Indeed, though, using a dehydrator is an easy method that requires minimal overseeing.

Once the mushrooms are clean and properly sliced, arrange them on your dehydrator tray. For best results, lay the mushrooms in a single layer close together but leave a little space between for air to circulate. Close mushrooms dry quicker and more evenly.

The size of your batch and humidity can affect the drying time, so you may want to check on your mushrooms every hour or so.

Set the dehydrator temperature to 55°C/130°F and leave your mushrooms to dry for several hours. Typically, the process takes 6 – 8 hours; however, it can take quicker or longer depending on the thickness of your mushrooms. The size of your batch and humidity can also affect the drying time, so you may want to check on them every hour or so.

Also, be sure to follow the specific instructions given with your dehydrator machine since different types/brands may require different drying times.

Once dried, the mushrooms become crispy and will crack in half when you break them. Then, remove from the dehydrator and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. They should reach room temperature before storing them.

How Long to Dehydrate Mushrooms

How long it takes to dehydrate mushrooms depends on what method you use. As discussed above, it typically takes 6 – 8 hours in a dehydrator. However, very thin sliced pieces could dry in just 4 hours, while thicker slices may take up to 10 hours.

Oven drying has a slightly shorter average timeframe of between 2 – 4 hours. However, it requires more attention since you need to remove the mushrooms from the oven and turn them over a few times during the drying process.

The alternative methods discussed below, including fan drying, air drying, and drying with rice, all take a bit longer. For instance, fan drying takes a day or two, while air drying takes between 7 – 10 days.

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Drying Mushrooms in Oven

If you don’t have a dehydrator, your next best bet is to use your oven for drying mushrooms. Arrange the sliced mushrooms on baking sheets in a single layer – just like you would with the dehydrator. Place them close together, but make sure none are overlapping to ensure they all dry evenly.

Preheat your oven to 65 degrees C/150 degrees F; you need a low-temperature oven. Place the baking sheet with the mushrooms in the oven and cook for one hour. Remove and turn over the mushroom slices, then return to the oven for another hour.

Often, the mushrooms will be completely dried at this point. However, if not, turn them over again and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Continue the process of turning every 30 minutes until they are dry.

There should be no moisture left in them, and they should be crispy-dry when ready. To help speed up the process, you can pat the mushrooms dry each time you remove them to turn.

Air Drying Mushrooms

Another option for drying out mushrooms is to use air. This is a cheap and easy method because no electricity is needed. Plus, many believe that air drying retains the mushroom quality better. However, it is a time-consuming process.

There are two ways to air dry mushrooms:

  1. Place them in an open container with good airflow underneath and leave them to dry for about a week. A mesh colander works well. Be sure not to overcrowd the mushrooms – spread them out.
  2. String the mushrooms together and either hang them up to dry or spread them out on a tray or table. You can use a sterilized needle and thread to string them together. They should be dry after about a week.

In each of the above cases, be sure to place them in a well-ventilated area. Also, try to put them under direct sunlight if possible. As a bonus, exposing mushrooms to sunlight increases their vitamin D content.

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However, sun drying mushrooms is only effective in the open sun and free-flowing air. Additionally, air drying is not ideal if you live in a humid climate.

Typically, air drying takes between 7 – 10 days. The drying time varies depending on the size of the mushroom pieces and humidity levels. To expedite the process, you can partially dehydrate the mushrooms in the oven either before or after air drying. After is a good option if you’re getting impatient waiting for them to air dry.

Drying Mushrooms with a Fan

Fan drying is another good method for dehydrating mushrooms. Typically, a box fan works best. Lay the mushroom slices out on an absorbent material, like a paper towel, and place them on a flat surface. Next, set up the fan close to the mushrooms and turn it up to the highest setting.

The concept behind fan drying mushrooms is that the moisture is continually wicked away by moving air. It’s similar to how washing dries more quickly outside in a breeze.

You may need to combine fan drying with another method, like sun drying, to ensure optimal results.

This is not the most effective method since it’s not guaranteed to dry your mushrooms completely. You may need to combine with another method, like sun drying, to ensure optimal results.

Also, as the mushrooms become dry and lighter, there is a tendency for the fan to “blow them away.” So be sure to check on them regularly. Typically, fan drying will take a couple of days.

Drying Mushrooms with Rice

Lastly, some people may try drying magic mushrooms with rice. However, there are better substances to dehydrate mushrooms, like using a chemical desiccant.

Desiccants are solids that absorb water – they absorb the moisture in the air. Simply place the mushrooms on a paper towel inside a shoebox or a similar airtight container. Then, place the desiccant inside the box and close the lid. Wait for a couple of days for the mushrooms to dry.

Typically, this method works best when combined with another drying technique, like fan drying. As mentioned above, fan drying often doesn’t completely dry out mushrooms. In this case, you can use the desiccant technique to finish them off. You can give the rice a try in this instance since the mushrooms will already be mostly dry.

FAQ

What Is Important to Know When Drying Mushrooms?

Always clean the mushrooms before use. However, don’t rinse them under running water; instead, use a brush or damp paper towel. Also, ensure they’re completely dry before beginning the drying process.

Additionally, when using heating methods (oven or dehydrator), low heat is essential. If the temperature is too high, the outer layer of the mushroom will become too hard, making it difficult for the remaining moisture to escape. Moreover, heat may destroy active compounds in mushrooms.

Finally, when air-drying mushrooms, the air should be dry and not humid since humidity can slow down the process.

How to Store Dry Mushrooms

Firstly, make sure the mushrooms are completely dry before storing them. Also, allow them to cool down completely (if a heating method was used). Then, place them in an airtight container – glass jars work well. Store the jar in a cool, dark spot away from direct sunlight. If stored properly, they should last for over a year.

How to Use Dry Mushrooms

When you’re ready to use your dry mushrooms, you can rehydrate them or create a mushroom powder. To rehydrate mushrooms, place them in a heat-proof bowl and fill it with boiling water. Leave them to soak for 20 – 30 minutes before draining the water. Now they can be used just like fresh mushrooms.

What Mushrooms to Dry

Most mushrooms can be dried, though each variety will respond differently to dehydration. Shiitake and porcini mushrooms tend to be the most popular for drying, but you can experiment with various other types. Morel and black trumpet are also common choices.

Can Dried Mushrooms Go Bad?

When dried and stored properly, dried mushrooms won’t go “bad.” However, their quality will deteriorate over time. Typically, they keep well for up to a year. Also, if they’re not completely dry before storing, they may grow mold.

How to Dry Mushrooms (Final Thoughts)

Drying mushrooms is an excellent way to extend the shelf life and to get more flavor out of mushrooms. Moreover, rather than buying already dried mushrooms, which can be expensive and not readily available – you can dry mushrooms at home using minimal equipment.

Anyone wanting to learn how to dry mushrooms may be relieved to see that there are several easy and straightforward options. Mushrooms can easily be dried using heat or air. Typically, using a dehydrator or oven (heat) is the quickest and most effective method. However, if you live in the right climate, air drying can also work well.

No matter which method you use, cooking with mushrooms is fun, healthy, and tasty. As long as you ensure they’re completely dried and store them properly, you’re in for a treat.

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