Here are the easiest methods for drying porcini mushrooms at home.
You have a number of options to choose from for drying porcini mushrooms so you can enjoy them for the long term. Most of these methods use either air or heat as the drying agent.
Whatever method you chose, there are some things you should remember to guarantee efficient drying. Here are some things you should keep in mind …
- Clean the porcini mushrooms by brushing dirt away or by wiping it off with a dry paper towel. In case of stubborn grime, wipe it down with a damp cloth and remove remaining moisture with a paper towel.
- Do not wash, much less soak, the mushrooms. You don’t want the mushrooms to become waterlogged or moist. Otherwise, drying them will be really difficult.
- If you decide to use a food dehydrator or an oven for drying the mushrooms, apply the lowest setting. You don’t want high heat to adversely affect the active compounds found in edible mushrooms and compromise their health benefits.
- See to it that at the end of the process, the mushrooms are totally dry. You don’t want to simply roast the mushrooms; you want them to turn out as dry as a cracker.
- Continue drying if the mushrooms bend (perfectly dried mushrooms should snap) or are damp to the touch. If you fail to dry the mushrooms effectively, the moisture left may cause the mushrooms to easily form fungi and molds or rot.
After you successfully dry your porcini mushrooms, let them cool completely before keeping them. Storing them right away in a container with a screw-on cap will cause condensation and make the mushrooms soggy – and ruin all the work that you have put in to dry them.
READ ALSO: How to Dehydrate Mushrooms Properly
How to Dry Porcini Mushrooms at Home
Drying porcini mushrooms with a dehydrator
- Cut the mushrooms into 1/4” or 1/2” pieces to accelerate drying. Thick cuts take longer to dry out.
- Check the manufacturer’s instructions about the temperature and time recommended for drying porcini mushrooms. (Most manufacturers suggest low settings – between 135 and 150 F). Pre-heat the food dehydrator accordingly.
- Put the mushrooms on the drying racks. Arrange them in single layers, leaving ample space between pieces so the porcini mushrooms dry properly.
Check on the mushrooms every couple of hours or so. Some pieces may dry faster. If there are pieces that turn cracker-dry before the other pieces, take them out and leave the rest to dry completely.
READ ALSO: How to Dehydrate Food with a Dehydrator
Drying porcini mushrooms in the oven
- Preheat your oven to 150°F.
- Lay the mushrooms side by side on a clean baking sheet. Lay them flat with ample space in between.
- Do not put oil on the baking sheets as the mushrooms are bound to absorb the oil (and take longer to dry) and taste different.
- Dry the mushrooms in the oven for about an hour.
- Take the tray out of the oven, flip the mushrooms over, and blot out any moisture that the mushrooms may have released.
- Return the baking tray to the oven and let the mushrooms bake for another hour. Check them again and dab off any new moisture.
Continue baking until the mushrooms are fully dehydrated – crisp and cracker-dry.
Sun-drying porcini mushrooms
Prepare the mushrooms for sun-drying only when the weather is right. You need warm, sunshiny, non-humid days to guarantee that the mushrooms will dry nicely. When the air is damp or humid, the mushrooms will not only require a longer time to dry; they also run the risk of forming molds. Look for the right place for drying the mushrooms. A flat rooftop, a window sill, or a sunny room fits the bill. Choose a spot where moisture, bugs, animals, or birds are unlikely to get to the mushrooms.
- Assemble the mushrooms for sun-drying. You have two options.
- Run the mushrooms through a cooking string using a sterilized needle and form a “mushroom garland.”
- Lay the porcini mushrooms flat on a drying rack. Avoid having the mushrooms overlap to prevent them from sticking to each other.
- Keep bugs off the mushrooms by covering the rack and the mushrooms with a net tent (you can get this from a kitchen supply store). If you can’t get hold of a net tent, drape a mesh fabric over and beneath the rack and the mushrooms to protect them from bugs.
Let the mushrooms dry under the heat of the sun. If you are using the string method, hang the mushroom garlands out to dry. If you are using a rack, put it out for the mushrooms to dry under the sun.
Depending on the heat of the sun, you may need a couple of days to dry the mushrooms just right. Check the mushrooms twice or three times a day to see how they are doing.
In case the temperature goes down before the mushrooms become cracker dry, finish drying the porcini mushrooms in the food dehydrator or the oven using the instructions already given. You will need less time to do this considering that the mushrooms have already dried out to a certain degree under the sun.
Using an electric fan
Amp up the drying effect of natural ventilation by using a portable box fan to dry porcini mushrooms. Set the mushrooms up as you would when you prepare them for sun-drying. This time, put a box fan as close as you can to the mushrooms.
- Use the highest setting available. The moving breeze from the fan will dry the mushrooms. See to it that the fan is not too near the mushrooms lest the breeze blow the mushrooms away.
- Check the mushrooms twice or thrice a day to determine their moisture level.
- As in the sun-drying technique, you may want to completely finish drying the mushrooms to the desired cracker-dry level by using the food dehydrator or oven.
- Use one or a combination of these options and you will enjoy dried porcini mushrooms for a long time.
Aside from knowing how to dry mushrooms properly, however, it is also critical for you to know how to preserve and store them.
Preserving and Storing Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Keep the following tips in mind for preserving/storing dried porcini mushrooms:
- Use airtight containers.
- You can use Mason jars or other glass canning jars with tight-fitting screw tops.
- You can also store the dried mushrooms in resealable, freezer-safe plastic bags. Get rid of any excess air in the plastic bags before you seal them.
- Label the containers with the date so you know exactly how long the dried mushrooms have been in the freezer.
- Put the jars or the plastic bags in the freezer. If you are using plastic bags, avoid putting anything heavy on top of the bags lest you crush the mushrooms.
- The mushrooms can also be stored at room temperature.
- Dry mushrooms are likely to fare better when you keep them far from moisture and light. Store the containers at the back of a kitchen cabinet where it is cool and dark so the mushrooms don’t spoil easily.
It is also a good idea to put a couple of oxygen-absorbing packets with the mushrooms. The iron powder in these packets helps to absorb the oxygen that remains in the containers. It prevents the mushrooms from spoiling quickly, especially when stored at room temperature in a humid climate.
It is good to know how to dry and store porcini mushrooms. When you have dried porcini mushrooms in the freezer or pantry, you can enjoy them for a long time in healthy easy-to-prepare, delicious recipes including risottos, stews, soups, sauces, stir-fries, omelets, rice and pasta dishes, and braises.