The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Dry your own mushrooms

mushrooms dryingDespite being given the ultimate mushroom identification bible Mushrooms by Roger Phillips I still feel a little uncertain about gathering the mushrooms that I find in the garden and around the village. This is not to decry the book in anyway but a lot of mushrooms seem to look really similar to me.

Our friends Jocelyn and Miles have found this when they gather mushrooms in France. But they pick away with gay abandon.
You might be thinking “Are they mad? Or were they mad?”
No, they are pretty sane and take advantage of a free service that pharmacies offer all over France. You can totter in with your baskets and they will sort them into safe and poisonous. It’s a free service.

It is such a shame that we don’t offer a similar service in the UK.

Joanna’s Food had a fascinating post on an expert identifying the mushrooms in her garden a few weeks ago. Well worth a peek.

We are drying mushroom here at the cottage. Danny discovered a punnet of shitake mushrooms when he was foraging in what he calls the Tesco “condemned food section”. Dried mushrooms last for up to two years and are fabulous for tossing into a rich stew to add an extra dimension, or rehydrating in boiling water for five minutes to eat with pasta or a stir fry.

All you do is string the mushrooms on strong thread (use a darning needle). Hang the mushrooms in a warm airy room for a couple of weeks until they feel dry. Store them in a paper bag for a week or so to guarantee that all moisture has been eradicated and then keep them in an airtight box until you need them. If the mushrooms start to go mouldy in the airtight container they have not been dried enough so throw them away.

The trick to successful drying is to give them enough time to dry out completely – ours sit in the airing cupboard for ten days after drying on the thread. By the time that they go into the airtight container they look very shrivelled and unappetising but they puff up miraculously when added to boiling water.

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  1. heartlandroad

    I just tried drying mushrooms for the first time, but a few weeks later they went mouldy in the jars. For anyone else trying this – I waited until they felt dry to me, but admittedly some of them were still slightly flexible. Looks like you have to keep going until they’re positively crunchy to be sure of preventing mould.

    I’m drying regular supermarket mushrooms on a hunch that a lot of the flavour you get from fancy dried wild mushrooms is actually from the drying rather than the species. The first batch certainly smelt amazing, and they cost peanuts. I’m using the oven on a very low setting as my area is not dry or warm enough to do the hanging trick.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Steve

    Good point to have several books. A DVD would be useful as well.

    Our friends in France have learnt over the years through using this service and now only use it when they can’t identify a ‘new to them’ mushroom. They also have books.

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