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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22 Comments

  1. Steve Kirk

    Roger Phillips is an excellent book but it is by no means comprehensive. If you are wanting to eat wild fungi you should use several books. Mushrooms are notorously variable and the information in the books is not always imparted in a user-friendly way, so it is possible to overlook a crucial identification feature such as smell, gill shape or colour-change. I spent many years looking at and learning fungi to practise identification skills before ‘graduating’ on to eating those I was sure of. Let’s not be in a big hurry just because some taste nice.

    I actually feel that your friends in France are being incredibly lazy and that it is wrong to pick with abandon and then pass on the responsibility to someone else to sort them for you. The service is meant for a culture that values its food and the effort required to obtain it and it is there to avoid accidents rather than pander to people who can’t be bothered to learn. It makes me feel embarrasssed to be British.

  2. Jennifer

    Found you while looking for info on how to dry muchrooms – bought cheaply in the ‘left for dead’ section of Aldi. It seems surprisingly easy and I am going to get on with it.

    Just a thought, years ago while working in a Poisons Unit I overheard a recently poisoned mushroom eater being told to keep at least one uncooked sample of what you have picked and are about to eat in a bag in the fridge – just in case of an emergency admission following consumption. It is incredibly difficult to idenfity vomited mushrooms!

  3. Hi everyone, does anyone have good info on the giant puffballs? We have a horse farm and since we moved in last spring, we have been getting giant puffballs but about the size of a softball but I didn’t know enough to pick and eat them, I knew what they were and that they were edible. Today after doing chores I happened upon the biggest one so far this year it’s larger than a volleyball. It’s still pure white, I haven’t picked and cut it up yet but will it be tasty at this size if it’s still solid white right through? There is so much of it that I will likely freeze it. But a puffball this size can’t be confused with any poisonous ones can it?? Thanks for any help that may be out there!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jeff

    I don’t know anyone who knows – yet. I loved eating the feild mushrooms that I was given a couple of weeks ago.

    HFW has an online course that you can do for far less cash than the hands on day courses. Perhaps I should do that!

    Thanks for your advice.

  5. Jeff Sturrock

    Yes go with someone who knows. Blewits are not able to be confused with anything else.

    Shaggy Inkcaps are at their best raw. The first time of eating a wild mushroom try only a small mouthfull, never mix them!!!!!!!! until you have had them separately a few times.

    Lots of fun looks to be a good year

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Adam

    You lucky man!

    They might not be tasty but they are free food!

    Interesting to read about the spore print.

    Thanks for your comment, a great addition to the knowledge base.

  7. Good morning!
    I am threading my branching oyster mushrooms. We have a massive fallen willow in the garden and they grow in ‘a bun dance’ on it. Last year I was too unsure to pick any. This year did a very through bit of research and a spore print which verified them as branching oysters. A spore print is dead easy-put a good sized specimin gills down on a sheet of white paper with a glass over the top held slightly open by resting on a coin. The book said the print should be lilac and sure enough after leaving over night a beautiful lilac print appeared.
    All this rain has brought lots and lots of mushrooms (i read you can get a fifth the weight of the wood over time the log must weigh several tonnes!)so I’ve made pate from almonds, garlic and corriander, and am now drying loads.
    The book wasn’t too complimentary about the taste of branching oyster (Pleurotus cornucopiae) the book says they are plain edible rather than tasty but they are good with plenty of other flavours.
    I put the mushrooms on newspaper and left them for about a week before threading to avout tearing. Now they look lovely hanging near the stove!

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Gutta,

    They need to be put in something as they’d get very dusty left out. When I buy dried mushrooms they are in cellophane bags so a tin, an old envelope or heavy duty bag would probably do. I just tend to bung most things into airtight containers as this almost guarantees to hold the flavour.

  9. Do you have to put them in an air tight container? Once dreid shouldn’t they be okay left out?

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate (uk)

    I love the idea of eating gas mains…

    I am determined to find someone who knows about mushrooms even if it means advertising i the Parish Magazine!

    Hi Amanda,

    I am so envious that you have a cousin that knows about mushrooms! My cousins appeared for my twenty first birthday party and then vanished for ever more. Was it the wine or possibly it could have been the mushrooms?

    Hi Richard,

    Great advice. Good idea to get to know mushrooms slowly – a few at a time. Why try and learn a whole “new language” in an afternoon. Thanks.
    . Thanks.

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