Grow mushrooms the EZ way.

How to Dry Mushrooms

Introduction

Mushrooms are a fan favourite in kitchens worldwide. These tasty fungi have a meaty texture and a delicate flavour. They pack a lot of micronutrients and can be used to flavour up various recipes.

But mushrooms don’t have a long shelf life. Indeed, they are highly perishable, deteriorating within 24 hours after harvesting. Scientists say it’s because of their gentle epidermal structure and their elevated respiration rate. If you’ve grown yourself a troop of mushrooms, you’ll want to preserve them to keep them from going bad. Otherwise, bang goes any fond hopes of preparing some tasty soups with your criminis after a day or two of harvesting or a big grocery outing. 

Drying mushrooms is the best way to preserve the mushrooms for use in stocks or as supplements, and here we look at how to dry mushrooms at home, at what temperature, and how long. Read on to find out how you can keep your favourite mushrooms from going bad.

TLDR.

Various methods can be performed to dry or dehydrate your mushrooms for preservation. The best method would be to use a food dehydrator at temperatures between 120-150F for 6-10 hours to fully dry your mushrooms until cracker dry. 

My Dehydrator

I use the dehydrator above at home for drying out my mushrooms to create supplements and food stocks. It does the job and is pretty cheap for home users. You can get it here on amazon.

The Best Dehydrators

However, if you are looking for a more commercial dehydrator then the following range is a gold standard, although they are pricey. Check them out on amazon if you want to here. I plan on getting one of these when my cheap model breaks.

Other methods are possible and if you are not interested in using a food dehydrator please read on for other options.

How to Dry Mushrooms at Home?

There are various ways to dry or dehydrate mushrooms at home, here is a brief list of some of the most common methods:

  • Using a food Dehydrator.
  • Using a box and a fan.
  • Air Drying.
  • Oven Drying.
  • Sun Drying.

How to perform some of these technique is described next.

Using a Food Dehydrator.

Can You Dry Mushrooms in a Dehydrator? Yes, you can dry mushrooms in a dehydrator between 110-120 Fahrenheit, until the pieces are cracker dry. However, there are a few things to check and do before putting the mushrooms in the machine. 

  1. Start by checking the freshness – it’ll be a waste of time trying to preserve mushrooms that have already gone bad. Dehydrating slimy mushrooms won’t fix their lost flavour or nutritional value. Always ensure they are fresh before dehydrating them.
  2. Clean the mushrooms – Don’t just stick them into the dehydrator before cleaning them. Wipe off any debris using a damp paper towel. Don’t use running water as they may soak up the water resulting in longer drying times. 
  3. Slice them up – You want them in slices so they can dry properly. Otherwise, the mushrooms will need extra time in the machine to dry because of their dense mass; meanwhile, you risk damaging their quality. Cutting into 1/2 inch slices is good. Slice them in clean lines to ensure they dry evenly.
  4.  Put them on the dehydrator tray – arrange the smooth, thin mushroom slices on the dehydrator tray. Arrange them close together to dry many of them in a single batch. However, keep the edges from touching. Mushrooms that are close but not touching dry quickly and evenly; while kissing mushrooms don’t have enough airflow to dry completely.
  5. Dry them between 110-120F – It usually takes 6-8 hours for the 1/2 inch slices to dry completely. For thicker slices, you may have to wait up to 10 hours. It’s good to follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions. But don’t go higher than 150F in any way. You may be tempted to crank it up and be done quickly, but you won’t get to enjoy the quality later. 
  6. Allow them enough time to cool, then store – let them cool to room temperature, then store in a sanitised airtight glass jar. Always label the glass jar according to mushroom type and keep it in a cool, dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight. You can also add silica packet to the jar to ensure the mushrooms remain dry, I usually put one inside the jar just in case and they can easily be bought on amazon here are the ones I use.

You can use a basic or advanced dehydrator. Basic dehydrators are cheap and do the job well but if you are dying mushrooms for commercial products it is advised to get a more advance model.

Using a Box and Fan.

Fan drying is a good for mushrooms species that don’t tolerate much heat. In theory, fans should speed up evaporation leaving your mushrooms hard and brittle in no time. However, in practice, drying mushrooms using a box fan takes 12-24 hours; this is just about the same amount of time it takes to air-dry them. And usually, the result is all too similar – just partially dried mushrooms. If you want to avoid getting incompletely dehydrated mushrooms using a fan, here is how to do it right:

  1. Clean, pat dry, and chop into thin slices as before – Wipe off the debris with a damp paper towel. Do not get the mushrooms to moist though as this could cause complications.
  2. Crank your fan to the highest setting then set it up close to the mushrooms pieces – Make sure not to blow the pieces away.
  3. Let the fan do its thing – the science here is that the moving air continuously wicks moisture away from the mushrooms, leaving them dry after a day or two.
  4. Use a desiccant -In case the mushrooms aren’t completely dry, you can use dry rice, Epsom salt, or any other prepared desiccant to finish them off.

Fan drying mushrooms is not a quick process and seldom easier than using a dehydrator. The only advantage is that it helps avoid using heat on your shrooms; thus, the flavour and potency come off great. However, some dehydrators will have very low heat settings anyway.

Air Drying.

This is the best option after a bumper harvest or big grocery run. If you want to keep the mushrooms for just a few months, just a small amount of heat to drive off clinging moisture will do. To air-dry your mushrooms:

  1. Put them in an open container and leave them out to dehydrate – make sure the container has good airflow below. A mesh colander will work fine. 
  2. Stringing – you can also string the mushroom pieces together as if you’re making a popcorn garland and hang them or spread them out on a table or tray. Always move the pieces once halfway dry to avoid sticking. 
  3. Squeeze them to check if they’re dry – Mushrooms that are dry snap in half like dry crackers. It usually takes about a week for the mushrooms to dry.

Air drying works just fine as dehydrating. However, it’s not practical if you live in humid conditions. You can air-dry your mushrooms in the fall and spring. You can even give them a head start by partially drying them in the oven before leaving them in the open air. 

Sun Drying.

Sun drying is another way of dehydrating your mushrooms naturally. Once harvested  you can dry mushrooms in the sun for about two to five days, depending on the weather conditions. It’s easy, doesn’t need electricity, and as long as Mr. sunshine is up there and smiling, it’s free. Of course, it will take longer, but for the final flavour it’s totally worth it, friends!  Note: Only gourmet mushrooms are suitable for sun drying, sun drying non gourmet mushrooms will destroy any active ingredients.  So, let’s take a look at how to sun dry your mushrooms after collecting a boatload of them on your recent foray or that crazy grocery run: 

  1. Choose a spot – It can be a flat roof, windowsill, or room that receives plenty of sunlight. A good spot for drying mushrooms in the sun is protected from insects, animals, and moisture. Airflow is important too. A closed-off room is a no-no.
  2. Slice the shrooms into 1/2 inch pieces – As already insisted, you want them thin, so they avoid retaining moisture.
  3. Lay them in the open sun – That’s it, ensure they don’t overlap. 
  4. Allow the sun time to vaporize the moisture content – It can take up to a week for the mushrooms to dry completely in the sun. Meanwhile, keep checking the progress, flipping them over so they dry evenly. 
  5. Finish off in a dehydrator or oven – Sun-drying only works in the open sun and free-flowing air. If you live in humid conditions, your mushrooms may rot instead of drying. If you discover that sun-drying has not done its job fully, you can finish off the moisture by putting them in a dehydrator or oven for just a little bit. 

Oven Drying.

You can dry mushrooms in an oven at very low settings. However, this requires some care as oven-drying can result in cooked or degraded mushrooms. However, if you have no other ways to dehydrate your mushrooms, here you go:

  1. Preheat the oven to 110-150F – The basic idea is to remove moisture, but you want to use lower settings instead of baking them off and losing healthy ingredients in turn.
  2. Slice them up in clean lines – 1/2 inch slices as before are better; whole mushrooms take longer to dry; you don’t want to learn the hard way.
  3. Arrange the slices in baking sheets or pan – Don’t oil or do any crazy stuff. Also, avoid packing them such that they overlap. 
  4. Place the sheets or pan in the oven and just let them cook for about a couple hours – Remember to leave the oven door open for aeration; you want the moisture to leave. 
  5. Flip them over after an hour – Pull them out and turn them on their other side, then cook for an hour again. 

Carry on until the mushrooms are crispy dry. It will take some time, unlike when using a dehydrator. However, it spares you from expenses. Furthermore, you can dry huge batches simultaneously by putting several sheets in the oven. Just don’t get busy somewhere else and leave them to roast till charred like your Thanksgiving turkey! Once finished go and buy yourself a dehydrator for next time!

Why Dry Mushrooms?

Drying mushrooms slows down deterioration, keeping them good for longer for use in stocks for soups, sauces, or other dishes. Dried mushrooms can also be used in teas or as supplements. They have the same nutritional value as fresh mushrooms, may taste even better, and can last up to 2 years away from direct sunlight and heat.

Sure, there are other ways like freezing and pickling to preserve mushrooms, but none as simple and versatile as drying. There are many different ways to do it, depending on one’s resources.

Furthermore, preservation is not the only reason to dry mushrooms. Indeed, there are many different advantages to drying mushrooms. Most people prefer some types of mushrooms dry instead of fresh because they taste better. For these mushrooms, the drying process intensifies their deep flavour, making them the best for soups, stir-fries, and braises. 

Dried mushrooms play a vital role in adding meatiness to various cuisines around the world. From Japanese Mushroom-flavored Dash Stocks to Korean Soondubu, Polenta, Morel Sauce Chanterelles, and Caramelized onions, you can prepare various dried mushroom dishes. 

Which Mushrooms Can You Dry?

The most commonly dried mushrooms are as follows:

  • Shiitake
  • Chanterelles
  • Morels
  • Reishi
  • Turkey Tail
  • Puffballs
  • Magic mushrooms 
  • King Oyster Mushrooms
  • Oysters

Each mushroom will react differently to heat so it is important to do some research on temperatures and desired outcomes before attempting to dry each out.

What Temperature to Dry Mushrooms at?

Temperatures between 120-150F are recommended, not a degree above. In fact, for mushrooms that don’t tolerate much heat 120-130F is just right. Alternatively, you can air dry mushrooms using no heat which will take a longer time.

If you want to preserve beneficial compounds then lower is supposedly better however I have seen no difference between 120-150f and the higher setting finish faster.

How Long to Dry Mushrooms?

On average it can take anyway from 6-10 hours in a dehydrator to dry mushrooms until cracker dry. This depends on the size of the mushrooms; mushrooms that are thick-fleshed require more time to lose moisture while thin hollow mushrooms dry faster; that’s why slicing is recommended. 

Generally, the longer you allow them to dry, the better. The pieces should be as dry as crackers when complete. When they are done, they should break in half, not bend. Just remember not to forget them in the oven or dehydrator, or you’ll only find charred remains.

How to Soften Dried Mushrooms fast?

Sometimes in a gourmet setting it is necessary to re-hydrate your mushrooms before adding them to a dish. If you are wondering how to re-hydrate mushrooms then here is an explanation.

When you are all set to eat the mushrooms, take them out of the pot or wherever you stored them and soak them in hot water for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, wash them thoroughly and cook them as you’d cook fresh mushrooms.

The reason for not dumping the soaking water is because it will have retained some flavour. Throwing it out will be a waste. Alternatively, dry mushrooms can be added to your much-loved recipes, with the same nutritional value and taste as fresh mushrooms.

How Long Do Dry Mushrooms Last?

Completely dried mushrooms can last up to 2 years away (possibly even longer) from direct sunlight and heat in airtight containers.

The whole point of drying mushrooms is to prolong their shelf life and cracker dried mushrooms can last a long time. However, if you really want to experience the most benefits from your mushrooms it is recommended to use them within months of dehydrating, just in case they re-hydrate in the airtight container or atmostphere.

Wrap-up

Do you have extra fresh mushrooms than you need right now? Drying your mushrooms is the surest way to prolong their shelf life, ensuring you have a constant supply of the tasty, delicious and nutritional fungi to flavour up your homemade recipes. 

It’s also a necessary step if you want to turn them into powder for use in stocks, sauces, smoothies, shakes, broth, gravy, breakfast, cereal, yogurt, and tea with ease. Save your money and prevent heartache by drying your extra fresh mushrooms supply.