Mushrooms are a fungi that are known for their delicious taste and smooth texture. They are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, iron, magnesium, vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 (niacin). Fresh mushrooms have a short shelf life that can be extended with the proper storage and preservation techniques, and are sometimes dried to preserve their nutritional properties.
Mushrooms are known for their medicinal properties. Scientists state that mushrooms have “bioactive” compounds that help treat diseases such as cancer. They are also known to have other therapeutic effects on health without having any toxcicity that might be linked with other medicines. One of the well-known medicinal mushrooms is shiitake which has shown to increase the body’s resistance to viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. Shiitake also has anit-tumor properties which makes it a valuable source for fighting cancer like agents. PubMed.gov states, “Edible mushrooms such as shiitake may have important salutary effects on health or even in treating disease. A mushroom characteristically contains many different bioactive compounds with diverse biological activity, and the content and bioactivity of these compounds depend on how the mushroom is prepared and consumed. It is estimated that approximately 50% of the annual 5 million metric tons of cultivated edible mushrooms contain functional “nutraceutical” or medicinal properties.”
Before you begin drying mushrooms, wash them thoroughly to remove any soil or dirt. Soft-bristled scrub brushes are available for this purpose. If desired, cut the mushrooms into thin slices after washing, and allow them to dry completely before starting the processing of drying them.
Oven Drying Mushrooms
Oven drying is one of the easiest and quickest ways of drying mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F. Arrange the mushrooms
on baking trays, preferably sliced thinly for quick drying. Do not oil the trays. Place the mushrooms in the oven, leaving the door slightly ajar to make a vent for the moisture to get out. After one hour, turn them over to dry the other side. Remove from the oven and allow to cool when completely dried.
The Dehydrator Method for Drying Mushrooms
Use a commercial dehydrator when drying mushrooms. Evenly space out the mushrooms on the dehydrator tray and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set the timer. Generally you will need to set the timer to roughly six to nine hours, but the time could be more or less depending on the dehydrator. Make sure to check the mushrooms periodically.
Hang and Dry
Buy new net bags or simply reuse ones that come with produce such as vegetables or fruits. Place the mushrooms in the net bag and hang them in a dark and dry area. An air conditioner or a fan can help dehydrate and dry the mushrooms faster. Move the mushrooms slightly each day so they are not bunched too tightly and to allow more air to reach all sides of the mushrooms until they are completely dry. This method could take several days.
Drying Mushrooms Outdoors
Hang the mushrooms on an outside clothing line in dry weather or during the summer. Hang each mushroom separately with a clothes pin to dry them quickly or use a net bag and hang them all at once. Using a net bag can help to keep any animals or bugs from getting to the mushrooms. Make sure to also look out for ants or other bugs that might want to feed ont he mushrooms. Depending on how humid the weather is, it could take several days to completely dry the mushrooms outside.
Planetgreen.Discovery.com: Preserving the Harvest: Drying Mushrooms - https://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/preserving-harvest-drying-mushrooms.html
PubMed.gov: Functional properties of edible mushrooms - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9110582
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