Any accomplished chef would tell you that dried mushrooms are an essential ingredient, particularly in Asian and European cooking. They can transform a dish from a stew or a soup or sauce, even when used in small amounts. Asian cooking generally uses Asian mushrooms like cloud ear, wood ear, and shiitake while European dishes include matsutake European mushrooms like a morel, trumpet, chanterelle, and porcini. Like all dried vegetables, dried cheese, and dried mushrooms need to be rehydrated before they can be used for the purpose of cooking.
PURCHASE AND PREPARATION OF DRIED MUSHROOMS
While choosing dried mushrooms from the grocery, quality must not be compromised. Even if they may be pricier, choose mushrooms from the best brands to ensure quality and with less dirt in them. It is a misconception that dried mushrooms, mushroom powder, and fresh mushrooms can be used interchangeably. Each of these products have a distinct taste and are uniquely suited to the recipes they are mentioned in, with dried mushrooms being more concentrated in flavour than the fresh ones. In the case of dried mushrooms, there is some amount of preparation that needs to be done before using them for cooking.
Step 1: Dried mushrooms should first be rehydrated by soaking them in a bowl of hot water for approximately 30 minutes and stirring regularly to ensure that they are completely immersed in the water.
Step 2: After this, the mushrooms need to be strained using a cheesecloth or paper towel in order to remove any dirt that may be present in them. The strained liquid is also useful while cooking soups and sauces and should be collected in a bowl while straining.
Step 3: Rinsing the strained mushrooms with clean water will help in removing any residual dirt. It is important to completely remove the dirt present in the dried mushrooms before cooking them as it can spoil the taste of the entire dish.
Step 4: Rehydrated mushrooms can be overly chewy or slimy to eat. Chopping the mushrooms into small bits can make them easier to cook and consume.
Step 5: Now that the mushrooms have been prepared, they can be first fried in butter or olive oil before the strained liquid from Step 2 is added to them. The mushrooms can then be used to prepare soups, stews or sauces.
STORING DRIED MUSHROOMS
In order to enable the dried mushrooms to retain their flavour for 6-12 months after purchase, they need to be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. Over time, the mushrooms will reduce in flavour but will continue to be edible for up to a year.
Dehydrated mushrooms should be refrigerated if not in use and not be stored in the open. They must be used within 1-2 days of soaking in water to avoid spoilage.
Strained mushrooms should never be stored. They must be used immediately after being strained. The liquid collected after straining can be stored in a refrigerator for a period of less than one week.