Oyster mushrooms are a nutritious addition to our diet. They are highly rich in protein and other dietary elements. The nutritional value of oyster mushrooms is equal to poultry, sheep, goat, beef, etc. The delicious oyster mushrooms have been widely used as a part of different cuisines.
Oyster mushrooms can be consumed fresh and also stored for future use. If you are growing oyster mushrooms at home and you have a bulk harvest, then it is recommended to store the surplus produce to consume later. Obviously, you don’t want to waste your harvest. Do you?
Try to share the surplus produce with your friends and family. Even then if you are left with surplus produce then you can dry preserve the oyster mushrooms and consume them later.
If you are planning to consume within a few days, then you can put the oyster mushrooms in clean plastic bags and store them in the fridge where the mushrooms will stay fresh for a week.
In this article, I am going to share the for drying your oyster mushrooms at home with and without using a dehydrator. When we think about drying mushrooms the first thing that comes to our mind is a dehydrator or an oven. The dehydrator works great for drying oyster mushrooms. It evaporates all the water contents from fresh oyster mushrooms and leaves them completely dry.
Keep reading to know why and how to dry oyster mushrooms.
Why oyster mushrooms should be dried?
Fresh oyster mushrooms have 80 to 85 % moisture and a very short shelf life. The high amount of moisture makes them very vulnerable to spoilage and deterioration. The mushrooms start losing their normal color and firmness after a certain period.
Oyster mushrooms have a varying shelf life at different temperatures.
- 8 to 11 days at 0 degrees celsius
- 4 to 6 days at 5 degrees celsius
- 2 to 3 days at 10 degrees celsius
- 1 to 2 days at 20 degrees celsius
Drying is a method for the preservation and long-term storage of food. The method works on the principle of removing water for increasing the shelf life of food commodities. Water is the primary requirement for carrying out all chemical reactions and microbial activities that are responsible for the spoilage of food. Removal of water hinders the chemical and microbial activity and ensures the longer preservation of food commodities.
Dried oyster mushrooms last for a long time in your pantry than the fresh ones. Plus, you will have a continuous supply of delicious oyster mushrooms for cooking and consumption at your hand. Dried oyster mushrooms do not lose their natural rich flavor and nutritional value during the dehydration process. They even get a more concentrated taste after dehydration. The delectable flavor and long shelf life of dried mushrooms make them a favorite ingredient in different recipes.
Dried oyster mushrooms are highly rich in taste and add a meatiness to several dishes. You can purchase dried mushrooms from the grocery store or if you have your homegrown mushrooms in a surplus you can dry them by yourself at your home.
How to dry oyster mushrooms?
First I will share with you how to dry your oyster mushrooms using a dehydrator.
Check if your mushrooms are fresh before storage
Oyster mushrooms turn slimy and discolored after some time. Drying oyster mushrooms after they have gone slimy and bad won’t fix it. Just like freezing the milk or meat once they have passed their shelf life will be useless same is the case with mushrooms.
If you are planning to store your oyster mushrooms then don’t wait. Try to store as early as possible.
1. Clean your oyster mushrooms
Before processing your mushrooms for storage make sure to clean them properly. Cleaning the mushrooms does not mean you should put the mushrooms under running water, just wipe them off with a damp paper towel. The paper towel must not have dripping water it should be slightly damp.
Do not put the oyster mushrooms directly under running water because they are porous and can swell easily by engulfing the liquid.
2. Slice your mushrooms
Keeping the whole mushrooms in dehydrators will not help. The whole oyster mushroom mass will be too large and dense that will not allow the mushrooms to dry out properly. To dry the whole mushrooms you will need to put them in a dehydrator for a long time.
If the mushrooms are not dehydrated properly it will compromise their quality and safety. To ensure complete and quick drying of oyster mushrooms cut them into ¼ inches slices.
Make sure the mushrooms are sliced nice and thin with a clean knife to let them dry evenly. Small mushroom slices will dry out quickly and it will also save time for drying.
3. Dehydrate your mushrooms properly
Once you have made fine slices of your oyster mushrooms, put them on the dehydrator’s tray. The edges of mushroom slices must not overlap each other and should be placed separately. The overlapping edges may remain unexposed and can retain moisture.
Also, make sure to arrange the slices closely so that you may dehydrate as many slices as you can. Oyster mushrooms that are arranged closely will dry quicker.
Turn the dehydrator on. Let the oyster mushrooms dry between 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (43 to 49 degrees Celsius) temperature until the mushrooms turn crispy. The dehydration process can take 7 to 8 hours for ¼ inches slices. If the slices are thicker it can take more than 8 hours depending upon the thickness of slices. The time required for dehydration also varies with the temperature.
4. Store the dried mushrooms
Let the mushroom slices cool down before handling. When they are at room temperature put them in storage containers.
Use clean glass jars with tight-fitting lids to store your dehydrated oyster mushrooms. Make sure the glass jars are completely dry otherwise the mushrooms will absorb water from the wet jars and will turn bad quickly.
Fill the jars with dried oyster mushrooms and mention the name of mushrooms and date of drying on the jars. Close the glass jars tightly with air-tight lids. Store the glass jars away from the direct heat and light to increase their shelf life. The storage place must be dry and airy.
It is recommended to use dehydrated oyster mushrooms within one month. Though you can also store the dried mushrooms for longer than one month however for a fresh experience you must consume them within one month.
How to dry oyster mushrooms without using any special drying equipment?
Drying oyster mushrooms with a dehydrator is a very easy job. You just have to put them in the dehydrator and leave them for a few hours and the job is done. Once they are completely dry you can eat them later or add them to your favorite dishes.
Though you can dry your oyster mushrooms by using an oven or dehydrator, however, you don’t need any of these.
If you don’t have access to a dehydrator do not worry. You can dry your oyster mushrooms without using any special drying equipment.
Take fresh oyster mushrooms and clean them with a damp towel. Put the mushrooms in an oven for initial drying. Keeping the mushrooms in the oven will expedite the process of drying and the mushrooms will lose a big proportion of moisture. Then put them near a bright sunny window for sun drying. The time required for drying will vary depending upon the humidity and temperature of the area. In humid areas, the mushrooms will take more time to dry out.
How to use the dried mushrooms?
Rehydrate oyster mushrooms
Take the stored mushrooms out of the glass jars. Put the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and add boiling water over them. Soak the mushrooms well for approximately 30 minutes before use.
Dehydrated mushrooms will make a perfect addition to different dishes such as soups, sauces, macaroni, spaghetti, etc.
Turn the mushrooms into powder
You can also turn the dried mushrooms into a powder. Just grind the dried mushrooms well and turn them into a fine powder. The mushroom powder can be stored and used as a flavorful ingredient in different dishes.
Using mushroom powder gives a delicious meaty flavor to different dishes. You can add the mushroom powder to shakes, soups, sauces, smoothies, macaroni, spaghetti, gravy, broth, yogurt, etc.
Fresh mushrooms have a very short shelf life and they will go stale very soon. You can store fresh oyster mushrooms in a refrigerator for not more than a week. Drying is a great way to store oyster mushrooms for a prolonged period. Plus it will save your surplus produce from wastage. Drying does not affect the delicious flavor and the amazing benefits of oyster mushrooms. They will add a flavorful and nutritional punch to your dishes.