The beauty of mushrooms is that they can be used both fresh and dried. The dried fungi will stay fresh for years in the storage cabinet and are quickly rehydrated and stirred into soups, stews, and broths whenever the mood strikes.
The question is, how to rehydrate shiitake mushrooms or in what way do you revive these amazing flavor bombs? Perhaps you have been soaking the dried mushrooms in a boiling water bowl and putting a plate against them to hold them in place firmly. Please read on to learn this comprehensive guide.
What are dried Shiitake mushrooms?
Drying and then packaging shiitake mushrooms as preserved foods is common. Rehydrating these products is necessary before consumption. Dry shiitakes are popular over fresh ones. As the sun dries the food, proteins are converted to amino acids, and ergosterol turns into vitamin D. This enhances umami flavor, according to food and science columnist, Harold McGee.
There is a high concentration of MSG (or monosodium glutamate), a naturally occurring amino acid considered an essential part of mushrooms' distinct savory taste, otherwise known as umami. McGee explains that drying stimulates enzymatic reactions and causes amino acids to brown.
As an ingredient, it is unusual to see shiitake stems included in Japanese cuisine and other dishes, mainly due to their tough texture and require more cooking time than the tender, fleshy caps. Cooking the stems as part of a stock, on the other hand, can significantly improve the broth's flavor.
What makes sun-dried shiitake mushrooms more flavorful?
During the sun-dried process of Shitake mushrooms, they undergo a chemical breakdown to create basic amino acids (such as glutamate), intensifying the umami flavor.
Aside from that, their guanylate (nucleotide), which also gives them a savory taste, becomes more concentrated when they are dried. Educate yourselves on the five types of taste.
How to rehydrate Shiitake mushrooms
The process takes several hours, but there is no need for further preparation following refrigeration. Simply let them soak overnight.
The benefits of soaking dried shiitake mushrooms in cold water for a more extended period yield mushrooms that are flavorful, incredibly firm, and velvety in texture.
The process of rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms helps them to taste better. You can try this at home because it is so easy to do.
You can follow these steps:
To prepare dried shiitake mushrooms, gently rinse under running water and drain them.
Take the shiitake, put them in a bowl, and pour over enough water to cover. Put a plate or small lid on top, so the mushrooms stay submerged. Place in the refrigerator overnight (approximately 8+ hours).
Shiitake mushrooms should be fleshy with a lustrous appearance in their reconstituted state. You can expect them to be 5 times heavier than they were before. Your soaking water will have developed a brown color.
Pull out a couple of shiitake mushrooms and squeeze the liquid out. Save the liquid! This liquid is packed with nutrients and tastes delicious, and it makes a good dashi broth. This broth is used in Japanese miso soup, udon, simmered food, etc. It will keep for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.
Remove the stems by cutting them with a knife, then toss them.
To prepare whole shiitake mushrooms, making shallow cuts will speed up the cooking process and enable the mushrooms to soak up the seasoned liquid more effectively.
You should angle the blade and pull it toward you as you slice Sogigiri style. With their larger surface area, Shiitake mushrooms are better at absorbing flavors.
Method of Cutting Mushroom Explained
In Japanese, Sogigiri (そぎ切り) refers to cutting food with a slanted edge (or slicing at an angle). The technique gives food an increased surface area, ensuring speedy cooking and better flavor absorption. how to do this, hold your knife diagonally, parallel to the working surface, and begin slicing.
Here's another simple, clever idea if you’re in a hurry
It was the same old method of immersing mushrooms in water until we stumbled upon this clever hack: the French press. When you use the plunger, you can keep mushrooms immersed in water, which will extract the maximum flavor from them after they hydrate. This rendition of Taiwan minced pork sauce features this broth, along with the tender mushrooms.
My favorite part is how simple yet clever it is. Almost embarrassed not to have thought of it myself. Since discovering this method, I've rehydrated dried vegetables or brought raisins to life.
Pour hot water into a large French press, brimming with all the pantry essentials, and let it steep for around 30 minutes.
As soon as the ingredients soften, plunge the plunger gently, to squeeze out more umami flavor from the mushrooms; just as you would when making coffee.
Use the mushrooms as ramen toppings, garnish risotto with them, or even substitute them for fresh mushrooms. Whether you want to keep the liquid for broths and soups or dump it, it's up to you. If you're like me, you'll save it for another broth.
Just a reminder:When you soften dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water, you'll notice they don't have the same aroma as they usually do. This may not be the best option since hot water might slightly change the flavor of the mushrooms.
There is no better way than using cold water when rehydrating or deconstructing dried Shiitake mushrooms, as it helps preserve their umami flavor.
How to use the leftover soaking liquid
The soaking liquid from dried mushrooms can be used as a flavoring agent for soups and braising liquids, or you can use it to stir-fry veggies to keep them from evaporating. This is also an excellent vegetarian- or vegan-friendly alternative for meat-based stock in recipes.
Remember to save your cut mushroom stems; they can enhance the flavor of your soup. Just place in a Ziploc bag and keep frozen until needed.
Where to buy dried Shiitake mushrooms
Purchase dried Shiitake mushrooms at an Asian grocer or Chinese herbal shop if you can. Their selection and prices are the best. When special deals are available, you're likely to see them on display as end caps. However, you will find more options in the section where you can find dried vegetables and beans.
Examine your choices and make sure you buy enough. The truth is, dried shiitake mushrooms last for years, and the average price of a pound of good shiitake mushrooms is $15 to $20.
Do not be fooled by cheap packages featuring large ones at the top. In most cases, a cluster of inferior skinny mushrooms lies beneath the voluptuous ones.
How are dried mushrooms different from fresh?
Fresh and dried mushrooms have their benefits, depending on how they are used. Shitake mushrooms, for instance, are highly flavored and, after rehydrating or reconstituting, produce a meatier texture.
A dried mushroom has a richer flavor that is a little stronger than its fresh counterpart. Those qualities make them an excellent addition to soups, stews, broths, salads, and sides.
However, dried mushrooms do not have the same flavor as fresh mushrooms. Despite their excellent suitability for soups, stews, and sauces, they don't lend themselves well to sautés because of the change in texture following dehydration.
Meanwhile, the common edible mushroom, like the morels, comes off grubbier and grittier as it dries. Using a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh sieve is the best way to handle them. If not, the dust resulting from this process would likely find its way into the broth.
How to prepare dried mushrooms
Before you can cook with dried mushrooms, they must be reconstituted with water, and when you do, you get two delightful results:
- the voluptuous mushrooms
- the tasteful water that they soak in.
Both are great for soups, casseroles, and braising. In addition to imparting a flavor that is savory and meaty texture, dried mushrooms are rich in umami.
1 Getting rid of grit or sand
When processing dried mushrooms, grit becomes an issue. There is nothing more gritty than dried mushrooms, and even a tiny bit of it can throw off a whole meal.
A good soak, as described here, should get most of the grime off, and rinsing will usually complete the job.
Poor-quality mushrooms are often gritty, and how much grit is present varies from the manufacturer to how they process them. Compare brands and pick the one you like the best.
2 A long soak is essential.
This post is based on an experiment where I tried reconstituting two batches of mushrooms, all from one package. Hot water was applied to one set and cool water to the other for 30 minutes each.
My experience is that the best method involves soaking in lots of water overnight or over 8 hours. Take the shiitake mushroom, place it in a bowl, pour water, and then toss it around a bit. After that, rotate the absorbent gills downward. Refrigerated shiitake mushrooms tucked away in a plastic bag or sealed container can last for a week.
Viet World Kitchen writes an interesting post where she discusses soaking shiitake mushrooms for hours to produce mushrooms with intense flavor which remain firm and silky for cutting.
3 When done soaking, rinse well.
It is common for people not to clean their soaked mushrooms as they're under the assumption it will wash the flavor out. Others claim that you must rinse mushrooms to remove residual grit.
This is my opinion as well. As soon as I soak my mushrooms, I give them a thorough rinsing to eliminate embedded, stubborn gritty particles, and my mushrooms still taste great. It's always a good idea to taste one before mixing it in for peace of mind.
4 Save the well-flavored broth
Irrespective of the temperature of the water, the mushrooms will yield a rich, flavorsome broth you shouldn't waste. The flavor is perfect for whatever recipe you are preparing.
However, you should take precautions because it is potent and overpowering. If you don't intend to use it that day, place it in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate for a few days or store it in the freezer for several months.
Grit from the mushroom sank to its base. You should not add a gritty substance like this to the food, so drain it carefully. Straining works for me. Taking the liquid through a paper filter is best as it leaves it dirt-free.
Storage tips for dried mushrooms
In order to store items properly, you'll need the following items.
It is okay to use glass canning jars or plastic bags that you can seal. Get the best container you can afford, as they will directly impact your mushrooms' flavor.
The truth is, it's easy to get sidetracked over food preservation. Keeping track of the date makes it easier to determine the shelf life of dried mushrooms.
It's an optional step, just in case your house is humid. It is made of iron powder that absorbs oxygen from the air, allowing dried mushrooms to last longer. Food packaging uses it as a pest deterrent and to preserve food color.
Dried mushrooms: How to store them - A step by step guide
The general rule is that mushrooms can be stored in a refrigerator or at room temperature. Every method has its own benefits and drawbacks in terms of preserving dried mushrooms, so let us take a closer look at both options.
Storing dried mushrooms in the refrigerator
Choosing the right container is important. You may want to choose a glass canning jar, but make sure the lid fits tightly to prevent air from flowing through. For plastic bags, squeeze out as much air as you can by hand. Remember that bags designed to withstand cold temperatures tend to be thicker than regular plastic bags, so be cautious.
After that, transfer the dried mushrooms from their packaging into the storage container. Secure the lid or shut the bag's opening tightly.
Many times, dried mushrooms come vacuum-packed. Unless you plan to use them immediately, opening the package and exposing the mushrooms is unnecessary. Place the mushrooms in the airtight containers after breaking the original package's seal.
If possible, choose a spot where the mushrooms can sit undisturbed otherwise since they have an extremely delicate texture. Attach labels to the lid or outside of the packaging. Store the container in your refrigerator.
Storing dried mushrooms at room temperature
As with the previous procedure, selecting the appropriate containers is of utmost importance. With lids on, any glass container or sealable bag will do.
Add the dried mushrooms to the glass containers. If you haven't done so already, fill it with a few packs of oxygen absorbers in a poorly ventilated storage area. A product like this helps keep moisture to a minimum, allowing dried mushrooms to preserve their flavor long-term.
Choose a cool, dark area on the shelf and place the dried mushrooms inside. It is best to keep mushrooms away from any external source of humidity, heat, and light, so the best approach is to not expose them to anything that might deteriorate them.
How long do dried mushrooms last?
When you freeze the dried mushrooms properly, they should remain good for at least one year. Nonetheless, room temperature storage limits the mushrooms' shelf life to six to eight months.
This number will decrease dramatically if the container of dried mushrooms is in a warm environment and is exposed to sunlight.
They may last for a long time, but their potency can deteriorate. Rot and mold are common concerns when storing for an extended period. A dry and airtight environment is the best solution.
When dried mushrooms have gone bad.
Various factors contribute to the degradation of dried mushrooms. One of the leading causes is a buildup of moisture. As a result, the mold can grow on its surface.
The visible mold on the surface may appear as light patches on a dark mushroom. If mold is visible, you should throw out the mushroom immediately.
2 Bug infested
Throw out mushrooms that are pest-infested. Besides being a food source for humans, they are also quite attractive to insects. Among them are tiny beetles and pantry moths as well. Your mushrooms are only at risk of insects if they are not stored properly.
If you store them in an airtight container, bugs will not survive. As a precaution, lay a paper towel over your dried mushrooms, and any insects should be visible.
3 Exposure to the sun
When exposed to the sun, your mushrooms will turn lighter, and their flavor diminishes. If your mushrooms begin to lighten from being exposed to the sun, toss them. If you want to avoid this, store them in a dark area. The lifespan of mushrooms is almost infinite if they're stored properly, so the first year is their peak.
How to rehydrate shiitake mushrooms (step by step guide)
- dried shiitake mushrooms
- To prepare dried shiitake mushrooms, gently rinse under running water and drain them.
- Take the shiitake, put them in a bowl, and pour over enough water to cover them. Put a plate or small lid on top, so the mushrooms stay submerged. Place in the refrigerator overnight (8 hours).Shiitake mushrooms should be fleshy with a lustrous appearance in their reconstituted state. You can expect them to be 5 times heavier than they were before. Your soaking water will have developed a brown color.
- Pull out a couple of shiitake mushrooms and squeeze the liquid out. Save the liquid! This liquid is packed with nutrients and tastes delicious, and it makes a good dashi broth. This broth is used in Japanese miso soup, udon, simmered food, etc. It will keep for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.
- Remove the stems by cutting them with a knife, then toss them.
- To prepare whole shiitake mushrooms, making shallow cuts will speed up the cooking process and enable the mushrooms to soak up the seasoned liquid more effectively.
- You should angle the blade and pull it toward you as you slice Sogigiri style. With their larger surface area, Shiitake mushrooms are better at absorbing flavors.
- Cook the mushrooms according to your recipe.
Clever idea if you’re in a hurry:
- Pour hot water into a large French press, brimming with all the pantry essentials, and let it steep for around 30 minutes.
- As soon as the ingredients soften, plunge the plunger gently. To squeeze out more umami flavors from the mushrooms, just as you would when making coffee.Use the mushrooms as ramen toppings, garnish risotto with them, or even substitute them for fresh mushrooms. Whether you want to keep the liquid for broths and soups or dump it, it’s up to you. If you’re like me, you’ll save it for another broth.
Method of cutting mushroom explainedIn Japanese, Sogigiri (そぎ切り) refers to cutting food with a slanted edge (or slicing at an angle). The technique gives food an increased surface area, ensuring speedy cooking and better flavor absorption. how to do this, hold your knife diagonally, parallel to the working surface, and begin slicing.
Just a reminder:When you soften dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water, you’ll notice they don’t have the same aroma as they usually do. This may not be the best option since hot water might slightly change the flavor of the mushrooms.
There is no better way than using cold water when rehydrating or deconstructing dried Shiitake mushrooms, as it helps preserve their umami flavor