Dried Mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are a great way to store your bounty, and eat mushrooms through the off season.

I have always dried morels through the years. It seams like you could never get too many, but when they are flushing, you usually can’t eat everything that is picked fresh. Even with the help of friends, there is usually lots left over after getting your fill. That is if you  get a good flush, and can get them before everyone else does.

Now that I eat a lot more types of mushrooms than before, I have learned to dry several of them for later use. The ones in my pantry right now are mostly Boletes, Morels, and a couple types of Agaricus. It is important to make sure they are properly dried and stored in an air tight jar. We use a dehydrator most of the time.

Dried mushrooms are great to use in the winter when all you can do is dream about picking. Surprising to me was that the ones I have dryed are stronger flavored than when fresh, and are easier to use than you might think. You also know where they have been. Be very careful about buying dryed mushrooms from the supermarket. If you look carefully at the nation of origin, you will see, “A product of  North America, Russia or China”. Even though they are marked organic, I don’t want to eat mushrooms grown in Russia or China! Chernobel comes to mind, and don’t get me started about China’s environment.

To prepare large mushrooms clean them delicately. I don’t use water unless absolutely necessary. Slice them about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Agaricus mushrooms should be sliced unless they are small and then dryed whole. Boletes are usually large, and removing the gills (actually tubes) improves them when rehydrated. Save the gills and dry for soups or gravy stock. Morels are usually dryed whole and I have used the dehydrator, but in my younger days we strung them up on white thread leaving space in between, and hung them up wherever we could. They also were put in airtight jars when dry.

To rehydrate delicate dryed mushrooms like the morel, put them between damp paper towels and they will come right back to life. This works for the others also depending what you are going to use them for. An important note on morels, make sure they are fully cooked. Morels uncooked or partially cooked, digest in your colon instead of your stomach and can be very painful. You can also cover them in a bowl with boiling water, cover the bowl, and save or use the broth. The easiest way to use them is to throw them into soups, stews or soups dry.

The flavor of dried mushrooms is stronger than fresh, and the texture is so so. They make great gravies and soups. As a note, do not feed wild mushrooms to fungiphobes, or anyone who questions them. They don’t deserve them and will usually find something wrong with them.I used to be offended by the general publics reluctance to eat my hard found bounties, but  now I think more for me and my fungal friends!

So…when you pick more than you can eat…dry them for another day.

Book Review

“All That the Rain Promises and More…” by David Arora, is a great book for learning the identification of mushrooms.

All That the Rain Promises and More If I could only buy one book to learn the world of  mushrooms, this would be it. This book is a companion to the  book ” Mushrooms Demystified”, which is known as the bible of mushroom guides, and is also written by David Arora. Since it is pocket size, it easy to carry, and the cast of mushrooms has been narrowed to a manageable size. Mushroom books can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. David has included a well rounded, common grouping here to learn.

The book has a “quick key” on the inside covers front and back, and is an efficient way to get in the right family. It then starts out with instructions on how to use the book. A general but thorough discussion on types of mushrooms, and the when and where of finding them is included.

The book is divided into general types and families. The descriptions of  each individual mushroom is complete and easy to read. Color pictures are included with each description,  and are of high quality. Almost all of the pictures are from the field, giving a good idea of what they look like in nature.

The book also includes stories about different people, and their most memorable mushrooms hunts. There is also a few mushroom type stories and anecdotes. They lighten the book up and give it a very personal touch and feel. David also lets us know again, that mushrooms are not dangerous and should be taught to children, and loved ones.

Where there is not room to cover a mushroom or one of it’s relatives, The book notes a page in “Mushrooms Demystified” for further investigation.  “All That the Rain Promises and More” was one of my first mushroom identification books, and it didn’t take me long to buy “Mushrooms Demystified”(we will cover it on another day). The two work well together for identification in the field and then further investigation at home or camp.

You can find this book at your local book store, as well as on-line. Vargo’s, here in Bozeman, carries a good selection of mushroom books, and I check on it regularly!

Conifer Coral

The Conifer Coral, Hercium abeitis,  grows on pines and would be a good candidate for inoculating pine stumps.

Conifer Coral

I have seen this mushroom growing from partially submerged logs. The fact that it enjoys this habitiat leads me to believe it would be happy growing from stumps. Literature from places that sell plug spawn for this mushroom (Fungi Perfecti) support the theory.

The Conifer Coral is from the Hericium family and is related to the Lions Mane which is a beatutiful mushroom also. They are both choice edibles and are easy to prepare.

I am going to spread this mushroom around to some pine stumps this year. There are plenty to inoculate with the pine beetle kill. I encourage you to do the same.