Cornwall is renowned for its mizzle, that heavy dense blend of mist & drizzle. Whilst prolonged periods of it can certainly get you down, at this time of year it makes me rather happy as it creates the most perfect, hair frizzlingly good weather for finding wild mushrooms.
I hasten to add, I know zip about wild mushrooms other than this large white (horse?) mushroom that I grew up watching my Dad pick from the fields and watching my Mum fry atop the Aga. Although I am aware of some others that are edible, I would never ever pick them, cook them or eat them without dragging an expert out with me. And never in a million years would I feed them to anyone else. Every year there are reports in the UK of people dying after getting their ID wrong. This is a subject that all novice foragers (like myself) must take seriously.
Now there’s a lot of meat in just one of these beasts, and chances are if you find one, you find half a dozen. Drying them out in a dehydrator is the perfect way to preserve a fungi overload, whether you’ve foraged for them yourself, or just happened to strike a great deal at the local greengrocers.
How to Dehydrate Mushrooms
Clean any visible grass or bugs off the mushrooms. In older, wild mushrooms you can find teeny little white bugs in them. You’ll need to bin these mushrooms if you’re vegan, but if you can handle the thought of consuming them, they won’t do you any harm.
Avoid washing mushrooms in water, instead use a small brush or a damp cloth to remove any stubborn bits of debris, and peel when necessary.
Slice into regular slices, about half an inch thick (depending on your dehydrator), load up the trays leaving plenty of space around each slice for the air to circulate.
Switch on the dehydrator and leave running until each slice is dried out. This batch took 4 or 5 hours, but there are many variables with drying foods so just keep checking on them. When they are crispy dry, switch the machine off and leave them in place for about 20 minutes to cool.
By the time they’ve cooled, they’ll have picked up a little moisture from the air and will no longer be ‘crispy’. That’s OK, just don’t leave them out for too long as too much moisture will cause them to rot in storage.
I crumbled these ones up into a powder to add a lovely earthy flavour and colour to gravies, stews and pies, but feel free to leave them in strips or chunks which can be rehydrated in hot water, or added to any (moist) dish whilst it cooks. Store in an airtight bag or tub where they’ll last for months.
One day I’ll invest in the Rolls Royce of the dehydrator world, the Excalibur Dehydrator. However, in the mean time this cheap and trusty one from Westfalia has done us very proud. It’s in its 6th year of use which is pretty impressive considering the price.
Hope you found this post useful!