Dried mushrooms are a handy pantry item since they contain all of the flavors of fresh mushrooms with an almost unlimited shelf life. If you are a fresh-mushroom aficionado and have an aversion to jarred mushrooms, dried mushrooms are a great option. Plus, you may be able to find varieties dried, like porcini and morels, that are often unavailable at your local market fresh. But how do you use dried mushrooms when a recipe calls for fresh? Here’s the scoop on getting the substitution right.
How Many Mushrooms to Use
Use about three ounces of dried mushrooms for every pound of fresh mushrooms called for in the recipe. That might not seem like enough, but once they’re reconstituted, the mushrooms will expand to give you the pound of fresh mushrooms needed in the recipe.
How to Reconstitute Mushrooms
Dried mushrooms need to be reconstituted before they’re used in place of fresh mushrooms. Reconstitution is just a fancy word for rehydration, and there isn't much to it. Just cover the mushrooms with enough room temperature water to cover them completely and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes on the countertop. Once they’re finished soaking, remove the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and rinse them in cool water to get rid of any residual grit. Then add them to your recipe and proceed as written.
The soaking liquid, now transformed into a mushroom broth, is quite flavorful and well worth saving. Strain it through a coffee filter or a paper towel to remove the grit. You can then use it in place of some of the liquid in your recipe to add a bit more mushroom flavor or freeze it to use later in soup, risotto, and more.
If You're in a Hurry
Soak your dried mushrooms in warm or hot water to reconstitute them faster. Just know that the hot water will pull more flavor out of the mushrooms. Since that flavor will be transferred to the broth, you can correct the loss of flavor by using some of the mushroom broth in your recipe.
If you plan to use your mushrooms in soup, you can also save time by skipping the reconstitution process. Just add them to the soup pot in their dried form and they’ll reconstitute as the soup cooks. The only drawback to this method is that your soup could turn out a bit gritty since you won’t be soaking and rinsing the mushrooms first. This poses more of a problem with grittier mushrooms, like morels, than it does with not-so-gritty mushrooms, like chanterelles.
How to Store Dried Mushrooms
Dried mushrooms are shelf-stable and take up little space, making them easy to store in an airtight container in your pantry. Reconstituted dried mushrooms can be stored in the fridge for two to three days or frozen. Mushroom broth will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for three months.