If you are a fresh-mushroom aficionado and have an aversion to jarred mushrooms, you are out of luck when they're not in season. Dried mushrooms can fill this need relatively satisfactorily when you have recipes that call for fresh mushrooms. Using dried mushrooms also allows you to use mushroom varieties that might not be readily available where you live in their fresh form. 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. That's a fancy word for rehydrated, and there isn't much to it. Just cover the mushrooms with enough water at room temperature to cover them completely and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes. 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.
The soaking liquid, transformed into a mushroom broth, is quite flavorful and well worth hanging on to. 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.
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 Mushrooms
Dried mushrooms are shelf-stable and take up little space, and that makes them easy to store, but there are other ways to store mushrooms that are worth exploring. You can also keep them by freezing the mushrooms.