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Bitter dried shiitake mushrooms, what did I do wrong?

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I have some dried shiitake mushrooms and followed the directions for reconstituting them (boiling for 15 minutes and squeezing out excess water). They had an okay texture but they had a gross bitter aftertaste. I'm not sure what I did wrong.

I possibly boiled them longer than 15 minutes. Also the mushrooms themselves are probably kind of old...like at least a year or so.

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  1. Have you had reconstituted dried shiitakes before? Though they're not overwhelmingly bitter to my palate, they are a little bitter and definitely sort of funky, and they work better for cooking than they do for eating plain - they certainly wont taste just like fresh shiitakes.

    When I reconstitute mushrooms, I typically add them to boiling water I just took off the heat and let them steep like tea for a good bit- 15 to 30 minutes maybe. That said, I'm unaware of any bitter compounds that would be created by boiling them to reconstitute, so if there was a problem, it was probably with the mushrooms themselves or how long/the manner in which they were stored.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      I'm with cowboy on this. You did not do anything wrong. I'been using dried mushrooms literally my whole life, and I will be 58 on Sunday (mushrooms are Polish Polish are mushrooms) *smile*
      I have never boiled to reconstitute mushrooms. I pour boiling water over them and left then to seep, something adding a second batch of boiling water if they were really dried.

      I suspect the mushroom themselves are the cause.
      But don't lose hope. It happens to everyone, a product fails and we think it was us. Just get back up and try again with a new product, I get all my shiitakes from Asian stores. Better selection, price and much fresher product.

      1. re: Quine

        Are you leaving the stems on? The stems could be bitter, and it is not usually used. When ever we buy shitake mushrooms, we pull off the stems (using pliers) before storage in a dark dry place (it keeps for quite (over a year) awhile under proper condition) in airtight containers.

        We always cook the reconstituted Shitake mushrooms. I soak it over night in hot water. Change the water once. The 2nd soaking water can be used in broths/soups.

        Not all shitakes are created equal. We buy it in chinese herbal stores (almost never buy it from general markets..mostly because herbal stores have better selection, higher turnover & price). Good ones are thick caps with white "cracks" running through the top. Prices reflect the quality...but they aren't cheap.

    2. I boughr Costco's dried wild mushroom mix only once because they were so bitter. Label said something like packed in North America, which I take to mean grown elsewhere, probably China, which is the source of a lot of dried mushrooms. Whether it's the fungi themselves or possible contamination in the soil/growth medium, who knows? That said, I don't find the dried shiitakes from Asian markets to be noticeably bitter and like the other posters, I either steep them in boiling water or just add them as is to soups and sauces at the start of cooking.

      1. I just steep them in room temperature water for several hours, but I suppose there is nothing wrong to seep them in boiling water except there may be less taste to them afterward -- which is not your stated problem. It is possible that you have a different threshold for bitterness and you notice the bitterness where others do not. Or your dried shiitake is messed up. Go buy a different batch from a different stores. See what happen.

        1. Why did you boil them?

          Shiitake mushrooms when cooked (i.e. boiled for 15 minutes) by themselves taste bitter. But when cooked with other ingredients, or combined, they can be quite chameleon-like and even add a nice earthy tone to your dishes.

          Next time, try steeping just using regular room temp water -- shouldn't take longer than an hour, tops.

          Also did you eat the stems? The stems are not only tough, but can indeed retain a very bitter aftertaste -- just sometimes, not always, however.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Ipse-dear, yes! I have used dried shiitakes for my recent forays into Korean cooking...they are wonderful WITH dried anchovies and kelp (kombu) to make a most delicious stock...I must say, after gently simmering them with the dried anchovies and kelp, and then chopping them up, the texture is still pretty darned chewy...but I have not detected any bitterness....I agree that it may be due to the fact that they were cooked by themselves.

          2. Shitake mushrooms are NEVER naturally bitter. Your bitter Shitakes were likely from China. At every step from farm to processing to packaging, the Chinese use chemicals to maximize yield and produce a product with the desired visual characteristics. The chemicals used are known toxins, but are used with the rationale that they do not significantly affect taste or the consumer's health. An excellent source of clean dried Asian mushrooms is Eden Foods.

            1 Reply
            1. re: herbivore_mi

              At every step from farm to processing to packaging, the Chinese use chemicals to maximize yield and produce a product with the desired visual characteristics. The chemicals used are known toxins, but are used with the rationale that they do not significantly affect taste or the consumer's health.
              ______________________________

              Known toxins? Do you have a source for that?

              I have had several packages of Shitakes from China, which were not bitter and certainly didn't seem to have any "known toxins".