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How exactly does drying foods make it more flavorful?

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Mushrooms, crustaceans, mollusks, proscuitto, fruits, cheeses....what is it about drying out foods that changes and greatly intensifies flavors? Is there a fermentation process/chemical change within the food or is it simply the evaporation of water that causes flavors to be concentrated and more easily tasted?

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  1. " simply the evaporation of water that causes flavors to be concentrated"

    This!

    2 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      This can't be all there is to it. Dried mushrooms, rehydrated and added to a dish, taste very different than the same mushrooms sauteed fresh to remove the water. I'm inclined to say that there is breakdown of proteins strictly from the drying process that leads to a higher free glutamate content, among other things.

      1. re: Wahooty

        In the case of drying mushrooms, I think there may be an enzyme reaction that goes on that intensifies and changes the flavors. A few years ago I foraged 12 lbs. of black trumpet chanterelles and dried them very slowly. Sooo much better when reconstituted than fresh. (12 lbs ended up 1lb when dry)

    2. depends how they were dried. as meatn3 says, water loss = flavor concentration. but also adding salt, yeast fermentation, lactic fermentation, etc. all change and strengthen flavors.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JMF

        In the case of mushrooms I assume nothing else is added but something about reconstituted mushrooms as opposed to their fresh form has a much more intense umami flavor