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Dried mushrooms? What's the point?

I notice a lot of seemingly reputable recipes call for the inclusion of dried or reconstituted mushrooms. Before this I thought that may be because it's hard to get fresh mushrooms, but maybe there's another reason? Is there a better flavor payoff? Is it an accessibility thing? They don't seem more affordable but maybe they are?

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  1. They have a very different flavor. They cost more too. Some varieties are wild and seasonal.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CCSPRINGS

      The cost by weight isn't directly comparable, since most of the weight of fresh mushrooms is water. I'm not sure they still cost more if you correct for this.

      1. re: Scrofula

        One pound(16OZ) of fresh Mushrooms yields 1.6 OZ of Dried

    2. An deep intense mushroom flavor, plus you get the juice for adding to a pan sauce or stock for mushroom soup.

      2 Replies
      1. re: treb

        or to a stock for any vegetable soup. Paula Wolfert has a great tuscan kale soup and adding the dried mushroom soaking liquid is an inspired addition. I think the original Greens resto cookbook has a great mushroom stock recipe that's used as the basis for lasagna. You can puree the reconstituted mushrooms in pureed soups.

        1. re: treb

          I always strain and save the reconstituted mushroom broth for later use. Especially good in something like beef stroganoff for an earthier flavor.

          For the OP - seasonality is one reason. And some fresh wild mushrooms don't travel as well, so by drying them, they're more available to those that might want them.

        2. I think it's mostly accessibility but fresh have such a high and sometimes unpredictable moisture content it's easier to write directions for dried.

          1. Wow, all really helpful answers. I did notice some varieties I can only get dried. I knew there had to be a good reason to try them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: iheartcooking

              Yes, some are only available to me dried so I have to use dried if I want to eat those mushrooms. Also as mentioned above the soaking liquid is great to add to the recipe.

            2. In addition to everything already posted, reconsisted dry mushrooms have a different texture. Shitakes, for example, are more chewy than fresh and I mean that in a good way. Love them!

              2 Replies
              1. re: tcamp

                Yeah I'm not overly fond of that texture, forgot to mention that before. But, I don't hate it, so this ingredient is worth exploring.

                1. re: iheartcooking

                  I am also not fond of the texture and to me a lot of dried mushrooms even different varieties seem to all taste similar.

              2. Just like dried herbs, dried mushrooms often have a very different flavor platform than their fresh counterparts.

                Sometimes, they have a more intense, deeper flavor; other times the flavor - and texture - are just different. In a desirable way.

                1. I think it started out as availability (i.e., go out mushroom gathering, use what you can and dry the rest), then became tradition.

                  1. The drying process tends to increase umami - so using dried mushrooms can add an oomph and depth to the flavour that can't be achieved with fresh ones.

                    As an aside - I love using the small dried shitake (< 4cm in size) but I don't care for the large ones. I find the large ones have a gummy flavour when reconstituted that I don't enjoy.

                    The drying/umami connection holds for a lot of ingredients - dried shrimp, dried fish, dried radish, dried chestnuts, dried scallops, and so on. A lot of Chinese recipes will specifically call for the above rather than the fresh equivalent, even when both are readily available.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                      Hi, tastesgood:

                      For a real umami kick, try dehydrating the 'shrooms of choice, then FP'ing them into powder. There're very few savory preps that can't benefit from 1-2T of mushroom powder.

                      I buy flats from the grocery supply houses just for this purpose.

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I have lots of dried porcini from Nor Cal. I put them in my spice grinder to make powder. Really goes great on pan fried fish.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Yeah, I do the pulverized shitakes as a flavour boost.

                          I have a coffee grinder dedicated to non coffee items, with an insert that is washable.

                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                            I've never seen a washable insert. Do you know the brand?

                      2. There is another post about this, but I cannot find. Basically, you can view the drying process add a depth to the mushroom. Dried mushroom (after reconstituted) taste different than the fresh counterparts.

                        I find this particularly true for the Shiitake mushroom.

                        No, affordable ability is not the main reason.

                        Kind of like dried chili peppers. Dried peppers are not quite the same as fresh peppers.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          For a while I was growing by own Shitake mushrooms - it's hard to beat the flavor of a really fresh picked one. Now, if it's been picked for several hours, I could see that a dried mushroom might taste better.

                          1. re: kagemusha49

                            Super fresh mushrooms, huh? :)

                            I think sometime it is not better or worse. It is just different, and for different usage.
                            For example, dried fish and fresh fish do not taste similar, and have different usages.

                        2. I don't have any dried white button mushrooms-- but I have shiitake and morels and porcini, all dried -- it's a great way to have mushrooms on hand that are either difficult to find fresh (and expensive when you do) -- and/or very seasonal.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sunshine842

                            This is the exact reason I have taken to buying dried mushrooms. I don't have to run out every time a recipe calls for mushrooms.

                          2. Affordable?? Dried shitake (and other asian dried mushrooms) are an absolute steal, _if_ bought at local asian markets. I can buy a very large package of dried shitakes (12 oz) for less than 1/2 the price of fresh. They store forever, reconstitute in any warm liquid in 15 minutes and change the flavor of anything they are added to. Shallots, garlic and A pound of fresh white button or baby bella mushrooms (from Aldi !) sauteed and combined w/6 oz of reconstituted shitakes (in hot vegetable or chicken stock) is my base for mushroom soup or addition to braises, casseroles etc.

                            I stopped shopping @ Whole Paycheck or T.Joe for almost everything I can buy cheaper and better at the mexican/asian/indian/international markets in town. Selection of dried mushrooms (and chiles, herbs, spices,) is massively better, prices are a fraction of WF and the market owners are local people.

                            exception? Chanterelles.

                            1. I buy dried porcinis and wild mushrooms because they are often cheaper as well as offer a ton of flavor.
                              Asian supermarkets have a wonderful variety of dried mushrooms as well.

                              I use them most often for soups or stews, the almost chewy texture is great.

                              1. If you don't like the texture but enjoy the taste of mushrooms, the powder offers choice.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Porcini powder is fantastic. I sprinkle it on a lot of things - steak, eggs, etc.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    I just had porcini powder in my homemade onion soup for lunch. Love the stuff on everything. One dried mushroom generates a great deal of powder once ground. And as light as they are you get a great many for the lb price.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      I've not tried grinding them into powder, but will now have to do so. Thanks, fieldhawk!

                                    2. re: HillJ

                                      I store my fresh mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the fridge to keep dry. Discovered any totally dried out ones could be thrown in the electric spice/coffee mill, ground to powder & used in all kinds of soups & sauces, imparting wonderful flavor.

                                      1. re: Taralli

                                        Wow great idea. I also store them in a brown paper bag. I discovered a lost bag last week with a few stray dried mushrooms. I tossed them but now if it happens again I know what to do with them.

                                    3. If you ever want an online source, I buy from this supplier:

                                      http://www.theposter.com/mushroom2.html

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Wow! I was pricing dried morels locally and these are about half the price per oz. sans s/h.

                                        1. re: meatn3

                                          And an outstanding seller too. I also buy vanilla beans, saffron from same outfit.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Same here. Can't say enough positive things about this seller of porcini, saffron and vanilla beans! And their extracts are really good, too.

                                          2. re: meatn3

                                            Call them. They'll work with you on the least expensive shipping option if it's feasible. Make sure you try their Mexican vanilla and flavor extracts, too.

                                          3. re: HillJ

                                            I was hoping someone would save me the trouble of posting a link to one of my all-time favorite vendors. :)

                                          4. My stepdaughter hates fresh mushrooms. But I can make a mushroom risotto which is made with an intense mushroom broth and finely chopped dried (reconstituted) mushrooms in the risotto that she adores.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                              for some the texture of fresh is the whole issue. not me but I can understand.

                                            2. Wild mushrooms are seasonal. Sometimes you are up to your ears in a given species, while most of the year they are not available. Some mushrooms, black trumpets for example, are as good dried as fresh. Chanterelles, on the other hand, loose that delicate apricot scent and once reconstituted, they are a bit tough. Porcini are good either way. Drying can concentrate flavors. A small handful of dried mushrooms can flavor stock as intensely as any bouillon cube. It varies greatly with the species of mushroom. Not all mushrooms can be dried. Shaggy manes are too fragile, they'll liquify. Often the author of a recipe doesn't know mushrooms. Wild mushrooms might mean anything besides "Agaricus bisporus" (button, crimini, portabello). Wild mushrooms is pretty vague, it's kind of like having a recipe that calls for two cups of vegetables or a half a pound of fruit.

                                              1. Black Trumpet Chanterelles are actually improved by drying. They get an additional beautiful perfume flavor/aroma.

                                                1. I make a kickass mushroom barley soup with both fresh and dried mushrooms. I always use dried shitakes, but love dried chantrelles and morels. The combination is perfect.

                                                  1. I used dried mushrooms when I want a super earthy "mushroomy" flavor - I find that the dried mushrooms themselves have a much more concentrated mushroom flavor, not to mention that the rehydrating liquid winds up a super flavorful mushroom "broth" addition to the risotto or dirty rice or dressing or soup that I'm making.

                                                    1. This is the recipe that sold me on the idea of dried mushrooms.
                                                      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gi...

                                                      1. Anyone have a good (quality and price) online source for dried mushrooms and mushroom powder? Thanks!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                          Look a few posts further upthread - HillJ posted a link.

                                                        2. When I reconstitute dried porcini, I save the water -- but then carefully decant it before adding it to a sauce. The 'shrooms have sand or some other grit in them, which sinks to the bottom of the water. For that reason I also rinse them after removing them from the water. As I understand it, other mushrooms are not grown in soil, rather in compost (or on logs) so grit might not be an issue.
                                                          My local store sells dry porcini for about $70 per pound and porcini powder for about $60. I've never tried the powder.

                                                          Often times dried items will taste quite different from fresh -- think grapes versus raisins.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Joel

                                                            I pour the soaking through a coffee filter to remove the "grit".

                                                          2. Dried porcini add flavor to sauces, even when they are in bits to small to eat. Also they are cheaper in some cases and they don't rot.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. I think twice about buying cheap dried mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms are now grown on some kind of aggregate/composite medium. I saw organic dried mushrooms in a chinese store once, and the organic food production system in China is separate from their conventional agriculture, so I might trust that; otherwise, I buy from sources I know (and forage and grow some of my own).