There's a dried fungus among us... Dried Mushrooms in Bulk
by Lisa Vines
If you’re interested in dried mushrooms, the Co-op carries the following organic fungi: porcini, shiitake, chanterelle, maitake, as well as a mushroom medley consisting of shiitake, chanterelle, porcini, oyster, maitake and cremini mushrooms. Why would a person be interested in dried mushrooms? Well, they’re available year-round, in places when and where they might not be possible to grow. Because they do not require refrigeration and are lightweight, they are relatively straightforward and inexpensive to transport.
They also store well, up to a year if kept in a clean, dry, airtight container. Their intense flavor easily enhances dishes. According to www.dried.mushrooms.- com.us, mushrooms contain 2% to 4% protein and all the essential amino acids, and thereby provide complete protein. They also contain vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus and many B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid). Low in calories and carbohydrates, free of sodium and fat, and high in fiber, mushrooms are a welcome addition to appropriate recipes, and the dried version is a good staple to add to the shopping basket.
Some of these varieties aren’t cheap: the dried chanterelle, for example, sells for (last I checked) $69.75 a pound. Yes, you read that right. Chanterelles are prized for their delicate fruity fragrance. Even when fresh, they are notoriously expensive. The mushroom medley, however, at $26.99 a pound, still seems pricey. But take a step back to consider these details: fresh mushrooms are mostly water (80–90% water), and these mushrooms are dried, so they’re pretty light, and a little bit of dried mushroom goes a long way. One dry ounce produces seven to ten ounces when reconstituted. A little over a cup of the above mentioned dried mushroom medley costs $2.69 at the Co-op. Note the small amount of dried porcini in the following risotto recipe: one ounce.
To prepare dried mushrooms for cooking, the cook needs to return the water to the mushrooms, and soaking them in very hot water is the preferred method. It’s recommended to rinse the mushrooms before soaking to remove any grit. Of the various soaking methods I’ve read, the one that is preferred is to boil water and then soak the mushrooms in the water (just enough to cover) for 20 to 30 minutes. Save the water; use it in soups or broths. It will add flavor to the later product.
Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Julee Rosso and Sheila Lunkins, The New Basics: Cookbook
Dried Wild Mushroom Risotto
(from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
1 oz. dried porcini
(also known as boletes)
Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup of warm water for 30 minutes. Lift them out and strain the liquid. Add the liquid to the stock and bring it to a simmer. Finely chop the mushrooms. Heat the butter in a wide soup pot, add shallots, and cook over a medium heat until translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and wine and simmer until the wine is absorbed, stirring a few times; then add 2 cups stock, cover, and cook at a lively simmer until it’s absorbed. Begin adding the stock in half cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next. When the rice is cooked, stir in the parley, cheese, and an additional tablespoon or two of butter. Season to taste.
(also from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
½ to 1 oz.
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, and sauté over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is well browned (about 15 minutes). Scrap the bottom of the pan to loosen the juices that collect there. Add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the remaining ingredients, and 9 cups water. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Strain before using.
Mushroom Tomato Sauce
This recipe makes use of the rich flavor of dried mushrooms; the addition of fresh mushrooms makes the dish less expensive. Feel free to add herbs as needed.
1 cup dried
mushrooms (mushroom medley)
Soak the rinsed mushrooms in very hot water 20–30 minutes until soft. Sauté onions and minced garlic in the olive oil or butter until translucent. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low 15 minutes, uncovered. Strain the dried mushrooms (save the water for a soup) and cut the larger mushrooms into smaller pieces. Add them and the fresh mushrooms to the pan. Simmer another 10 minutes. Season to taste.Serve over pasta, such as whole wheat linguine (also available in bulk!).