This article provides you all the information you need to know about the many benefits of dried Shiitake mushrooms. You will also learn some good recommendations on where to find them.
Shiitake mushrooms, regardless of what form they are in, will always yield excellent health benefits. This is regardless of how you choose to consume them.
Many people think fresh produce is always better. Of course, this is true in most cases and you should always strive to include fresh products into your diet.
But shiitake mushrooms are actually better when dried. Here is all you need to know about dried shiitake mushrooms.
What is a Shiitake mushroom?
The shiitake mushroom is an enormously popular mushroom for 2 reasons.
The first is that they are extremely healthy. Their many health benefits help with numerous types of ailments, including heart diseases and certain cancer conditions.
The other is that they are amazingly tasty and flavorsome, complimenting the overall flavor of dishes, especially added to soups.
There are thousands of different types or species of mushrooms that exist in the world and the majority of them are poisonous. Those that are the edible kind are prized for their health and taste benefits, including some for their rarity.
The shiitake mushroom is native to China and one of the few edible kind that are available all year round. That’s why you find them in many Chinese dishes. Chinese medicine has a long history of using shiitake mushrooms for many ailments.
The Shiitake mushroom is the second most grown or cultivated mushroom in the world. This mushroom belongs to a category called Saprotrophic, which is one of four categories designed to differentiate mushroom species apart. Saprotrophic mushrooms feed off dead plant matter for sustenance.
Mushrooms of the Saprotrophic species are essential to the ecosystem. They are important because they play a vital role in nature’s food chain. They decompose dead tissue or decay matter, which is why you commonly find shiitake mushrooms on decaying trees and plants.
Why do you want to use dried?
Shiitake mushrooms cook quicker than other varieties because they are softer. Eating them fresh is very popular due to their taste, often used raw in many fresh dishes.
Despite their already powerful aroma and flavor, there is another form of shiitake mushrooms that’s even more flavorsome. Drying the fungus produces a much more intense fragrance and taste.
Shiitake mushrooms hold about 90% water content. Cooking the mushroom releases the water trapped inside it, intensifying the flavor in the process. The nutrients contained within also increase during cooking.
Ideally, the mushroom needs its water content reduced to below 10% to create the perfect balance.
This is why many shiitake mushroom lovers prefer to cook with dried options over fresh ones. When shiitake is thoroughly dried, the strong flavor it contains is increased even further. The amazing meaty and smoky taste of this mushroom becomes much more prevalent, a perfect addition to any meal.
How are shiitake mushrooms dried?
Dried shiitake mushrooms typically come in tightly sealed packaging, to prevent them losing their wonderful flavor.
That is also why dried shiitake mushrooms have such an incredible shelf life – ranging from months to years.
If you have never used dried shiitake mushrooms before, then you need to know that there are two ways you can consume them. You can either eat them straight out of the packet as a snack, or you can cook with them, adding the mushroom to most meals.
Re-hydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms if you wish to cook with them. Re-hydrating them isn’t necessarily a requirement and if you choose not to, just pop them straight into your stir-fry to simmer.
But by properly re-hydrating dried shiitake before cooking will cause the mushrooms to intensify their flavor. Here are 3 simple steps to help you re-hydrate dried shiitake mushrooms back to perfection.
Empty the dried shiitake mushrooms into a suitably-sized bowl. Pour hot or boiling water into the bowl and fill it to the top.
The cap of the mushrooms should be facing up so when you cover the bowl, the caps fully submerge in the water. If the mushrooms are floating above the water, fill the bowl to the rim so the lid will force them under.
Stop any steam from escaping by sealing the bowl with a lid, foil or plate. Leave the mushrooms to soak for around 20 minutes.
Ensure the mushrooms are fully re-hydrated after 20 minutes, otherwise, you’ll miss out on their maximum potential.
The size of the mushrooms or caps determine whether they’ll need longer than the average soaking time. Soak average-sized shiitake mushrooms for 20 minutes, with smaller ones taking less and larger ones taking more time.
Remove a mushroom and give it a gentle squeeze. If it feels tender and spongy, the soaking is complete.
The water used to re-hydrate the mushrooms will contain a substantial amount of flavor from the mushrooms and is useful for other recipes as needed.
Once the mushrooms are properly re-hydrated, rain the water from the bowl.
To re-use the water for other recipes, run it through a sieve to remove any bits of grit and material.
Slice the shiitake mushrooms to your required size. Depending on your taste, remove the stems as they remain difficult to chew, even after cooking.
To reduce waste, use the stems for stock or other recipes.
If you kept the water from earlier in the process, combine it with the stems for a healthy and tasty shiitake mushroom soup.
How do you store dried shiitake mushrooms?
Fresh shiitake mushrooms do not last as long as dried ones, remaining fresh for about two weeks. After that, they slowly lose their appealing taste and nutritional value.
Dried shiitake mushrooms last for much, much longer. Exactly how long they last will depend on the product or brand, as well as how and where you store them.
Not all recipes will require entire contents of dried shiitake mushroom packets. Store remaining mushrooms in sealed plastic bags or air-tight containers in a cool dry place.
Removing more air from the stored packets will increase their shelf-life. One piece of advice is if you live in a home or area with high humidity, store your dried shiitake mushrooms in the fridge.
How to use dried shiitake mushrooms?
Shiitake mushrooms are native to China. A lot of Chinese or Asian dishes use them as ingredients. Dried shiitake mushrooms compliment soups, stir-fries, stews, and braised type meals.
Both fresh and dried shiitake mushrooms add a strong and very distinct flavor to recipes.
Use dried mushrooms in the two ways described above, many options available from Amazon.
Here are some great examples of the wonderful shiitake mushroom products available.
Look for these types of dried shiitake mushrooms if you plan to cook with them. There are many different brands available and MIT is one I recommend.
Different-sized dried shiitake mushrooms are available. Buy enough to use and also store away, the shelf-life of the dried mushroom perfect for safe-keeping.
This product by The Snak Yard is another fantastic dried shiitake mushroom option. Eat these as a snack whenever you feel like an alternative treat.
This particular product comes in a two-pack deal if purchased, already seasoned and cooked to crispy perfection. Enjoy.
The DJ&A dried shiitake mushroom snack meal is also a good choice and comes with two packs.
Cooked and seasoned a little less than other products, this brand is perfect for those who enjoy more of the natural taste of raw mushrooms with just a hint of seasoning.
This guide for dried shiitake mushrooms should give you the complete knowledge and confidence to better understand this amazing product. With a little practice, and the simple steps given here, you will create your own amazing dried shiitake mushroom experiences.
Falling in love with this mushroom in its true from is already easy enough. But discovering their versatility and intense flavors in dried form is an experience worth trying out for yourself!
Discover some amazing shiitake mushroom recipes here: