Toi Degree: It’s not hard to dry Shiitakes or cook with them

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 23, 2015

By Toi Degree

Rowan Cooperative Extension

So, you have an over abundance of Shiitake (she-TAH-kee) mushrooms and you don’t know what to do with them? Well keep reading for some ways to store and prepare your mushrooms.

Shiitakes (“shii” is Japanese for oak and “take” means mushroom) are delicious, with a meaty texture and four times the flavor of white button mushrooms.

Shiitakes provide high levels of protein (18 percent by mass), potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The mushroom has all essential amino acids.

Fresh shiitakes will keep in the refrigerator two to three weeks. They can be used the same way as white button mushrooms: sautéed, fried, barbecued, baked, boiled and raw.

If you would like to keep them longer, try drying them. Shiitakes can be dried in a food dehydrator (probably only 2 to 3 pounds at a time) or in a controlled forced air or convection air dryer. They can also be dried in the sun, but their visual quality may not be as pleasing to the eye as when dried with an air dryer or dehydrator.

When mushrooms are dried in the sun, they will absorb vitamin D, which greatly improves their nutritional value and may compensate for their less-than-perfect appearance.

Prepare mushrooms either by cutting the stalk off (the stalk can become woody when dried) or dry only the caps (whole or sliced), face down.

The mushroom pieces (caps or slices) can be spread out in a single layer on a special drying rack or on clean screens. Be sure to have good air flow on both sides and a nice, warm, sunny day – say about 50 degrees. In one day the pieces can dry to the recommended 13 percent moisture content.  Store in an airtight container till you are ready to use; they will be good for six months to a year.

Shiitake mushrooms can also be used in soups, sauces, risottos, noodle dishes, stir-fry, in burgers or as a burger and so much more. They are quite delicious, and their pungent, woodsy flavor, combined with other flavors make for a wonderful dish.  If you’ve never tried them, pick up some today and try them and see how well you like them.  If you are a mushroom lover you will wonder why you haven’t tried them sooner.

For recipes simply Google shiitake mushrooms recipes and you will come up with about 701,000 or more results in about .5 seconds.

Toi N. Degree, family and consumer education agent, Rowan County Cooperative Extension Service, 704-216-8970 or e-mail: toi_degree@ncsu.edu.

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