Drying Wild & Cultivated Mushrooms

If you have found a bounty of wild mushrooms at your local farm stand or farmers’ market, it might be wise to tuck some away for the winter ahead.

CAUTION!: Do not pick wild mushrooms if you do not know what you are doing! Look for them from reliable sources, or talk to your local extension agent for advice on classes.

There are many ways to do it, but in general you will need dry air, circulation, and patience.

The easiest way to dry them is to use a dehydrator. If you don’t own one, borrowing may be a option; perhaps you know someone who has one tucked away in the storage room.

My mother used to dry herbs and small fruits and veggies between two screens outside during cool fall weather. It might take a couple of days, but it certainly is easy. She used old screen windows lined with cheesecloth, and this worked great. Low tech as well. You can also string them up on fishing line and air dry them naturally, outside is best since there might be too much humidity indoors.

I use my oven, but every oven is different and you will have to experiment.

I dry maitaki, also know as hen of the woods mushrooms, most years as they are abundant and one mushroom can be twice the size of my head! They tend to have lots of tree debris, so I give them a good cleaning with a soft brush, then cut them into the size pieces I desire, but on the thin side of course. Then, I brush them off again.

Dried Maitaki
These dried Hen of the Woods mushrooms will keep pretty much indefinitely!

Place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer. I have my oven set to its lowest, with the door halfway ajar – you don’t want to “cook” them, just dry them out, so the lower the better. This takes about five hours with my oven, but check on them every couple of hours. You want them to be dry, not rubbery, or they will not keep.

Fully cool them, then place them in a canning jar or other container and store in a cool, dry place.

F Hen o' the Woods
Hen of the Woods mushrooms can easily grow bigger than your head. We often find them at farm stands and farmers’ markets in the fall.