Dried mushrooms come in many varieties and include both wild and cultivated fungi, from Oysters and King Oysters, to Shiitakes and Ceps, to Morels and Girolles, and the list goes on. As a general rule, any species that is available fresh can be found in their dried form too. One pound of fresh mushrooms yields approximately 2.5 to 3 ounces of dried mushrooms, or 450 grams fresh yields 70 to 85 grams dried. The purpose of drying fresh mushrooms is to preserve their freshness and make them available year round. This is especially useful for mushrooms with a short growing season as well as those that grow only in the wild.
When selling dried mushrooms, we make sure our packages are not full of dust, since crumbling is a sign that the fungi are past their prime. Packages of dried mushrooms come in both single variety packs and mixed variety packs. Although dried mushrooms are more expensive per gram than fresh mushrooms, they have a concentrated flavor and some people even argue that the dried variety is tastier than fresh, and as mushrooms have a high proportion of water, you aren't paying to ship water. In addition, they have a very long shelf-life and can be stored for upwards of a year in the proper conditions. This makes dried mushrooms not only affordable, but also extremely delicious and very convenient.
To use dried mushrooms in cooking, either rehydrate them or toss them into a grinder and turn the fungi into a seasoning powder. The best way to rehydrate dried mushrooms is to simmer them for 15 minutes to plump up the mushrooms and remove the grit which could easily spoil a meal. The default rehydrating liquid is water, but broth, juice, beer, and wine can also be used. After simmering and draining, the rehydrated mushrooms can be added to meals and the leftover liquid can be used in various recipes as a flavorful broth. Similar to fresh mushrooms, rehydrated mushrooms are great in soups, stews, sauces and stir-fries, just be sure to add them at the beginning of cooking to allow the bold flavors to seep into the other ingredients.
Given the availability of dried mushrooms and the many ways to incorporate them into various lifestyles and diets, they make a great alternative to fresh mushrooms. Further, the health benefits are profound and are comparable to those of fresh mushrooms. These include fighting toxins and carcinogens, preventing anemia and diabetes, aiding in weight loss, increasing strength of immune systems, combating high cholesterol, and protecting against breast cancer and prostate cancer. Best of all, dried mushrooms are available all around the world and at all times of year!