From the end of August to the beginning of October they are organized trips in the woods in search of mushrooms! We equip ourselves with shoes suitable for crumbly soil, a small knife to collect mushrooms and the inevitable wicker basket for transport. An activity with the scent of earth and of nature that makes us go home satisfied and with the side dish ready! But let's assume (which is quite rare) that you don't want to eat the collected mushrooms right away and keep them for the winter period? What are the most suitable conservation methods for mushrooms? How to clean, store and dry them properly? Find out with us!
No, they are not all the same. They don't all give the same yield. If you are wondering which varieties of mushrooms are most suitable for conservation, you are on the right article!
Porcini mushrooms: the best. They boast a very fragrant and very firm pulp; this variety lends itself very well to being stored in any way: in oil, frozen and even dried.
Champignon mushrooms: suitable for preservation in oil. An advice? When you go to preserve them in oil, add some aromatic herbs or spices, you will give more flavor and character to a mushroom with a very soft and delicate flavor.
Chanterelle mushrooms: very thin. This variety of mushroom is not particularly fleshy therefore, it is not recommended to dry them. They give their best if preserved in oil.
Clean the mushrooms
First rule: do not pass them under water, the mushrooms must be cleaned before being dried by following these simple rules. As a first step you will have to cut the end of the stem then, with a potato peeler, peel the stem removing the most earthy part. With the help of a hard bristle brush or a brush carefully clean the stem and head. Let's move on to the chapels: take a small knife and scrape them gently eliminating all the excess land then, with the help of a damp cloth, wipe them gently to remove any residues. It is true, they are the kings of the wood, and as such they are a much coveted meal even by parasites. How to check that there are none? Slice the chapels and lightly salt the slices: if they contain small insects they will come out in a few moments. Otherwise they will be ready to be dried and stored.
Dry the mushrooms
But do you know that there are more drying methods? Today we will talk about drying with wire, in the oven, in crates. For each type of drying, we advise you to prefer porcini mushrooms, firm and fresh.
Drying with wire: here you can choose whether to dry the whole mushrooms, especially if they are small in size, otherwise cut them in slices of 3-4 mm. The first step is to to clean mushrooms, avoid washing them under running water, at this stage use a small brush or a hard bristle brush to remove any residue of earth. Next, thread a large needle with a long thread of kitchen yarn and pierce the mushroom slices as if you were making necklaces out of them. Don't "sew" the mushroom slices too close together, always leave a little space between one slice and another in order to let air pass and avoiding the creation of humidity. Hanging your mushroom necklaces in the sun and in an airy place: after 24 hours you will get fragrant slices of dried mushrooms. Yes, we know, for a few days, especially in the North, the temperatures have dropped a lot and it is not always possible to dry mushrooms with the wire method. But fear not, try drying in the oven!
Oven drying: we assume that this method is not as fast as the first one, it will take a long time. Get started cleaning (always without water but with a brush or a small brush) e cutting sliced mushrooms not too thin and spread them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Turn on the oven, preferably ventilated, at a very low temperature, 50-60 ° at the most. Keep them warm for about 2 hours taking care never to close the door, keep it slightly ajar. After two hours, take them out of the oven and place them in dry jars, close them with their lids and leave them in the pantry until ready for use. Attention, read carefully: do not leave them in the oven for more than two hours, if you dry them too much you risk tasting their scent and making it vanish.
Drying in boxes: first of all get yourself a wooden box, the classic ones for the transport of fruit and vegetables. Then proceed with cleaning the mushrooms and cut them into slices of a couple of millimeters. Arrange the slices in a row, always taking care to leave space between each of them to promote air circulation. Now, if a very hot sun still shines in your city, you can take advantage of it to dry the mushrooms under its rays; after 5 or 6 hours turn mushrooms and leave them exposed to the sun for the same amount of time. Once dried, you can place them in very dry glass jars.
The litmus test to understand if your mushrooms have dried properly is to break one and see its inside: if it is still wet, let it dry a little longer!
Duration: dried mushrooms last up to a year if stored correctly. Check every now and then that no mold has formed inside the jars.
And if you would like freeze the mushrooms? Follow our tips to freeze them cooked or raw.
Freeze and thaw raw mushrooms
First of all make sure that your freezer reaches a minimum temperature of -25 °, at higher temperatures, the mushrooms will not freeze properly and the result will be disappointing. Then, once cleaned properly, choose mushrooms that have the same size, otherwise cut them into regular slices: it is a little trick to ensure that they freeze at the same time and not in several phases. Put them in the special bags, let the excess air out, seal the bag and place the mushrooms in the freezer drawer. For defrost raw mushrooms the first piece of advice we give you is not to let them defrost at room temperature because they would become too soft and even during cooking the consistency is not optimal. Therefore, the best way to thaw them is to immerse the bag (still closed) for a few seconds in boiling water so that they soften without absorbing excess water.
Freeze and thaw the cooked mushrooms
The first method is undoubtedly the fastest and most immediate; freezing cooked mushrooms takes longer but (and there is always a but!) better preserves the scent of mushrooms once thawed. Proceed: fry a chopped shallot in a knob of butter (the less fat you use, the longer the storage time: you can always integrate them when heating the mushrooms), add the sliced mushrooms and sauté them over high heat for 5-6 minutes. Add salt before removing from the heat and let it cool as quickly as possible. Divide the mushrooms into single-serving glass freezer containers, avoiding overfilling them, then place them in the freezer. When needed thaw them following this method: take a pan, transfer the still frozen mushrooms and let them defrost over very low heat. At this stage you can also choose to add an aromatic mince to start flavoring them!
Duration: on average, frozen mushrooms, both cooked and raw, last 3 months. If stored longer they risk losing their aroma, taste and consistency.
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