Later today, maybe, depending on my pain level (sorry to keep harping on about that, but it’s so bad most days that, even stuffed with morphine, it’s beyond my capacity to deal with it), I want to play with my new dehydrator – my birthday present to me, along with a vacuum sealer for bagging the results.
Yes, folks, from today I can officially sidle up to complete strangers in the supermarket and say, in a quavery voice, “I’m 70, you know!”.
Well, OK, it’s not that old these days, but it’s a landmark I never thought I’d see (nor did anyone else), and considering the burden of disability and pain that’s come with it, I’m not that happy to see it at all.
But, it’s better than the alternative, right?
To be honest, no – but that’s for another day, let’s try and stay positive, for now, at least…
So, then, mushroom powder, a very useful ingredient, and very easy to make. Using a dehydrator it gets a bit more complicated, but this is the method I’ve used successfully for years, for flat field mushrooms (pointless using buttons, they taste of very little), and for Ceps and Shiitake too (I buy fresh field and Shiitake, but dried Ceps, aka Porcini).
You can buy dried Shiitake too, but I’ve not found any that have any taste to speak of – fresh are much better.
It requires no special equipment except except a sharp knife and (preferably), a spice grinder. I use a Krups F203 coffee mill, widely available for around £18 (try Amazon), which I keep exclusively for jobs like this, or you could use a food processor, or a blender. A burr coffee grinder works well, too, but the leathery dried mushrooms squeal like a soul in torment – the little Krups is by far the best option.
First, buy your mushrooms. With a pastry brush, remove any dirt or peat from the field mushrooms or Shiitake, trim the ends of the stalks, and carefully remove them. Set aside, you’ll want them.
Cut the caps into 3mm or 4mm slices (the gills of field mushrooms tend to crumble when cut – collect all the bits and dry them on a scrap of kitchen towel. Cut the stalks of field mushrooms into three, vertically, leave the thin Shiitake stalks as they are.
The radiator in my living room has a grill on the top, onto which I lay out the sliced mushrooms. They take about 8 hours to dry on a warm rad at this time of year, less midwinter when the heat’s cranked up.
Once dry, put in a plastic food bag, seal, then scrunch up to crush the pieces. Dried Ceps are leathery, so you’ll have to tear them up. Put them through whatever grinding device you decide upon until you have a fine powder. Ceps and Shiitake can have hard bits, so I sieve them from the fine powder and blitz them again.
One advantage of being on loads of drugs is that some of them come in food-grade plastic bottles, and some of my supplements in brown glass bottles – all get cleaned and re-used for stuff like this, so when you have the desired texture (I aim for a flour-like result), bottle, seal, label and date.
Based on what I’ve read the stuff keeps for a year, but it gets used up long before then.
Use to add flavour to soups, stews and casseroles. Very good in omelettes and scrambled eggs, too, apparently, though I’ve not tried that.
NB: Because the mushrooms aren’t sterilised before being dried (though I eat raw mushrooms and I’ve never come to harm), I use the powder in cooked dishes only.