DRYING YOUR MUSHROOMS
Nan's Nook : Archives : Drying/Storage : Desiccators
The way that you dry your
mushrooms is one of the most important things in determining the final quality
of your harvest. It is very important to know that heat breaks down the goodies
in the sacred fruits. As well as light, especially ultraviolet light.
So, knowing this, should rule out some conventional dehydrators, that operate with heat and moving air. But how can you dry your mushrooms, without using heat or light? With a very cool useful and harmless, non-toxic chemical known as: Calcium Chloride. It is designed to absorb moisture fast.
We like calcium chloride. It's great. It's the only alternative to heat for us, and it's completely safe to you, your sacred ones, and Mother Nature.
What you do with this is:
1. Find a plastic container that is big enough to fit all your freshly picked mushrooms, without being cramped with one another. Make sure it has a tight lid.
2. Pour enough calcium chloride to cover the whole bottom of your container about an inch. Work fast as it will dissolve quickly if exposed to moist air for long.
3. You cannot lay your mushrooms directly on the calcium chloride. What works best is to lay them on top of some mesh that you can find at your local hardware store (Home-Depot). Cut this mesh to fit your container, plus add a little height to it by cutting and bending the 4 sides inward a little bit. Bring it up about 1/2 an inch from the calcium chloride.
4. If one of your mushrooms falls on the calcium chloride, remove it immediately and shake off any pellets that are stuck to it. The calcium chloride immediately dissolves a little and will leave a mark where it was, but no real harm will be done.
5. Now lay all your mushrooms on top of your mesh leaving a little bit of space between each one.
6. Flip and turn your mushrooms as often as you'd like, so they dry evenly and faster.
7. Eventually the top layer of your calcium chloride will turn into a hard, glossy shell. You don't want to waste any of it, so what you do is flip this shell over so that the bottom of it is at the top now. There should be some nicer looking pellets at the bottom of that shell, so use them before you completely toss this hard thing away. When you do throw away some of the calcium chloride, it is recommended that you top it off again with some fresh calcium chloride.
8. Your mushrooms should be completely dry so they retain as much of the original magic as possible. Mushrooms are always best eaten when freshly picked, but if you are going to store them for future use, make sure that you keep your drying container in complete darkness. Also make sure that they are not bendable anymore. A completely dry mushroom will break easily if you try to bend it.
9. Now that your mushrooms are completely dry, store them in a ziplock bag with as much air removed as possible. You can do this with your mouth by sucking the air out of the bag. Don't do it too much because your mushrooms will break.
10. Place your ziplock bag in a dark place for safe storage. If dried, and stored correctly, mushrooms can sometimes keep their potency for years.
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