Mushrooms are like meat for vegetarians, thanks to their chewy texture and earthy tones. Mushrooms can give any dish a unique flavour that is instantly recognisable but not overpowering, and their texture makes for a delightful pairing with softer foods, like cheese or soup.
Mushrooms are also at home in salads, with their texture standing in contrast to crispy leaves of lettuce or crunchy croutons.
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Mushrooms like portobellos, porcinis and shiitake usually look plump and moist when you first buy them at the market or pick them from your garden. If you leave them out for a while, though, they become dry and shrivelled up. They don’t look very appealing or like something you would want to eat, so what do you do with them?
You can still eat dried mushrooms, and they work great in soups, salads, or sandwiches or on pizza, but what if you prefer your mushrooms to look fresh and full?
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You do not have to toss them out just because the mushrooms are looking pathetic. You can reconstitute them through a fairly simple process. How to reconstitute dried mushrooms? I will show you how to do it, and it’s so easy you’ll wonder why you never did it before.
The Reconstituting Process
All you have to do is place your mushrooms in water for a little while. Just put them in a bowl and cover them with warm water ideally. Wine works as well, if you want some extra flavour.
How long to reconstitute dried mushrooms for? It should only take about 15-20 minutes. If you did not put enough water in the bowl or give the mushrooms enough space, then it could take longer, and you may have to transfer the mushrooms to another bowl to allow them to fill out completely. They should expand to about 4-6 times their dried size, so give them plenty of room.
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How long to reconstitute mushrooms in cold water? It may take longer, so you are looking at anywhere from 30-40 minutes. You can use cold water for certain kinds of delicate mushrooms so that they do not lose any flavour. Using cold water on the wrong kinds of mushrooms is simply going to take longer than most people like, so it’s not necessary.
If you want to speed up the process, you can use hot water, but that’s not advisable. The hot water can take off some of the flavouring and make the mushrooms taste bland. There is no way to get that flavour back if you do that, so we don’t advise it. However, if you are in a rush and you want to use the hot water method, you can get you can have your mushrooms rehydrated and reconstituted in a matter of 10-15 minutes.
How long the process takes depends on the mushrooms, how large they are, and how much space you give them. It’s a good idea to research the differences in each mushroom before you try reconstituting them. Some of them require different temperatures than others.
Save Your Liquid
When you take the mushrooms out of the water, they will look so plump and juicy and ready to eat. You can keep them preserved for a while and avoid the need for reconstituting them too soon by putting them in a container in the fridge. They will retain water fairly well there.
However, you don’t want to toss out the water that you soaked them in. That water is packed with savoury mushroom flavour that should not go to waste. So, what do you do with the leftover water from your soaked mushrooms? You can use it to flavour soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes that call for vegetable stock. Feel free to add some flavour to the mushroom water for your stock, but it will already have some vibrant flavour from all those mushrooms that were soaking in it.
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How Hot Is Too Hot?
It’s often a bad idea to use boiling or very hot water to soak your mushrooms, as we said earlier on. That’s because the hot water sears the exterior off the mushrooms, scalding them and getting rid of a lot of their flavour. You can be left with unsavoury mushrooms that don’t have much flavour to them, and all you get then is the texture they offer.
So how long to reconstitute dried mushrooms in very hot water? Well, you only need about 15 minutes or less, and any longer than that can result in overly soaked mushrooms that aren’t very pleasant to eat.
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But how hot does that water need to be to classify as too hot? That’s important if you want to avoid damaging your mushrooms and sapping them of flavour. Our recommendation is to keep the water somewhere below boiling. If you can put your hand into the water and it feels warm but not hot, you are on the right track. If the water is so hot that it hurts you, then it is too hot for the mushrooms.
Try to get it as warm as you might make your bath water for an ideal temperature. Just like a bath can refresh you, it can do the same for your mushrooms.
If you were wondering how to quickly reconstitute dried mushrooms, then hot water is the way to do it, but try to avoid this method if possible.
How to Reconstitute Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are a special case when it comes to reconstituting mushrooms. They are very delicate, and using hot water on them is inadvisable. It just completely drains them of flavour, and you do not want that to happen.
You can use cold water with them instead, going through the same process as what we outlined up above. The only difference is that the cold water will take longer to reconstitute them to their original form, so give them 30 minutes or so to fully rehydrate.
How to reconstitute dried shitake mushrooms? Just give them enough time to fully rehydrate. Once they look like they did originally, they are done, but be sure to save that water for broth and stock later on.
How Long Do Mushrooms Stay Fresh?
Mushrooms are hardy vegetables (technically fungi and not plants, though). They can last for days in the fridge, chopped, or cooked, and they last longer than most veggies.
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If you take the mushrooms from the store to your fridge, they will keep there for about 10 days. Once you slice them, they will keep in the fridge for about seven days. If you cooked them and did not eat them all at once, you can keep the leftovers in the fridge for anywhere from 7-10 days.
They may dry out in that time, but that’s no big deal, since now you know how to reconstitute dried mushrooms. That rehydration increases their shelf life and makes them succulent and fresh-looking for longer.