Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who's Shroomin' Who?

Man, it's been a busy kitchen chez Cookiecrumb this month. And I have a feeling it's not going to let up for a while. (Though I did just learn there's a knish shop not far from where I live. I said to Cranky, "Let's eat pick-up food for a while.")
So there I was standing over not one, but two steaming kettles. One held the turkey stock, and the other was a pot of vegetable broth, 100% local, made entirely from odds and ends that otherwise wouldn't have been eaten: celery tops, carrot tops, leek tops, like that. The broth tasted good but it needed the depth of a mushroom or two, and I had a paper bag of local mushrooms in the fridge.
Uh-oh. They were on the brink of stickiness, but still fragrant and plump, and perfectly fine for the stock.
I wasn't about to add the entire sack, but the rest of the mushrooms needed immediate attention.
All right. I turned on the oven as low as it would go (which, in the case of my fancy-fangled electric convection model, is 170°F) and laid the destemmed, cleaned mushrooms on a baking rack in a roasting pan.
It worked! They dried out instead of getting cooked. I started them cap-side up until the skin felt smooth and dry, and then I flipped them gill-side up so they'd really dehydrate. (It's essential to remove the stems, which are dense and watery.)
It took quite a few hours. I turned off the oven at bedtime and left them in there, and then by about midday the next day without any additional heat, they were totally dry (the goal is "brittle").
The smell is utterly deep and meaty.
I can't wait to rehydrate one and taste it!


Greg said...

shrums is good. I read the article about the knishes in San Rafael.Going to go check it out. Never having had one.

Kalyn said...

What a fun thing to do. I used to have one of those electric food dehydrators which I used to make dried tomatoes. (This was in the dark ages before you could really buy sun-dried tomatoes in Utah and WAY before you could buy them for nothing at Costco.) Never thought of drying mushrooms.

cookiecrumb said...

Greg: Didn't it look good in the photo? The inside of the shop looked like the real thing. I've had knishes in SF (used to be a place in my old nabe). I'll check it out for ya.

Kalyn: I hadn't thought of drying mushrooms either, until I attended a wild mushroom seminar a couple of weeks ago. The forager-in-chief said he did that with his excess hauls. Cool. So tell me: Did you love your dehydrator? Cuz I think Cranky wants to buy me one for Christmas, and I'd love your input.

Stacie said...

ok, it took me about two minutes to get over the title! LOVE puns, don't get me started! Food just lends itself to punniness, no? The dry shroom is so purdy! As always, your pics leave me running for the Doritos, need food!!

Dagny said...

Hmmm. I might have to give this a try. I am always buying mushrooms and then having to throw some out because I haven't used them quickly enough.

cookiecrumb said...

Stacie: You're my little music elf. I do it for you.
(Doritos! Yes. Future blog topic, what say?)

Dagny: Absolutely. It took me this long to figure out what to do with dying mushrooms, but now I've got a plan. And once they're thoroughly dried, you can store them in a jar in your cupboard.

dancingmorganmouse said...

I dry shrooms too but with no effort on my part at all. I buy a few handfulls, pop em in a paper bag and leave them a week or 2 at the bottom of the fridge (NOT the vegie crisper). They dry beautifully and keep all their lovely flavour.

kathyF said...

That's a great idea! I can't tell you how many times I've tossed mushrooms. And I buy dried porcinis all the time.

Now, what shall I do with all the money I save?

cookiecrumb said...

DMM: I've done that too, by accident. You need to have a paper bag and an un-moist atmosphere. And then, sometimes it doesn't work... But the smell of these oven-dried ones is intense!

KathyF: I'm thinkin' Mini Cooper.