Things You'll Need
- Baking tray
- Baking parchment
- Wild mushrooms
- Conventional oven
If wild mushrooms are picked on a wet day, they will take longer to dry. A convection oven can be used with the heat on, if set under 100 degrees, although it dries them within 10 minutes.
If the heat of a conventional oven is left on, it could easily cook the mushrooms instead of drying them. If picking wild mushrooms yourself, be certain that you can identify edible mushrooms. Several varieties look very similar to poisonous ones.
Wild, edible mushrooms are rich in flavors. The most commonly used edible wild mushrooms are chanterelle, oyster mushrooms, hen-of-the-woods, morels, boletes and puffballs. Cooks often use whole or sliced dried mushrooms to decorate a plate, especially with salads or dishes that are mainly pate or chopped. Although there are a number of ways to preserve wild mushrooms for eating, including soaking in brine and freezing, drying is the best method to preserve mushrooms for decoration.
Place a sheet of newspaper in a baking tray and cover with a clean sheet of baking parchment. To ensure even drying, larger wild mushrooms should be sliced into strips. Spread mushrooms over parchment, making sure that none overlap.
Place baking tray somewhere where there is a steady flow of warm air. Leave for at least one day to begin to dry.
Turn conventional oven to 350 degrees and let it heat for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off. Open oven door slightly until it stays open a couple inches. Let the oven cool off for five minutes.
Place the baking tray of partly dried mushrooms in the oven, leaving the door cracked open. In an hour, remove the mushrooms from the oven and let stand. While still warm, mushroom slices should bend slightly without breaking.
When the mushrooms are cooled, test them. Mushrooms are fully dried when hard to the touch, like crackers, with no spongy feel at all.
Brian Burhoe has been writing professionally since 1971. His stories have appeared in "World of If Magazine," "Fantastic Stories" and "Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year." He cooks in Atlantic Coast restaurants and he is a graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course and holds a Canadian Culinary Federation chef's certificate.