One very important part of Thrifty Living is to make sure no food is wasted.
But what happens when you get a great deal on something like mushrooms? If you're like me, you really can't eat two or more pounds of mushrooms before they start going bad.
So how do you preserve mushrooms?
Canning them is one option, but I have two other (and I think tastier) ways to keep them ready to use for months into the future!
1. Dry them.
Yes, I said to dry them. Even if you don't have a dehydrator (a very good investment,) you can still dehydrate foods in your oven.
The first step is to slice them as thin as you can. I find that a serrated knife works best for clean slices - I use a steak knife.
Dehydrate them at about 90° for an hour, then increase the temperature on your dehydrator to 125° for another four to six hours, depending on how humid your kitchen is the day you dry them.
If you're using your oven, it's a bit more difficult to maintain the low temperatures you need. Let your mushrooms dry at room temperature for a couple hours. Meanwhile, turn your oven on to heat to it's lowest setting (usually 150° to 170°), then leave the door ajar to let the heat escape until it cools to about 125°. Put your tray of mushrooms in the oven and close the door. Check on them after an hour or so. If your oven has cooled too far, take the mushrooms out and let it heat up again.
Your mushrooms are dry enough when they aren't pliable any longer and you don't feel any moisture.
Tip: they feel a lot like freeze-dried marshmallows!
Store them in a cool dark place in a jar with a tight lid. They will keep this way for four to six months.
When you want to add them to a dish, you can reconstitute them by soaking them in water or broth for 10-15 minutes. Or if you're making soup or stew, just throw them in with the other veggies.
2. Make mushroom soup cubes
This is my favorite way to use mushrooms. These cubes last for a year or more in your freezer - unless you use them as often as I do!
Here are the ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 Tablespoons minced onion
2 teaspoons lemon juice (fresh or from the bottle)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
First, chop the mushrooms finely. Some times I use my food processor, but if I'm not careful, the machine will liquify them!
Instead, I usually use a sharp knife and my cutting board.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Cook and stir over medium heat for about five to seven minutes, or until the mushrooms are fragrant.
Remove the bay leaf, then put the mixture into an ice cube tray.
Cover the tray with plastic wrap and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container.
I use these whenever I make soup. I just drop one or two into the soup pot to provide some yummy, savory seasoning.
Or, you can add one to a white sauce to make cream of mushroom soup.
The best reason to add mushrooms to your meals is for the flavor they add. But they are also good sources of potassium and niacin. As I like to say, "nutritious and delicious!"
Do you like mushrooms? Which of these methods do you think you will try first?