When are shiitake mushrooms ready to harvest? Learn it here, in addition to how to dry shiitake mushrooms so that you can keep your harvest for longer
When are shiitake mushrooms ready to harvest? How about how to dry shiitake mushrooms so you can keep them longer dried than they would last fresh? Today we are continuing our series on shiitake mushroom growing. You can see part one here, which discusses the method for preparing shiitake mushroom bags to grow them indoors. The second part of the series goes through the process of inoculation. Below in this third and final part of the series we discuss the process of harvesting shiitakes as well as a simple method for drying the shiitakes once you have harvested.
When are shiitake mushrooms ready to harvest? Here are some pointers
When are shiitake mushrooms ready? Shiitakes should be harvested while the cap is still slightly curled in or just as the partial veil breaks away. When temperatures are high, mushrooms grow very fast, and in the course of 24 hours can pass their prime. If temperatures are around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, one harvest per day is sufficient. Mushrooms that are harvested before the cap margin becomes flat or flipped up have a better texture and store much better. When harvesting, cutting with scissors or a knife is the best to ensure sawdust is not on the stem base, which could then later get into the gills of the mushrooms in a bulk bin. Harvesting flush with the block also reduces possible contamination for future flushes. After harvesting, mushrooms should be immediately cooled and kept at around 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to dry shiitake mushrooms
It is good to know how to dry shiitake mushrooms to keep them longer. Drying shiitake mushrooms allows them to be stored and usable for a longer period of time than having to use them when fresh. For instance, if you grow mushrooms during the fall and end up with a big yield, or you find a big flush while foraging during the same time of year, you can dry these mushrooms to have delicious food to eat all winter long.
Drying mushrooms is a great option when you have an abundance of them. The drying process can be as simple as laying the mushrooms out in the sun to dry, or putting them in a dehydrator overnight at around 115 – 120°F. They will be properly dried once they become slightly crispy like a chip. Sun-drying shiitakes has a benefit that we mention below. It is a good idea to dry any of the mushrooms you grow at home if you plan on keeping them for longer periods of time, especially since the shelf life of fresh mushrooms is typically no more than 10 days.
Also, some mushrooms that can only be wild harvested benefit from the drying process. Take the black trumpet mushroom. This mushroom is very aromatic while drying, and it has a very complex scent, combining a rich smoky flavor with a pleasant fruity aroma. These mushrooms can be found abundantly in the Northeast U.S. and can be foraged in the summertime and dried to be enjoyed during the winter.
Dried mushroom benefits and your health
There are two more important dried mushroom benefits I want to touch on today.
First, there is the mushroom’s vitamin D content. Mushrooms content a constituent in their cell walls known as ergosterol. This compound, when exposed to sunlight, is transformed into vitamin D. If we are eating dried mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight during the winter, we can be getting a lot of vitamin D this way. The mushrooms can be exposed to sunlight at any point to enrich the vitamin D content, including while the mushroom is in the process of drying or after it has already been dried. So either way you do it — before or after the drying process — you can still get the added benefits of vitamin D.
Even if you buy dried mushrooms at the grocery store, you can put the mushrooms in sunlight for six to eight hours before consuming them and they will experience the heightened levels of vitamin D. High levels of vitamin D is a great reason to eat more dried mushrooms, especially in the winter when people often spend less time outside in the sunshine.
Second, there is the protein content in dried mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms have about 10% protein by dried weight. This is similar to many other vegetarian options that are considered higher-protein foods, like beans. Eating a lot of dried mushrooms will help you get more protein into your diet, especially if you do not eat a lot of meat.
Benefits in eating shiitake mushroomsShiitake mushrooms are very healthy. These mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D, especially after you expose them to the sun. According to NutrionalValue.org, 100 grams of raw shiitakes has the following nutritional benefits (DV is the abbreviation for the suggested daily value intake):
- 24% DV of Niacin
- 15% DV of Pantothenic acid
- 15% DV of Vitamin B6
- 13% DV of Riboflavin
- 13% DV of Threonine
- 12% DV of Manganese, Mn
- 11% DV of Phosphorus, P
- 10% DV of Fiber