Why You Should Always Have Dried Mushrooms On Hand

Even when you've pulled out all the stops, sometimes food simply falls flat. A little extra salt or additional spices may not fix the blandness of the food. In fact, the answer to your problem may not even be in your pantry. For food that has depth, always keep dried mushrooms stocked in your kitchen.

Packaged in inconspicuous plastic sacks and glass bottles, dried mushrooms are the key to elevating almost any dish you have. Despite being roughly 80% water, mushrooms still deliver a rich quality to food. When they're completely dried, the flavor becomes more potent, infusing dishes with umami flavor. The next time you see them at the grocery store or when shopping online, pick them up to enhance your soups, stews, pasta, stir-fries, and more. While they're pricier than fresh mushrooms, they can last for years if kept dry.

Using dried mushrooms is a simple three-step process: Soak the mushrooms in warm water for about half an hour until they expand. They tend to be gritty, so give them an extra rinse before cooking with them. From there, you can add them to umami vegetable stock, stir them along with garlic and shallots, or simmer them with your favorite soups and sauces.

Use dried mushrooms to enhance all kinds of recipes

Swap the fresh mushrooms for dried shiitake mushrooms in vegetable stir fry. If you're ever out of soy sauce or MSG, these mushrooms are an easy replacement for the popular enhancements. Earthy and rich, shiitake mushrooms deliver a savory hint to stir-fries. Sprinkle in the dried mushrooms and give them a good stir before adding in the other veggies.

To give warming spicy bean stew a touch of umami flavor, use dried porcini mushrooms. Robust and nutty, with a savory undertone that'll make you swear it's real meat, porcini mushrooms add great depth to bean stew. Stir them with the tomatoes and onions or let them simmer in the pot with the rest of the ingredients — either way, your stew will taste delightful.

Amp up the nuttiness of buttery hazelnut risotto with dried morel mushrooms. The woodsy fungi complement the hazelnut's own mild flavor, giving the risotto a deeper quality. Add the mushrooms to the stock or save the water you soaked them in to cook the risotto.