Fall is so amazing. Not only are the temperatures here in Pennsylvania finally cooling down, it’s also peak season for foraging for Maitake Hen of the Woods Mushrooms!
One of the most often asked questions I get about Hen of the Woods mushrooms is what is the best way to preserve them, especially when it’s a bountiful year for foraging – like this harvest we had a couple years ago where we pick over a hundred pounds in one weekend!
There isn’t truly one ‘best’ way to preserve hen of the woods mushrooms but today I’m sharing my 5 favorite ways that allow us a wide variety of usages through out the year.
- Freezing – Perhaps the easiest way to save Hen of the Woods mushrooms for later is Freezing. There are 3 ways we freeze them (1) cleaned/raw then cook from frozen (2) sautéed or boiled then frozen (3) Raw/Breaded then deep fried from frozen. Word of caution, if you loose power then obviously you’ll loose them too. Of all the ways you can freeze Hen of the Woods, we love them breaded. Click HERE for my recipe for Breaded Hen of the Woods Mushrooms. We arrange breaded (raw) mushroom on a cookie sheet and freeze, then transfer to a zip top plastic bag, they’ll keep for about 6 months. Simply drop frozen, breaded mushrooms into 350°F lard and fry until lightly brown, YUM!
- Pickling – For a fun side dish that you can keep in the refrigerator, we LOVE Pickled Maitake Hen of the Woods Mushrooms. They keep for over a year and taste amazing! The downfall is that they only can be enjoyed pickled and you gotta keep them in the fridge, so you need space and power!
- Dehydrating – Dehydrated Hen of the Woods mushrooms are great for using in soups, stews or to make a mushroom tea. They must be reconstituted in liquid and are shelf stable for years, but loose some texture, taste and nutrition. You’ll need to grab a dehydrator (I recommend THIS budget friendly dehydrator for beginners) then on low heat, dehydrate your cleaned hen of the woods mushrooms pieces until there’s no moisture left. Store them in a sealed jar in your pantry. You can also make Mushroom Jerky with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms!
- Canning – Canning mushrooms provides a shelf stable way to preserve Hen of the Woods mushrooms. With their meaty texture and robust flavor they hold up very well to canning but will loose some nutrition. Just be cautious that your jars don’t freeze or get too hot.. and of course don’t break! You’ll need to get a Pressure Canner then Click HERE to learn How to Can Hen of the Woods Mushrooms.
- Freeze Drying – When it comes to retaining the MOST nutrition, Freeze Drying is superior to all other ways of food preservation. And from a food storage stand point, they are shelf-stable for 25+ years… so while you’ll need to invest in a Freeze Dryer you won’t need a freezer, refrigerator or temperature regulation of the stored food, after they are packaged. Yes, we have one and recommend the investment, ours has paid for itself. Click HERE to learn why Freeze Drying is the Healthiest Way to Preserve Food.
What’s your favorite way to preserve Hen of the Woods Mushrooms?
Yours in Health,