Drying Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi Mushrooms drying on a tray

Reishi mushrooms are an excellent find for the forager, but they can’t be used like other mushrooms. Reishi is a hard, woody fungus whose magic can be extracted through teas and tinctures.  Despite its woody texture, fresh reishi will quickly spoil so the most common way to preserve the fungus is to dry it. Doing this vastly increases its shelf life and gives you the ability to brew teas well into the future. But how do you dry your fresh foraged reishi at home? There are three general methods. Before you start, remember to rinse  your reishi in water, rubbing to loosen dirt and other debris, this can be done with a wet paper towel or washcloth. Be careful to not soak your reishi; this can degrade the mushroom and result in longer dry times. 

Drying Reishi Mushrooms In The Oven

You can dry your reishi in a regular household oven. Before you start, you’ll want to slice your mushroom to around a quarter inch thickness. If you have antler reishi, a cultivated form of reishi that is shaped like deer antlers, you can simply break up the mushrooms into pieces. Reishi grows slowly in the wild, so purchasing ethically grown reishi is encouraged. You can also grow your own! Once your reishi is sliced, arrange the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. You may need to dry them in batches depending on how many reishi you have. You want to use low heat; 150-170 fahrenheit (65c-75c), and cook the mushrooms for an hour. Pull the sheets out of the oven and flip the slices over, and then cook them for another hour. Then check the mushroom slices. They should be so dry that they snap when bent. If your reishi slices aren’t completely dry, return them to the oven for a half hour at a time until they’re completely dry. Allow the mushrooms to cool completely.

Reishi Mushrooms drying in an oven

Drying Reishi Mushrooms In A Dehydrator

You can also use a food dehydrator to dry your mushrooms. Countertop dehydrators use a combination of heat and airflow to dry foods, and have the benefit of not taking up space in the oven for several hours. Also, if your oven can’t be set for such low temperatures, a food dehydrator might be the way to go. Food dehydrators dry evenly and are preferred.  Again, you’ll want to clean your reishi and slice them into quarter inch slices. Arrange the slices on the trays of your dehydrator, leaving space between the slices. This allows for the airflow that will help dry your mushrooms. Set the dehydrator to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it run until the mushroom slices are completely dry. This can take 4-6 hours, and again, you’ll want to check to make sure they’re dry before you store them. Antler Reishi can be dried in 2-3 hours, which is another benefit to working with them! If they’re not dry after these estimates , continue to check on them every half hour until they are completely dry.

Drying Reishi Mushrooms In The Sun

If you live in a sunny, dry climate, you can dry your mushrooms in the sun. Prepare the reishi, rinsing  and slicing them into quarter inch slices, and then lay out in a sunny spot to dry. This can be done indoors, but airflow will help them dry quicker so if you have an outdoor space that will help. You can do this on a regular baking sheet, but a basket or woven mat will allow air to move underneath the mushroom pieces, helping them to dry more evenly. Be sure to not stack your reishi if you use a basket. If you’re using a baking sheet, you may want to turn the mushroom slices occasionally. Drying in the sun takes longer, up to a day or two. You’ll want to make sure that your mushrooms are protected from moisture, insects and other animals. If your climate is too humid, the mushrooms may spoil before they dry completely. Take this into consideration when choosing your drying method. Again, you want the mushroom slices to be crisp and completely dry. Then you can bring them inside to store them.

Dried Reishi Storage

Reishi mushroom Tincture

No matter how you decide to dry your mushrooms, you’ll need to store them correctly to make sure they last without spoilage. Moisture can cause even dried reishi mushrooms to rot or mold, so you’ll want to store them in an airtight container. You can even pop a desiccant into the container to keep them dry, like a silica gel pack. You’ll also want to make sure they’re stored in a cool, dark place, since sunlight can damage the mushrooms. Stored correctly, your dried reishi mushrooms can last for a year or more! That means a year plus of enjoying reishi tinctures, teas, or other extracts!