Dried mushrooms are fashionable. They are packed with umami, and don't contain any artificial crap. By drying them, mushrooms are concentrated with nutrients and all the good stuff. Mark Bittman wrote about the greatness of dried mushrooms. Pre-packed dried shiitake are found easily at Asian grocery stores, but majority of them are made in China. After seeing all the crazy pollution there, it's sort of disgusting to think these are sun dried in China, under such heavy smog (this probably isn't true since majority of companies use drying machines, rather than sun for this process).
I was shopping in Chinatown one day and came across these huge packages of shiitake, for $3.99 a pound. If you buy shiitake at any market, it's usually $11.99 a pound, so this was a huge bargain, and I bought three giant packs, for a total of 4.5 pounds.
What you need are mushrooms and sun. How simple is that?
I first placed them in these blue drying mesh, but it's still too cold for any bugs so I simply placed the shiitake on table.
Day #2: This was after drying for two days.
They are definitely shrinking, but still soft to the touch.
Close-up of mushrooms.
They are dry outside, but still moist inside.
It was rainy for two days, so I simply placed the mushrooms near the window during this time. If it had been sunny everyday or if it were a bit warmer, it may have dried quicker.
Day #5, the final product:
Dried shiitake mushrooms, made in New York City, no preservatives added!
This is so easy. If you have access to a large amount of mushrooms for cheap, this is something you may want to try. I will definitely use for chikuzen-ni (similar to the nimono Yoko made a few months ago) and make sweet/soy shiitake, to be used in futomaki.