How to Preserve Maitake Mushrooms
Kudos on growing or foraging for the truly magical maitake mushrooms! These are quite beautiful as their overlapping caps resemble a bird’s plumage. Moreover, its health benefits make them a great addition to any meal. Because of these, it’s no wonder you want to preserve these shrooms.
- Maitake mushrooms, also known as 'hen of the woods,' have numerous health benefits, including adaptogenic support, maintaining healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, weight management, immune health, and antioxidant properties.
- Maitake mushrooms can be preserved through methods such as dehydration, pickling, canning, or freezing. Dehydration involves using a dehydrator or air-drying. Pickling requires boiling the mushrooms with a mixture of vinegar, spices, and herbs. Canning preserves the mushrooms shelf-stable but may result in some nutrient loss. Freezing can be done raw or after sautéing the mushrooms in butter or oil.
- If preserving maitake mushrooms seems challenging, mushroom supplements or tinctures are alternative ways to incorporate their health benefits into your diet.
Maitake Mushroom Benefits
Before getting into preserving maitake mushrooms, a short introduction to them will help anyone curious stumbling on these lines.
Also known as ‘hen of the woods,’ the maitake mushroom is native to China, Japan, and North America. It can easily grow to over 100 lbs., which is why it’s crowned as the king of the mushrooms.
Traditional Chinese medicine mainly used it for calming nerves and improving stomach health. However, modern science has uncovered even more benefits to consuming it.
- Adaptogenic Support – Maitake is one of the few mushrooms that can increase the body’s ability to adapt to and recover from stress. This ensures the health of both your body and mind.
- Healthy Blood Sugar Levels – Diabetics may benefit from consuming this mushroom regularly. Animal studies show that the mushroom may improve insulin response and, ultimately, blood sugar levels.
- Healthy Cholesterol Levels – The mushroom has significant fiber content. This possibly explains its use for supporting metabolic health over the past 2000 years. By improving digestion, the mushroom may help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
- Weight Management – Maitake mushrooms act as prebiotics, enabling the growth of ‘good’ bacterial in the gut. Since they also contain fiber and positively impact digestion, they may help you manage your weight.
- Immune Health – The mushroom contains beta-glucans. These add immune-supporting properties to the maitake’s growing list of benefits. They also protect the body from pathogens while supporting cellular immunity.
- Antioxidant Properties – Maitake mushrooms support the body in its fight against inflammation and oxidation. Therefore, it reduces oxidative stress, which can damage body tissue and trigger the onset of aging.
How to Cut Maitake Mushrooms
You may be wondering how to cut these mushrooms prior to preserving them. Especially since they’re thin and feathery yet grow in big clusters.
Whatever you do, NEVER rip the mushrooms out of the ground. This will damage the mycelium and prevent future mushrooms from growing in the same area.
Instead, cut it at the base of the stem. Take as much time as you need and use tweezers when necessary.
If you plan to cut the mushroom before preserving it, you won’t need a knife to slice it. Simply use your hands to rip the mushrooms apart before you start working.
How to Clean Maitake Mushrooms
After cutting the maitake mushroom, it’s time to clean it. That way, you can remove most contaminants before preserving it. Here are some tried and tested tips to help you out:
- Place the mushroom in a large bowl and pick any leaves or twigs stuck to it.
- Use a paintbrush or kitchen-grade brush to remove any dirt. Work from top to bottom and use brisk strokes.
- Use a paring knife to remove the dirtiest part of the base and cut off rotten or bruised sections.
- Use the tip of your knife to clean out any worms or bugs hiding in the mushroom. Focus on the crevices as insects hide there.
- Clean any stubborn dirt patches with damp paper towels.
- Avoid washing with water since that makes the mushroom slimy and soggy. Besides, water won’t clean them as thoroughly as the rest of these tips.
Preserving Maitake Mushrooms
With your maitake mushrooms cut and cleaned, it’s time to preserve them. You can opt for any of the following methods for this purpose.
One of the easiest ways to preserve the majority of mushrooms is dehydration. You can cut the mushroom and use a dehydrator to dry it. Alternatively, if you live in a dry climate, you can air dry it. Just make sure to protect your batch from insects.
Dehydration will take 6-12 hours usually. You can check if your shrooms are ready by snapping a piece in half. Once ready, place the mushrooms in sealed containers and stow them away from the light.
Many people prefer pickled maitake mushroom. If you’re one of them, you’ll need:
- 8 cloves of garlic.
- 2 cups of vinegar.
- 6 teaspoons of salt.
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
- 1 teaspoon of coriander.
- 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds.
- 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns.
- A few sprigs of fresh dill.
And here’s what you need to do with these ingredients:
- Boil 4 cups of water. Reduce the heat and let the water simmer.
- Add garlic to the water and cook for five minutes.
- Pour the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Let the mixture boil to dissolve these ingredients, then turn off.
- Add the mushrooms and dill in several jars. Make sure to pack the shrooms as tight as possible.
- Pour in the brine and seal the jars.
This method will preserve your mushrooms for a few months. And you can begin eating them after 2-3 hours.
Another preservation method is canning. Using this method for preserving maitake mushrooms will preserve it shelf-stable. However, you may lose some of its nutrition. Moreover, you need to ensure your jar’s temperatures to prevent damaging your batch.
Freezing Maitake Mushrooms
Freezing is one of the popular methods for preserving these mushrooms. And you can carry this out using one of these two ways.
Freezing is another typical and easy way to preserve maitake mushrooms. Once you’ve cleaned the mushrooms thoroughly, you’ll need to carve out the woody center. Next, rinse the cap and let them dry. Finally, place the mushrooms in a vacuum seal bag and freeze them.
Sauté and Freeze
Another way to freeze the mushrooms entails sauteing them first. You can use two tablespoons of butter or oil for every cup of mushrooms. Just make sure to cut the mushroom according to how you’ll use it. For instance, you should cut it into small pieces if you’re going to use it for a sauce.
For this method, cook the mushrooms over medium heat until they release their liquid and fully absorb the oil/butter. Once the mushrooms have cooled down, place them into Ziplock bags.
Ready to Preserve Your First Batch of Maitake Mushrooms?
If that’s a ‘yes,’ we hear, off you go to get the necessary utensils and ingredients. And good luck with your first batch!
Still unsure? Don’t worry. You can enjoy all the benefits of maitake mushrooms the traditional way. Simply add mushroom supplements such as Genius Mushrooms or Triple Mushroom Complex to your daily diet. You can also get tinctures like Maitake Mushroom Supplement or Grifron Maitake D Fraction.
Just make sure to include maitake mushrooms in your diet to get all its health benefits. Who knows? You may be inspired to join others who said ‘yes’ earlier and make your own batch of preserved shrooms.
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