Proper Rehydrating Allows a Chef to Properly Use Cost Effective Dried Ingredients.
Exercise 3: Rehydrating
Advanced Lessons > Advanced Garde Manger > Advanced Lettuce and Greens > Rehydrating
Exercise Checklist:
Recommended Pre-requisites
Basic Moist Heat Methods Basic Food Prep
Ingredients
  • 2 oz of Dried Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • 2 oz of Dried Morel Mushrooms
  • 2 oz of Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms
  • 2 oz of Dried Red Oak Mushrooms
Tools & Equipment
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Sauce Pan
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Measuring Cup
Estimated Time
40 Minutes
Yield
Rehydrated Chanterelle Mushrooms, Morel Mushrooms, Wood Ear Mushrooms, and Red Oak Mushrooms

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Exercise 3: Rehydrating

 

“Rehydrating” means to add back moisture that has been removed by Dehydrating. Typically, Dehydrating was used to remove the moisture from perishable foods so that they would be a less hospitable environment for Pathogens who would in turn spoil the food as they sought to consume it.

 Dehydrating has been a favorite preservation technique since the days of old. Without refrigeration and our industrial food systems, people had to rely on what they could produce themselves. If the food did not last they did not eat or sometimes survive.

Salting, and Dehydrating (drying) became two of the most common ways to stretch the shelf life of foodstuffs. Holding foods cold or frozen, which doesn’t negatively impact the taste like Salting does, has made salting functionally obsolete. Today it is relegated to Pickling (a salt brine) where the pickling enhances the underlying flavors (Corn Beef, Pickles) and to other salty specialty foods which have become an acquired taste such as Salt Cod.

Dehydrating foods as a preservation method has not been completely replaced by modern technology and is still a good, cost-effective option with some foods, notably Grains, Pasta, Beans, Legumes and Mushrooms.

Grains, if they are Rehydrated, are typically Rehydrated as they cook. Think of Boiling Rice. Pasta which Rehydrates quickly in Boiling water as it cooks, is a similar case and will be covered in its own section.

Beans, Legumes, Peas, etc. are typically soaked overnight to soften them, shorten their cook time, help them cook evenly and enhance their flavor. The process is very straight forward. Place the Beans, Legumes etc. in a container (a Sauce Pan or Mixing Bowl usually) and fill it with water to cover the beans. Cover the container and leave it sitting out on a counter overnight.

The Beans can also be enhanced with extra flavors during this phase. If you are flavoring by using a Stock as your Rehydrating Liquid or by adding a flavorful Raw Meat like Bacon to the liquid you should refrigerate your rehydrating Beans or Legumes. The Stock and/or Raw Meat pose a danger of Cross-Contamination, which can be easily avoided by keeping your Rehydrating beans refrigerated and out of The Food Danger Zone while they soak.

Mushrooms can be moved through the production and distribution process refrigerated but this is often an expensive option. Electricity and refrigeration cost money that has to be paid for in the form or higher prices. Additionally, not all mushrooms are available throughout the year. A more economical method of purchasing Mushrooms, especially those out of season, can be to buy them dried which is close to a 50% savings.

Humans were drying Mushrooms in Ancient Greece for the upper crust of society and we still do today because it is still a practical method which does not damage the taste or increase the costs. In fact, our modern mushroom industry has achieved economies of scale and superior drying methods making Mushrooms ever more affordable to a larger segment of the total population. Today, the major drawback keeping the average home cook from enjoying affordable Mushrooms is the knowledge of how to properly Rehydrate them. The process is simple but not obvious. Let’s join Teaching Chef in the Instructional Video and learn how to Rehydrate Mushrooms the right way.


During the introduction to the Instructional Video, Teaching Chef shows a shot of properly Rehydrated Mushrooms and then begins the process of Rehydrating his batch. He places his mix of dried Mushrooms (Chanterelle Mushrooms, Morel Mushrooms, Wood Ear Mushrooms, and Red Oak Mushrooms) in large Mixing Bowl. He pours enough Boiling water in the Mixing Bowl to safely fill it. Generally, the ratio of water to Mushrooms should be two to one, with twice as much water as there are Mushrooms.  But having a little extra liquid won’t hurt, especially if you are planning to Reserve your Rehydrating Liquid for other purposes like a Braising Liquid or a Reduction.

Once the boiling water is in with the Mushrooms, let the bowl sit for 30 minutes. If the Mushrooms are rubbery and hard they have not absorbed enough moisture. If the Mushrooms are mushy they may have gotten too much moisture.

Once the Mushrooms are Rehydrated, Teaching Chef removes them from the Mixing Bowl with a Slotted Spoon so that he can separate the Mushrooms from their Rehydrating Liquid. The Rehydrating Liquid will have picked up a significant amount of flavor from the earthy mushrooms that should not be wasted.

Rehydrating is a step that can be done 4-5 days ahead of time and the results refrigerated if you wish to use economical dried Mushrooms in a recipe. It is a very good idea to consider Rehydrated Mushrooms when you plan to use Mushrooms in a long, slow-cooking with a Moist Heat Method. The Rehydrated Mushrooms will stand up to the extended heat and keep their form better than fresh Mushrooms.

Once you know how to properly Rehydrate Mushrooms, you multiply your culinary options as Mushrooms can be kept on hand for as long as a year without going bad. If they don’t go bad, they can be kept on hand without increasing your waste factor or home food costs.