I am a huge fan of mushrooms of all varieties so when I stumbled across a Facebook page called Merryhill Mushrooms I just had to have a closer look. Going through their website was like a kid in a candy store, there was mushroom growing kits galore, mushroom salts and even mushroom jerky!!
The website looked very professional, the logo was eye catching, the prices were reasonable but… I had been stung before on mushroom kits, especially oyster mushrooms so I was a bit wary at how good it looked. Taking the plunge I waited for the Yellow Oyster Kit to arrive along with a couple of the salts as I absolutely love mushroom salt. When it arrived it was extremely well packaged and there was no chance of damage in transit or from direct sunlight.
First things first the salt, you can make this yourself but it takes a lot of electricity and a good couple of hours and considering Merryhills are charging less than £4 for ready made salt it’s probably more worthwhile just buying it from them. The salt itself is really well made with the balance of salt and dried mushrooms mixed perfectly, you can use the salt with everything you would normally use salt with but personally if you’ve never tried mushroom salt before, give your cheese on toast a tiny sprinkling of mushroom toast before you grill it and you will never look back.
Moving onto the growing kit, I was very impressed with the build of it and I was excited to read that I could expect to get a good few growings out of one kit because as previously mentioned I’ve been stung with duff growing kits before. If you have a good kit then growing mushrooms especially oysters is extremely easy.
I was very pleased with the simplicity and ease of understanding of the instructions on the side of the growing kit (there really is no need to complicate them, it is that easy). There were three holes ready cut and all I needed to do was give them a spray of water twice a day to make sure they stayed damp (just check occasionally in case you need to do it more but twice should be plenty), keep spraying as the mushrooms grow, cut when grown and keep spraying the holes again after the mushrooms have been cut.
The website says first crop in just a few days so I started the process and sure enough in 6 days I had my first crop of oyster mushrooms and I have to say they are some of the best looking oysters I’ve ever grown!! (You want to pick your mushrooms when there is a slight down turn left on the very edge of the mushroom, at this stage carefully cut the stem off as close to the tub as possible whilst supporting the mushrooms with the other hand. Continue watering the stem and you should get at least another 4-5 growths out of the stem)
I didn’t want to do anything too fancy with my first batch as I wanted it to be more about the flavour so I sautéed the oyster mushrooms after slicing them and then added two whisked eggs with a bit of salt and pepper and made myself an omelette – OMG it was delicious!!
Now as this kit produces several crops I thought I’d let you in on a superb way to keep your oyster mushrooms without wasting them. You can easily dehydrate your mushrooms and store them for up to a year in airtight jars.
If you have a dehydrator slice the mushrooms into 1/4 inch thick strips and arrange them in a single layer on the dehydrator trays making sure none of the slices touch. Set the dehydrator on 110° for 4-6 hours until the mushrooms are completely dry. Allow them to cool and then transfer to your airtight containers, label and date them.
If you don’t have a dehydrator (I definitely recommend getting one and the VonShef is superb) you can still dry your mushrooms using your oven but I find the results aren’t as good. To dry your mushrooms in the oven, cut your mushrooms into 1/4 inch slices as before and pre-heat your oven to 150°. Arrange your mushrooms on your baking tray again in a single layer and making sure that none of the slices are touching.
Bake the mushrooms for 1 hour then remove them from the oven, gently pat them down with paper towels to remove any moisture that has sweated out from the baking. Turn the mushroom slices over and return to the oven for another hour, the mushrooms should be dry at this stage but if they still feel damp to you then keep patting them down and then cooking for another hour until they are completely dry.
Allow the mushrooms to cool down and once again store them in an airtight container for up to a year.
Okay so you now have lots of dehydrated mushrooms in storage but how do you use them? Well firstly dried mushrooms tend to have a much stronger flavour so you won’t need to use as many of them. To use dehydrated mushrooms simply place the amount you want to use into a large heat proof dish, pour boiling water over them and allow them to soak for 20-30 minutes.
Once the mushrooms have soaked drain them off (it’s worth keeping the liquid as it is rich in flavour from the mushrooms and is perfect for using in soups or sauces) and use the rehydrated mushrooms exactly the same as you would use fresh mushrooms.
I hope you found this an interesting article and I would definitely recommend the salt and the growing kits from Merryhills.
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