Saturday, September 8, 2018

The "Original" Mushroom Jerky-Hen of the Woods Mushroom Jerky

Many years ago, we were inundated with several large maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa), and I actually mean dozens of them. We were somewhat forced to come up with ways to use the bounty beyond the traditional preservation tactics of dehydration and freezing, so we worked on developing a jerky made from the larger fronds. Our original recipe was published here in 2013, then copied, adapted, re-copied, changed, and inspired many other recipes by other bloggers and mushroom hunters for mushroom jerky made with different varieties of mushrooms like honeys, oysters, and king oysters. Here is our original recipe that we still use every year, and will start using very soon this coming autumn season as the maitake start to fruit.

Hen of the Woods Jerky        Makes about 2 cups marinade, enough for a large hen

For the marinade:
1 c. sweet apple cider
3/4 c. low sodium soy sauce, or tamari
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
5 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2-1 Tbsp. Sriracha chili-garlic sauce

1. Place all marinade ingredients in a blender, and puree for a minute. Pour the marinade in a glass or non-reactive shallow pan, preferably one with a cover.
2. Clean the hen of the woods mushroom, making 1/8" thick slices of the core and the larger fronds. All parts can be used, but they will dehydrate at different rates and shrink up quite small.
3. Boil the mushroom for 10 minutes, and drain completely. Place the boiled hen pieces in the marinade while still hot, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
4. Remove the pieces of hen from the marinade and drain the excess liquid off before arranging on  dehydrator trays. If drying in the oven, use wire racks placed on a sheet pan. Arrange the marinated mushroom on the trays and dehydrate at 120-130°F for 6-12 hours, until dried and leathery. The time will vary based on the thickness and sizes of the pieces, so check it often.
5. Store in an airtight jar or vacuum pack.

We often have more mushroom pieces than the dehydrator can handle at once, so we use the marinade one more time to flavor another batches, the second batch getting soaked a bit longer, until we use up all the hen. Check out these photos to see how much a very thick frond will shrink up, the top picture is raw, then the center picture is after boiling, and the third picture is after marination and dehydration.

Hen jerky, all snugly vacuum packed in quart jars for the winter months
Too many hens on my dining table!

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