Resist the first impulse of throwing away mushroom stems when you make those delicious stuffed mushrooms. They’re also edible and quite good additions in many dishes, whether you use them right away or later on.
I must admit I end up throwing foods more often than I'd want. And without considering the consequences. There are many poor people not having what to eat, and I'm throwing all kind of foods from mushroom stems, browned vegetables, and overripe bananas to cheese or chicken leftovers without thinking what I can do with them to reduce all this waste. I’m not even thinking that I could save money by not throwing these foods.
So, these days I set myself up to rethink the way I deal with leftovers. I'm starting small - because I'm cooking with mushrooms pretty often, I wanted to see how to use them as a whole, meaning mushrooms plus stems. Of course, some stems are too woody to be eaten and have little or no flavor, so there's no point for keeping them. But, fortunately, we usually use mushrooms like portobello, crimini, chanterelle, porcini, or white button mushrooms, that have edible and (delicious) stems.
How to use mushroom stems in the kitchen
If you’re making stuffed mushrooms, normally you remove the mushroom stems and throw them away, right? But that’s a pity because they’re usually good to cook with. Still, this doesn’t work for any type of mushrooms. You can use white button mushroom stems, crimini, portobello, but Shiitake may be too fibrous to eat.
Use mushroom stems in creamy soups. Follow the recipe but replace the mushrooms caps with stems. It’s the same thing because the stems also have an intense flavor. Plus because you're blending the stems, it makes no difference when talking about looks.
2. Broth or stock
Broths or stocks are always good to have in your freezer. So, next time you use portobello mushrooms, save their stems and use them along with your usual vegetables, meat, and bones for making broth or stock. The stems add a rich color and umami flavors to the liquid.
3. In omelets
Resist the temptation of using only the beautiful caps of the mushrooms when making an omelet. Instead of throwing the stems, use the whole mushroom, tip to end. Slice the stems thinly and add them to your omelets. Also, you can use them in frittatas or quiches.
4. For fillings
Even some of the well-known chefs use minced portobello and button mushroom stems for making fillings or stuffing. You can cook chopped mushroom stems along with onion, garlic, spinach or cooked rice to make stuffings for meats or vegetables. You can also use them in meatballs or vegan cabbage rolls.
5. Dehydrating them
Anytime you have some leftover mushroom stems and you wonder what to do with them since you’re not going to cook another mushroom dish in the next days, dehydrating them could be a good option. This goes for chanterelle, porcini, portobello or Shiitake.
If the mushroom stems you’re going to use are large, slice them lengthwise. The thicker the slices, the longer they take to dry, so consider this when you are slicing. Neatly arrange them on your dehydrator and dry overnight at 125 degrees F/50 degrees C or until dry and fairly crisp.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, dry the mushroom stems in the oven. Unlike when using the dehydrator, when you use the oven you have to make sure the mushrooms aren’t wet. Otherwise, they will steam instead of dehydrating. Remove all of the water before putting them in the oven by rolling them in a clean dishtowel and then squeezing them gently. Place them on a baking sheet, preheat the oven to 150 F/65 C, and leave in the oven for 1 hour. Turn the mushroom slices over and return to the oven for another hour.
Whatever dehydrating process you choose, allow the dried mushrooms to cool completely before transferring them to glass jars. They can be stored for at least a year away from direct light or heat. When rehydrated in hot water, their texture is almost identical to that of fresh mushrooms. Soak them for 20 to 30 minutes. You can use the flavored soaking liquid for soups and sauces. Use the rehydrated mushrooms as you would use the fresh ones.
Read on to discover which are The Most Common Mushroom Types and Their Best Uses in the Kitchen.