Maitake, or hen of the woods, is one of my most favorite mushrooms. It grows in autumn on the base of oak trees and can fruit quite generously around a single tree. One year, I found upwards of 30 pounds at the stump of a long departed white oak along a shady river! With this sort of quantity, it’s nice to have a tried-and-true method of preserving all that abundance. This jerky is moist and sweet and savory, honestly the perfect trail snack or charcuterie accompaniment. In addition to foraging maitakes, they are often cultivated and can be found at the supermarket or farmer’s market. I’ve even gotten grow-kits from small scale mushroom producers to have something to cultivate in the dead of winter.
Maitake Mushroom Jerky
For the marinade:
1 cup apple cider
3/4 cup tamari, I used this black garlic shoyu
4 TBSP. Mushroom Maple syrup
2-4 cloves garlic
ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 TBSP The Deep black garlic, date, chestnut concentrate (optional)
Add marinade ingredients to a blender and mix until it comes together in a smooth emulsion. Clean the mushrooms by gently rinsing, ensuring there is no duff or dirt left behind. Break the outer fronds into strips about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick. They should pull apart rather easily and always remind me of string cheese at this stage. Cut the core into slices. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, submerging the mushroom strips for about 10 minutes. Drain, cool, and squeeze the excess water from the mushrooms. Combine mushrooms and marinade in a glass container, submerging the mushrooms fully in the mixture. Marinade overnight. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and spread evenly on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate on medium low for 4-6 hours until dry and leathery. I always store mine with a silica packet.