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Mushroom Jerky: A Vegan Alternative to Beef Jerky

05 March, 2021
dried mushrooms ©iStock

Photo: ©iStock

 To us, having a delicious and healthy snack that stores well for long periods seems like a pretty good reason (or is that three reasons?) to learn how to make mushroom jerky. And it isn’t just easy to make either, but also fun to experiment with.

Here we’ll walk you through the foundations of mushroom jerky so you can start playing around with your own flavour combinations and seeing which ones you like best. You’ll soon stumble upon your own “secret” recipe for handing down through the generations.

How to Make Mushroom Jerky

marinating mushrooms ©iStock

As mentioned at the top of the article, mushroom jerky is essentially just mushrooms that are marinated and then dehydrated. You can use pretty much any type of mushroom, but you’ll naturally want to use a marinade that complements the unique flavour of whichever fungi you go for.

That said, you can’t go too wrong by combining the following basic marinade ingredients:

  • Soy sauce and/or Worcester sauce for emphasising the natural umami of the dried mushrooms.
  • Maple syrup for the required sweetness. This is pretty much essential, but you can also try similar syrups.
  • Vinegar to add sharpness for balance. Choose something relatively sweet and not overpowering, like cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
  • Liquid smoke for that crucial smokey flavour, without which it’s barely jerky.

Specific types of mushrooms can also come with their own benefits too. Portobello mushrooms, for instance, are already a popular plant-based burger substitute due to their size and shape, and the same characteristics make them especially good for mushroom jerky. At least if you desire long streaks of jerky – the type particularly well suited to packing for hikes and long cycling adventures  –  as opposed to small, flaky pieces best served as finger food.

Whichever of those situations you need mushroom jerky for, The Healthy has two excellent mushroom jerky recipes for you to get started with here, namely portobello jerky and super umami-rich shiitake jerky.

Note that both recipes use a dehydrator, which is generally the most hygienic way to dry foods. However, they’re not exactly the most common kitchen appliance. If you don’t have one, you can also spread them out on a baking tray and dry them in the oven on a low heat, making sure to turn them and generally keep an eye on them regularly.

It’s also possible to air-dry your mushroom jerky by leaving them in the sun. However, even though this isn’t as risky as air-drying meat jerky due to the comparatively low risk of bacterial contamination, you should still exercise caution doing so.

Tips for the Correct Way to Cook Mushrooms

cooking mushrooms ©iStock

Are you diving head first into the wonderful world of mycology? Learning to get the best out of mushrooms is an essential part of any self-respecting chef’s repertoire, but also a fascinating subject in itself.

We can help you get started. Click here to discover 15 different mushrooms and how to cook them – from everyday button mushrooms to morels, maitake, and all sorts of fungi that look absolutely out of this world. Oh, and you may also be interested to learn that the common wisdom is now officially wrong – boiling mushrooms isn’t just OK, it may even be the best way to cook them.

hominy corn ©iStock

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