Sunday, July 2, 2017

Roasting Reishi Like Coffee - Bitter is the Next Umami

I'm pretty new to the world of foraging and was crazy excited when I found reishi on a walk with my friend Nick. The brilliant color on a tall, dead pine was a beacon from across the woods. The lacquered beauty of this fungus is really something to behold. You'll understand if you ever come upon one.

So, what's up with this mushroom? This fungi is not typically for eating. Pretty tough and bitter. From the little I've read, it's used in Asian medicine for detoxification and boosting immune response. I'd love to know more, so please reach out to share knowledge and resources on the subject. 

Based on a multitude of suggestions from friends on Instagram, dehydration to create a powder for extraction is the first step. Many of these cool cats also pushed sweet applications that sounded delicious. As the slices of reishi were drying, I noted a malty scent on top of the earthy mushroom that sealed the deal. 

One suggestion that really spoke to me was Jeremy's suggestion to roast the mushroom after dehydrating it. Hmm... YES! Roasting is a wonderful way to transform a nice flavor into something seriously complex and downright brilliant. So how do we get there without too much fuss? The answer is a hot air popcorn popper. 

For beginner coffee roasters just getting into the game, there's a method of using a hot air popcorn popper to make small batches. It's quite simple and has the best even heating for the price. Having done this for years, I figured cut up chunks of reishi would work just as well. 

And so it did. The picture above shows the first trial run and the browning consistency is pretty good. Just a matter of dialing it in. The aroma during the roast was killer. I can't wait to get the rest done for infusing. It just so happens I have a mildly smoked dulce de leche hanging around. 

As always, please share your discoveries to keep the ideas bouncing.

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