A few weeks ago, I took an inspiring class on medicinal mushrooms with Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk and Honey Herbs. Jade is a wonderful herbalist and proponent of kitchen medicine, which focuses on cultivating health through cooking and eating nutritious foods.
In the class, she mentioned that mushroom broths were one of her favorite ways to get mushroom-hesitant people to get the health benefit from mushrooms. I’ve been making vegetable broth in my Instant Pot for years, but I had never thrown any mushrooms into the mix. Jade inspired me to bust out my store of dried oyster mushrooms and give the broth a whirl!
For those who aren’t familiar, oyster mushrooms are an abundant wild mushroom whose sturdiness and bounty makes them a great candidate for drying. You can also find them in most grocery stores, either dried or fresh, which is great if you just want to get started eating wild mushrooms.
As a side note, living in rural New Hampshire, I tend to get very excited when delicacies such as whole fennel bulbs pop up at the grocery store. I have to snatch them up before the produce department returns to its former grey and beige state! This inevitably leads to a fridge full of once-glorious produce that I have ‘rescued’ from the store.
As I was working on this mushroom broth, I could no longer evade the glances of the formerly-glorious fennel bulb fading away in my fridge so I decided to throw it into the pot in place of celery. If you haven’t made broth with fennel before, its mild licorice flavor tends to dissipate during cooking, leaving a pleasant sweetness behind. To balance out the sweetness of the fennel I added some thyme to bring out the earthiness of the oyster mushrooms. And thus the mushroom broth was complete!
This broth is a delightful umami-packed broth that is a great base for soups, rice, and more! For those who are hesitant about mushrooms, it has a well-rounded flavor with more of an ambiguous umami flavor, than a strong mushroomy flavor. My favorite ways to use it are in place of water when making rice, per Jade's recommendation, or as the base for a simple veggie and noodle soup for lunch.
I hope this helps you incorporate more mushrooms into your diet!
This broth can be made in the Instant Pot or on the stove-top, there are instructions for both below. Fennel pairs nicely with the oyster mushrooms, but you can’t find or don’t like fennel, you can swap it out for two stalks of celery, cut into rough chunks.
The broth will last in the fridge for about 5 days, or for a few months in the freezer. Feel free to substitute any other dried edible mushrooms such as shiitakes or maitakes. The strained out vegetables are a great addition to compost.
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