Beyond fresh: a story of dry food
We believe that dry food is an evolution of the fresh food, with better characteristics. Long before the dictatorship of fresh food, perishable products (fish or shellfish) and seasonal products (mushrooms) were subject to specific preservation techniques.
These techniques involved natural resources, traditions and technical advances: ash, salt, smoke, the sun, the wind, cooling, canning.
Drying is a very effective technique. It blocks the process of decomposition in a lasting manner. It is also the process that best preserves and restores products’ nutrients and taste, therefore enabling the preservation of particularly fragile or ephemeral species virtually impossible to find on market stalls — sea beans, porcini mushrooms, coconut.
Our products’ special texture, concentration of flavour and adaptability make each a unique culinary experience.
We were already confronted with the growing difficulty of sourcing fresh, good-quality wild mushrooms while running Café des Spores in Brussels.
This difficulty appears mainly to be related to sites’ depletion caused by a combination of pollution, overexploitation and the mismanagement of forest areas. Picking in more remote areas results in the lengthening of time between harvest and sale, with increased transportation costs adding to energy debt.
The uncertain level of wild mushrooms’ quality, their constant increase in price, their probable cost to the environment and issues of traceability therefore urged us to seek new resources.
Less is better
It takes between 12 and 20 kilos of fresh mushrooms to make 1 kilo of dried mushrooms (with an average of 15 to 18), thus substantially reducing energy costs associated with their transportation.
When dried under good conditions directly in the hours after picking, they retain their aromatic and nutritious potential and won’t deteriorate during transportation. Mushrooms are between 80 and 95% water, which dilutes both their flavour and nutritional potential; by eliminating water, their taste and nutritional value becomes incredibly (and wonderfully) concentrated.