I have ventured to the forest a few times since my last post and I have noticed this year’s season has produced a great crop of wild mushrooms in our South Australian forests. The decent rain in April and warmer temperatures all throughout Autumn have certainly helped the supply, although the mushroom season did start a little later than usual. Now at the end of June, I’m still finding some Saffron Milk Caps at Mt Crawford and Kuipto Forest. I was also so ecstatic when we found our first Slippery Jack growing in our garden last week! A Polish dream come true!
With so many mushrooms about this season I thought it may be useful to share with you some of my recipes to preserve them so you can enjoy their deliciousness throughout the year. I have included two of my family pickling and drying methods that I tried recently.
The best way to enjoy foraged wild mushrooms is to consume them immediately. Sometimes we don’t even make it home, cooking them up in a pan with butter over a camp fire. Delicious! If you want to add a bit more zing to your pan-fried mushrooms the following is my go to recipe for a great balance of flavours.
Rustic fried mushrooms
What you will need:
- Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms, stems cut and sliced or keep whole (see my last post on tips to identify them correctly)
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- 3-4 garlic sliced cloves
- A small handful of finely sliced flat leaf parsley or dill
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- A generous sprinkle of pepper
- Salt to season
- Saute the mushrooms in the butter.
- Add the garlic and continue to saute for 2 min
- When the mushrooms have softened take off the heat and add the herbs, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with a slice of rye or sourdough bread. Enjoy!
If you have foraged more mushrooms than you can eat in the next day or two it is best to preserve them. The two common methods my Polish grandparents would use were to pickle them or dry them. Pickling suits the Saffron Milk Caps the most as they are quite mild in flavour and combined with a few spices and vinegar they make a great accompaniment to a plate of smalls goods or part of your antipasto. You can dry most mushrooms and they keep for years if you keep them stored well.
This is a simple pickling recipe that can easily be adjusted by adding different ingredients. You can add garlic, oil, herbs and spices to your liking. Pimento/ Allspice is popular in this recipe but I did not have any on hand when pickling this batch. This recipe below compliments the Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms but you can pickle other edible mushrooms.
What you will need:
- 1kg Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms
- 1 litre of water
- 500ml white vinegar
- 50g salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- Remove stuck pine needles from the caps and clean your saffron Milk Caps by soaking in some water for about 30 min. This will help eliminate any bugs that may be contained within the mushroom.
- Cut off the stems and check the hollow cavity for bugs. If you see any, rinse again before use. Slice the mushrooms to about 1/2 cm in thickness.
- Place in a pot with the water and bring to the boil for 10-15 min. Drain and cover.
- Bring the vinegar, salt, pepper, onion and bay leaves to the boil for 5 minutes. Completely cool.
- Divide your mushrooms in clean glass jars. You can pickle in one large jar or several smaller ones.
- Pour your cooled vinegar mixture over the mushrooms right to the top. Seal the lids tight.
The following method is important to sterilise your pickled mushrooms. There are many ways to sterilise your jars, either before you add your pickled mushrooms or after. My grandmother uses the following method and I enjoyed giving it a go!
- Line a pot with a cotton cloth. Place a few jars on top but be sure not to cramp them too close together. This ensures your jars won’t break from rattling against each other.
- Cover with water so that the jars are completely submerged.
- Bring to the boil and reduce heat to maintain a steady boil for 15 minutes. It felt a little odd to sterilise my pickled mushrooms this way but it is an effective way to sterilise them.
- Once cooled, store in a dark place and they are ready after a few weeks and can be stored for 1-2 years. When opened, store in the fridge thereafter. Enjoy!
Drying mushrooms is quite simple and there are two main methods; oven drying and air drying. I recently tried the oven method as an excuse to warm up our home.
- Preheat your oven to 50-60 degrees Celsius.
- Remove pine needles and gently clean your mushrooms using a damp cloth. Remove stems.
- If drying spongy mushrooms like the Slippery Jack variety (Suillus Granulatus), it is useful to remove excess moisture using some paper towels or a dry clean cloth.
- Slice and arrange slightly apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Place in the oven with the door slightly ajar or routinely open the door to allow moisture to escape. Dry for as long as required until your mushroom pieces snap. Drying time will depend on the type of mushrooms and how thick you cut them. Alternatively you can also dry your mushrooms as the whole cap. My batch pictured below took approximately 4-5 hrs with the oven door ajar.
- When your mushrooms have completely dried, store in a sealed container somewhere dry. A great tip I found online suggests to reuse those small silica packages you find in your vitamins or other dry foods, and place one amongst your mushrooms to absorb any moisture.
- To re-hydrate these mushrooms, place a few in a little hot water and stand for 10 min before adding to soups, sauces and stews.
I hope these tips and recipes are useful to you and you have fun preserving your forest mushrooms.
Have a lovely day,