Preserving your Wild Forest Mushrooms (Pickling and Drying Methods)

Hello,

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.

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A glorious Polish bonfire: grilled kransky with sauteed forest mushrooms

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

Method:

  • 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.

 

Pickled Mushrooms

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

 

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Method:

  • 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.

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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!

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Drying Mushrooms

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.

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I hope these tips and recipes are useful to you and you have fun preserving your forest mushrooms.

Have a lovely day,

Jacqueline

 

 

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Zesty Lemon and Lime Curd

Hello,

Recently I have been quite keen to make some homemade preserves, as there are many times during the year where we find a temporary oversupply of delicious fruit and vegetables. Making my own condiments with local produce has been a little dream since the beginning of our whole tree change adventure, a rite of passage for the country life! The funny thing is I have returned home many times with large quantities of strawberries, plums and tomatoes, intending to preserve them. However, they have always magically turned into cakes or soups!

I had a few lemon and limes remaining from a cocktail night, so today I would like to share with you how I turned them into the most delicious and zesty Lemon and Lime Curd. What I love about citrus curd is the harmony between sweetness, sourness and creaminess of the egg and butter. I have refined this recipe a few times to find the right balance between zesty citrus and that lingering creaminess.

This Lemon and Lime Curd can be used as a spread on toast, pancakes, pavlova and tart filling. I find it most ideal as an accompaniment with light and buttery scones topped with a dollop of cream.

Lemon and Lime Curd

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What you will need:

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

170g caster sugar

Juice and Zest from 2 lemons

Juice from 4 limes

150g salted butter (chopped)

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Directions:

  1. Separate egg yolks, finely grate lemon zest and extract juice  from the lemons and limes.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, the two yolks and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is well combined.
  3. Add the juice and zest and further combine.DSC_6133
  4. Place a double boiler or a bowl over a post of simmering water. Ensure the base of the top pot or bowl is not touching the simmering water.
  5. Add the egg and lemon mixture and cook using low to medium heat, stirring continuously for 10-15 min or until thickened.DSC_6135
  6. Add the chopped butter individually and whisking the mixture in between further additions.DSC_6134
  7. When thick and glossy turn off the heat and cover to cool aside.DSC_6138
  8. Serve when slightly cooled or store in a sterilised jar and refrigerate.
  9. Test the lemon curd regularly with a little spoon when no one is watching, just to check if still delicious!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe and have some fun making your own zesty curd preserve. Please note that I forgot to label the jar with ‘lime’, the featured curd is made from this recipe!

Smacznego and have a bright and zesty day,

Jacqueline

 

 

Pear and Raspberry Streusel~ Placek z Gruskami I Malinami

A streusel (or ‘placek’ in Polish) is a 31 delicious light yeast cake baked with seasonal fruit and topped with a rich crumble ‘kruszonka’. Apples, plums and cherries are commonly used as the fruit filling in the Polish kitchen. My version draws inspiration from my travels in France, using the complimenting flavours of sweet juicy pear, the delicious tartness of raspberry with bursts of buttery cinnamon crumble scattered on top.

What I love about the humble streusel is how fuss-free and forgiving it is to bake. A staple for a gathering with friends or family, and easily transportable for a casual picnic or a trip to the forest. I have many wonderful memories of my grandmothers turning up at a family gathering, with a large tray of  warm freshly baked placek. Wafting in the air would be the delicious scent of yeast cake and the sweetness of baked fruit . Like the common Australian-style banana bread, the ratios of ingredients can be varied according to taste and there is no need for stringent measuring to produce a great bake. The only imperative step when baking a yeast-based cake is to ensure that the yeast is not combined with milk warmer than 50°C otherwise the dough may not rise. A slightly cooler milk is ok, though you may need a little more time for it to grow.

Other suitable fillings include: plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, apples, strawberries and blueberries. Alternatively, a poppy seed filling is also very delicious and quite popular amongst Poles.

Recipe for Pear and Raspberry Streusel~Placek z Gruskami I Malinami

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For the yeast cake you will need:

2 cups plain flour

2 eggs

1/3 cup milk

1 cup caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

170 g melted butter (cooled to room temperature)

1 sachet dry yeast

Pinch of salt

4 pears

250 g frozen raspberries

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Crumble topping ~ Kruszonka

3/4 cup plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

125g cold butter

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Heat milk  and allow to cool down to 50°C.

2. Combine the yeast, 3 tbsp. plain flour and 3 tbsp. sugar to the milk, cover with a tea towel and rest in a warm area for about 15 min. You should see the mixture bubble up and double in size. Leave longer if the mixture has not doubled in size.

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3. Preheat your oven to 180c or 170c fan-forced.

4. When the yeast mixture has grown and doubled in size, add it to your mixing bowl preferably using the dough hook attachment and a medium speed setting. Add the eggs, sieved plain flour, remaining sugar, vanilla paste and melted butter. Knead the dough using the mixer or by hand until the dough becomes elastic and slightly glossy.

5. Butter a 33x 24cm rectangle baking tray or use baking paper and distribute the dough evenly.

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6. Peel, core and slice the pears and arrange on top of the dough with the raspberries. (I prefer to arrange the pear slices in clumps and fill in the spaces with the  raspberries for a rustic look, but feel free to decorate to your preference).

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7. Combine the dry ingredients for the crumble topping then work in the cold butter with your fingertips until combined.

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8. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the streusel.

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9. Bake for 50min or until the crumble is golden brown. Serve warm or cooled, on its own or with a dollop of double cream. Enjoy!

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Happy baking and Smacznego!

Have a wonderful day,

 

Jacqueline

Strawberry Pierogi ~ Polish Strawberry Dumplings

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Hello again!

Today I will be sharing with you something very close to my heart, my Pierogi recipe that I have tweaked into my own over the years. Pierogi are delicate little dumplings filled with a variety of delicious fillings ranging from meat and cabbage, mushroom, farm house white cheese and onion, to berries and cherries for a sweeter version. Every Polish grandmother has their own Pierogi recipe that of course is the best (but not as good as my Grandmother’s!) Such a simple yet mouth watering dish that has become one of the national dishes of Poland.

My beautiful Grandmother Babcia Zosia is one of the most brilliant cooks I have ever known. She can cook the simplest or most difficult dish with such perfection without ever using a recipe, and will leave you with a lingering food memory for years to come. She could cater for our entire extended family in her tiny little kitchen with ease, and prepare excessive amounts of food and dishes Every Single Time. However, her everyday simple cooking left me most mesmerised. Her way of cooking humble chicken drumsticks or a crumbed mince-filled crepe would leave me in awe likened to an experience of a good restaurant.

Sadly, my Kochana Babcia (loving Grandmother) is currently very unwell and in honour of her, I would like to share my version of my absolute favourite dish she cooked for me as a child; Strawberry Pierogi. Many summers ago, Babcia would make these beautiful Pierogi filled with strawberries and she would serve them boiled, with copious amounts of melted butter or cream drizzled over the top and finished with a generous sprinkling of sugar. This would be a dessert after a long day of feasting or even better, this dish would be made for me as an ordinary lunch during a sleep over as a young child. To be given such a sweet and delicious treat as a meal is certainly a highlight of my childhood!

Strawberry Pierogi

For the Pierogi Dough you will need:

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  • 800g Plain flour
  • 100gm Butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 400ml Water
  • Pinch of salt

*Makes approximately 100 Pierogi. Simply halve the ingredients for less dough

  1. Sift flour over a bowl (or over your kitchen mixer bowl). Gently rub the butter into the flour until you have a coarse crumb texture. By hand (or using the kneading attachment on your kitchen mixer), slowly knead in each egg individually until completely incorporated.
  2. Add the water slowly by pouring in a steady stream whilst continuously kneading the dough. Once incorporated, knead for a further 10 min by hand (or knead with your kitchen mixer for 15 min on a low to medium setting). Kneading the dough for sufficient time is very important in achieving a smooth and pliable dough.

DSC_27473. Cover and refrigerate the dough for a few hours, and leave out in room temperature for a further 20 min before required. I have discovered this process over the years of making Pierogi and it helps so much with the ease of roiling out the dough later on.

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4. Once the dough has rested, sprinkle a dusting of flour over a wooden board or a clean surface. Roll out the dough until about 3mm thick. Using an inverted tumbler or cookie cutter dusted in flour, cut out circles approximately 7 cm in diameter. Cover with a tea towel to prevent them from drying out before you fill each one.

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For the Strawberry filling you will need:

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  • 1 kg Strawberries washed and halved
  • 3 Tbs caster sugar
  • Juice from 1 lemon

To serve you will need:

  • Pouring cream (or any cream you prefer, or melted butter)
  • Sprinkle of coarse or Demerara sugar for each serve

 

  1. Mix the halved strawberries with the sugar and juice until combined.
  2. Hold a circle of dough and place 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling in the centre of each circle. Carefully fold the dough in half and press the edges together with your finger tips. If there is a noticeable gap in the dou before closing, add some more filling as too much air inside could cause them to fall apart during the cooking process.

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3. Boil a large pot of water and cook about 7-10 dumplings at time for about 2-3 minutes (they should float to the top). Take them out and drain separated so they don’t stick together.

4. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of coarse sugar and a lovely drizzle of cream.

Note: You can freeze the unboiled Pierogi for about 3-6 months. Ensure you freeze them separately, before sealing them in a freezer bag or container to avoid them sticking together. I prefer to make them in advance and boil them frozen as they tend to keep their shape better.

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Please let me know how your Pierogi go, and please don’t hesitate to ask any questions. They are so much fun to make together with friends and family, and they taste so delicious.

Smacznego and happy cooking!

Jacqueline

 

 

 

 

 

Carpathian Mountain Cake ~ Karpatka

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The Carpathian Mountain cake or “Karpatka” as commonly known to Polish people, is a treasured dessert inspired by the magnificent Carpathian Mountain range that extends across the southern part of Poland. This dessert is close to my heart as my father comes from a beautiful city called Bielsko-Biała, lying in foothills of the Carpathian mountains in south-western Poland. A delicate and airy choux pastry base is filled with a velvety vanilla cream custard, that gives French crème patisserie some competition! Wavy contours bubble up during the baking process, and when finished with a gentle dusting of icing sugar, you have your very own edible snowy mountain! In essence; a fusion of a vanilla slice and a profiterole with Polish style, that will leave a memorable impression with your family and friends.

Choux pastry recipe

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For the choux pastry base you will need:                                      

  • 250ml water
  • 5 medium free-range eggs (or 4 large free-range eggs)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 125g butter

1. Melt the butter in the water until almost boiling.

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2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the melted butter and water stirring continuously on a medium heat for 1-2 min. When the dough stays cleanly off the edges of the pan, remove from the heat and spread in a shallow bowl to cool.

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3. Once the dough is cooled down (so it’s no longer hot to touch) mix in one yolk at a time until the dough is thick and glossy.

Tip: To cool the dough faster, use the mixer to release steam, until it’s cool enough to add the yolks.

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4. Divide the pastry dough into two rectangle 30x 19 cm baking pans, spreading evenly.

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5. Bake in a 220°c oven (or 200°c fan-forced) for 20- 25 min. Leave to cool.

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Vanilla cream custard recipe

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For the vanilla cream custard you will need:

  • 1 litre full cream milk
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 5 free-range eggs yolks
  • 300 ml thickened cream
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, deseeded

1. Mix the flour and eggs yolks with 1/3 of the milk until smooth and well combined.

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2. Gently heat the remaining milk  on low to medium heat with the deseeded extract of the vanilla bean and half of the sugar. Slowly whisk in the egg mixture and continue whisking gently until the custard thickens and just reaches boiling point. Cool the mixture then refrigerate until completely chilled.

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3.  Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the chilled custard in spoonfuls, and continue whipping until well combined. Tip: Ensure your cream does not reach stiff peaks before the custard is added, to avoid over-whipping the cream.

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4. Spread the vanilla cream custard over the first pastry base quite liberally and top with the second base. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

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5. To finish your Carpathian mountain cake, dust with icing sugar immediately before serving. Enjoy!

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Please share if you try out this delicious recipe and what you think!

Smacznego and happy baking!

Jacqueline