Preserving Wild Mushrooms & Making Mushroom Stock


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

People I don’t want to brag (okay, maybe I do), but I just found a truly epic quantity of St. George’s Mushrooms. About 4kg of them! I actually had to stop picking because I couldn’t carry anymore. They were everywhere!


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

And the vast majority of them were happily maggot free!


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

All in one little patch of grass – the ground was laden. I had to watch where I trod carefully, picking just a little patch of grass to kneel on here and there while I harvested.


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

As usual, the inhabitants of the flats nearby eyed me warily, the looks on their faces changing to deep misgiving when they realised what I was actually doing. I will never cease to be amazed by people’s lack of curiosity about the food growing, literally, in their back garden. When bought from Stockholm’s restaurant supplier, these mushrooms cost 400kr/kg (about £40 or $60), yet none of the locals – in a pretty fancy suburb of Stockholm – were remotely interested. In fact, they were horrified.

All the more for me!!!


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

With so many of these mushrooms in my kitchen I had to find some way to preserve them. Not all wild mushrooms benefit from drying, and I already had a lot of dried shiitake and porcini in my pantry, so I opted for freezing. This method works well for all fairly substantial wild mushrooms – something slender like winter chanterelles or amethyst deceivers won’t work so well.


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

To prepare them for freezing, the mushrooms are dry sautéed or roasted in an uncrowded pan or baking tray. This drives off the excess water and browns the mushrooms, creating additional, more complex, mushroom flavours which will enhance any dish you use them in. This method also makes them more freezer-safe. The texture of cooked, browned mushrooms will be much more similar when defrosted than if you freeze them with all the water still inside.


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

The other benefit of preserving mushrooms in this way is that you can make a beautiful, rich mushroom stock in the pan when you are finished.


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

As they cook, the mushrooms release their juices which will evaporate and caramelise, leaving an incredibly flavourful residue on the pan. The heat needs to be kept high enough that the juices dry out almost immediately (to stop the vegetables stewing in their own water), but low enough that those gorgeous dried juices don’t burn. This isn’t very difficult – medium high heat is a good place to start and just adjust the temperature if you see something untoward happening. Making the stock is then a simple matter of deglazing the pan with a little water after you have removed the mushrooms and turned off the heat.

With such a huge glut of mushrooms, I am afraid it is inevitable that a slew of mushroom recipes is on its way…

I hope you like mushrooms!


Photo credit: Nancy Anne Harbord

Please click here to see the formatted, printable recipe on Ramsons & Bramble

 

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