Sunset is a perfect time to preserve the day's bounty!
We have two uncompromising rules when it comes to preservation:
- Collect only as many mushrooms as we can reasonably process within a few days.
- Only preserve mushrooms that are in very good condition and that are thoroughly cleaned.
Slice mushrooms no thicker than ¼ - ½ inch thick. Remember: the denser the species, the thinner the slice. Dry the slices using one of the following four methods:
- String and hang in
a light, airy room or in direct sunshine
in warmer weather.
- Spread on a wire screen over a heat register.
- Lay in a single layer on newsprint and turn daily until thoroughly dry.
- Distribute evenly in
Caution: Do not dry in an oven, which tends to make them extremely hard and very difficult to re-hydrate!
When thoroughly dry, place in a tight sealing container and freeze for one week. Freezing kills any microscopic bugs that made it through the dehydration process. Then remove from freezer and store in a dry place. To re-hydrate, soak in warm water for 15 minutes.
We successfully dry: morels, boletes, puffballs, matsutake, cauliflowers, corals, oysters.
Caution: The Bay Area Mycological Society recommends drying mushrooms away from your main living area because "dehydrators blow a high volume of spores into the air"...and "some people have developed allergies from breathing this effluent."
Leave small button mushrooms whole; halve or slice larger specimens. Freeze, using one of the following two methods:
- Sauté mushrooms in a small amount of butter or olive oil. Cool and pack in freezer bags or plastic containers.
- Steam over a small amount of boiling water for 10 minutes in a spaghetti cooker or similar pot. Cool. Pack into containers. Cover with liquid that has been extracted from the mushrooms and seal.
We successfully freeze: chanterelles, pig’s ears, morels, verpa, matsutake.
According to the publication PNW172, which is published by Pacific Northwest Extension, "There is no research-based processing time for wild mushrooms. Since wild mushrooms have a different texture from commercially grown mushrooms, the processing time for purchased mushrooms does not apply to wild mushrooms." Publication SP 50-919, revised January 2010 and issued by Oregon State University Extension Service, cautions "Unless you are an expert in mushroom identification, it is advisable to only preserve commercially sold mushrooms."
OSU's Publication SP 50-494 adds the following cautions about using canned foods: "Examine all canned foods before using them. (1) Inspect the can or jar before opening...Metal lids should be firm and flat or curved slightly inward. There should be no signs of leakage around the lid, rubber ring or elsewhere. (2) As the can or jar is opened, notice whether there is an inrush or an outrush of air. Spoilage is indicated when air rushes out or the liquid spurts. (3) Smell the contents at once. The odor should be characteristic of the food. An "off" odor probably means spoilage. (4) Check the food carefully to see that it appears to have characteristic texture and color...Liquids in all foods should be clear. Any change from the natural texture and color indicates spoilage. Do not taste any questionable foods. (5) Discard canned food with signs of spoilage...Spoiled low acid food (such as vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry) must be discarded more cautiously because it could contain botulinal toxin." Please see the publication for additional information.
Some years ago, the Puget Sound Mushroom Society of Seattle, Washington, published canning information for wild mushrooms, and we are passing it along for your consideration. In the past, we have preserved mushrooms using this method, but believe that you must decide for yourself if, after considering the possible risks, you wish to can mushrooms.
On a personal note, Steven and I no longer can mushrooms for a variety of reasons, including food safety and quality of product. Truthfully, we feel that dehydrated and frozen mushrooms are a far superior product to canned mushrooms. They are also less work, and take up less room in your pantry.
PSMS recommended the following method for canning wild mushrooms:
- Leave small button mushrooms whole; halve or slice larger specimens. Steam over a small amount of boiling water for 10 minutes. Pack into hot, clean pint or half-pint canning jars. Add ½ teaspoon salt to each pint and 1/4 teaspoon salt for each half-pint. Cover with liquid extracted from the mushrooms, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in pressure cooker at 10 pounds for 30 minutes for either half-pint or pint jars.
PSMS recommended canning: matsutake, russulas, cauliflowers, oysters, agaricus, chanterelles, hedgehogs, pig’s ears.
Other Preservation Options
A feeder stream rushes through
prime mushrooming forestland
into the Elk River.
Puget Sound Mycological Society’s Mushroom Extract
Clean and chop mushrooms. Place in a pan over very low heat. Do not add any liquid or fat. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes. Drain off liquid that accumulates and save. Keep draining liquid until no more cooks out. Add 2 cups
water to the drained,
cooked mushrooms and simmer until liquid is reduced to ½ cup. Combine this liquid with the previously drained liquid and cook over low heat until liquid is reduced and extract thickens slightly. Put in a small jar and refrigerate. Use in seasoning gravies, sauces, soups, meats and poultry dishes.
Puget Sound Mycological Society’s Pickled Chanterelles
Place in a very large kettle: 3 quarts sliced and blanched chanterelles, 2 cups chopped white onions, 2 cloves garlic, ¼ cup minced parsley, 1 bay leaf, 6 coarsely ground peppercorns, 1 ½ tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon tarragon, 4 cups dry white wine, 3 cups white vinegar, 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup olive oil. Stir to mix. Bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes. Put into sterilized pint jars. Seal. Put in a boiling water bath 15 minutes. Makes 8 pints. Age 2 months before opening.
Puget Sound Mycological Society’s Salted Mushrooms
Blanch cleaned, small whole mushrooms in boiling water 5-6 minutes and then wash thoroughly in cold water. Drain and cool mushrooms. Place mushrooms in a crock, heads down. Place in layers of 2-3 inches. Sprinkle with salt (1 ounce per pound of mushrooms). Add pickling spices. Cover with cold water. Cover crock with lid, held down firmly with a clean, heavy object. Serve in a month.
Looks like everyone's putting up
Jane Grigson’s Mushroom Powder
Place 5 quarts of sliced mushrooms, 2 sliced onions, 10 cloves, 1 ounce powdered mace and 2 teaspoons white pepper in large shallow pan. Put over low heat until the mushroom juices run. Then raise the heat so that the juices can evaporate, stirring continuously to that the mushrooms and onions do not burn. Spread onto baking trays and dry in a 200-degree oven. When perfectly dry, crush or grind to a powder and store in an airtight container. Add to soups and sauces just before serving.
Jane Grigson’s Mushroom Ketchup
Chop 3 pounds of mushrooms, spread out in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 6 tablespoons salt. Leave, covered, for 2 days, stirring and squashing them occasionally. Place mushrooms in saucepan, and add 2/3 cup wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons chopped onions, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 1 teaspoon allspice, ½ teaspoon mace, ½ teaspoon whole cloves, and ½ inch piece cinnamon. Simmer 2 hours with no lid on pan. Liquor will concentrate to a good strong flavor. Pour through a cloth into hot sterilized bottles and seal immediately.