Pickled Oyster Mushrooms

pickled mushrooms Here they are — the first preserves of the season — pickled oyster mushrooms (just writing that makes me feel like someone in a Tolstoy novel — they’re always eating pickled mushrooms in Tolstoy).

It’s been unremittingly cold and rainy, which is terrible for just about everything except the oyster mushrooms. While I only found a handful of morels this weekend, I found probably 20 pounds of oysters — the small and tender ones I sauteed in lots of butter, some garlic, thyme and a little alleppo pepper, then finished with some wine and cream. Then I froze them in batches. Although they are pretty delicious, even a piggy girl like me couldn’t eat all those mushrooms in cream at one time. I also have to say that cooking with real, unpasteurized cream that does not contain any additives like carageenen is a revelatory experience. A cream sauce made with this magical substance does not get gummy, but rather, unctuous.

So, mushrooms in cream sauce aside, I had a number of enormous oyster mushrooms to deal with — the big ones tend to get woody, and I don’t love them sauteed. Last year, my beloved stepmother gave me The Complete Mushroom Book, which is where I got this recipe. You clean and slice the mushrooms, then boil them for 8 minutes in salted water. Meanwhile, you make a brine from vinegar, an onion quartered, some garlic, thyme, bay leaves, a little salt and I threw in a dried hot pepper from last summer’s garden. You simmer that for 15 minutes. When the mushrooms have cooked, you drain them, add them to the brine, and cook for another 5 minutes. Then pack into sterilized jars.

The original recipe says you can store them just like that, but I also processed them in a hot water bath for about 15 minutes (we lost the power part way through, so it might have been a little longer). They’re pretty vinegary, so they taste best when you take them out of the brine, and let them marinate in some nice olive oil for a little while before serving.

I did a batch last spring as an experiment, and I liked them so well that I was thrilled to find so many ginormous oyster mushrooms this spring. They’re delicious, and a little odd, and sort of out of the ordinary. Good hostess presents (for people who aren’t freaked out by wild mushrooms).

4 thoughts on “Pickled Oyster Mushrooms”

  1. I am SO envious! I adore mushrooms
    This autumn I am going to find me a funghi course to attend so that I can, finally, learn to be a forager

  2. A thought I had for your large excess mushrooms would be to dry and powder them for dishes where you want mushroom flavor but not necessarily mushroom texture or bits.

  3. Love this idea! They look wonderful. You adding hot pepper–genius! What about a wedge of roasted red bell sweetness to counter the vinegar a bit? I have to try yours with the olive oil first . A local market has organic Crimini–baby Portobellos. I do wonder if it’s a worthy substitute, or I’d simply be creating a batch of rubber baby bellas? My mouth is watering just thinking of the prospects though.

    btw, great note about carageenan–I am always searching for products w/out the seaweed gelatin, and it’s in so many products–ice creams, yogurts, cottage and ricotta cheese, etc. Once you find the real thing again, it’s too obvious, isn’t it?

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