Although we need more rain, I did manage to find about a pound and a half of chanterelles this weekend. Now it’s still so dry that there weren’t very many but mushroom hunting was cut short by the very dramatic collapse of one small dog. Granted, he has no achilles tendon on one side and wears an orthotic, but he went full tilt until we were about a mile away from the car, then sat down, panting, and wanted to be carried back. After a refreshing cooling off period in a creek, we walked, very slowly, and very limpily back to the car. He got limpier still when sympathetic people passed him on the trail. So much so, that one guy in his 20s, with a toddler in a backpack, offered to carry him. Oh Owie! Have some pride!
Anyhow, we did score a nice little haul of chanterelles, and I experimented with the Fungi all Olio recipe from My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South. This is one of my favorite cookbooks I reviewed last year, and while I did her green tomatoes preserved in oil, by the time I got the book, the mushroom season was over. The green tomatoes were so delicious that I’ve been waiting all year to do mushrooms. In short, the method works like so: you salt the item you’re preserving, in this case the chanterelles, then boil them in vinegar for about five minutes, then dry them overnight on towels. What you want is for the surface to be a little tacky, but not leathery. Then you chop up some garlic and aromatics (I used chiles and summer savory) and submerge it all in olive oil. As you can see below, the chanterelles shrunk up a lot, I wound up with just over half a pint. (I also kept about a cup or so out for cooking fresh.)
Here’s the caveat though — garlic in olive oil can, according to the USDA, create an environment in which botulism can grow. They recommend refrigeration, which will solidify the olive oil. On the other hand, the author says her family has been preserving food this way for centuries. So, preserver beware. I have the mushrooms hanging out in the pantry for now, and if I don’t eat them all right away, I’ll probably put them in the fridge by the end of the week. I just wanted a chance for all the flavors to meld. I’m thinking these are going to be delicious on toast.
Oh! and another by product of this project was a bottle of lovely golden chanterelle vinegar! I bottled the vinegar in which the chanterelles were poached and used it to make mustard this weekend. It’s both lovely and delicious.