For as long as I can remember my father has foraged for wild mushrooms both here in the United States and, of course, in Calabria. And while my mother would use the mushrooms in pasta sauces and fried with bits of tomato and garlic it was the pickled mushrooms that drove (and continues to motivate) my father to acquire as many prized wild mushrooms as possiblle each fall.
What follows is a modified version of our pickled mushroom recipe, adopted from the wonderful book by Jim Denevan entitled Outstanding in the Field. Denevan uses a very traditional pickling method, while we preserve our mushrooms in olive oil (similar to our sun dried tomato recipe)
- -3 pounds wild mushrooms (click here for our guide on how to identify and find wild mushrooms)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 cups of white vinegar of at least 5 percent acidity (check the label)
- 1 cup white wine
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 1 large dried chiles, chopped (optional)
- 7-8 fresh basil leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- For the olive oil cure method: 3 parts vinegar and 1 part olive oil
- Wash four 1-pint glass canning jars, their rings and lids in a dishwasher or with hot, soapy water and rinse them thoroughly. Place the jars in the canner (or in a large pot fitted with a metal rack) and cover with hot water. Bring the water to a boil and boil vigorously for 10 minutes (this is a similiar process to our annual tomato canning effort). You may leave the jars in the hot water while you prepare the mushrooms.
- A few minutes before you are ready to transfer the mushrooms to the jars, pour simmering -- not boiling -- water over the lids to soften the seal, or follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Use a damp cloth to wipe any dirt or sand from the mushrooms. Cut any larger mushrooms into halves or quarters; leave them whole if they are a manageable size. Set the mushrooms aside.
- Combine the vinegar, 1 cup water, the sugar, pickling salt, peppercorns, garlic, basil, chiles in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and then add the mushrooms. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Drain the jars and pack the mushrooms into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch headspace at the top of each jar. Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jars to cover the mushrooms. Thoroughly wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Set the lids in place and screw on the rings. Any jar that has more than ½ inch headspace should be refrigerated, not processed, and eaten within a couple of weeks.
- Fill the canner with hot water and add the jars; the jars should be covered by 1 to 2 inches. Cover the canner and bring the water to a boil. Start timing once the water reaches a boil and process for 10 minutes. Using a jar lifter, remover the jars from the pot and let cool for at least 12 hours in a location without any drafts. To test the seal after this time, press down on the lid; it should not move when pressed.
- Set aside in a cool, dry and dark place for at least 2 weeks before using. The pickled wild mushrooms will keep for up to 1 year. Discard if at any time the mixture looks moldy, foamy or murky, or if it does not smell right when opened.