Autumn is the time for foraging for mushrooms. There are a couple of ways to preserve them for the winter; they can be dried or salted. Below I present my recipe for pickling them in vinegar.
- mushrooms – as many as are available
- 500 ml water
- 200 ml distilled white vinegar, 5% acidity
- 15 g sugar
- 10 g salt
- bay leaves, around 5
- black peppercorns, approx. 1 tsp.
- allspice (whole), approx. 1 tsp.
The amount of mushrooms depends on how many can be found in the forest, so I’m not giving a specific quantity. The ingredient proportions for the pickling solution should be enough for at least 10 small jars. The pickling solution calculator may be useful to recalculate the vinegar to water ratio.
Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Boil for 15 minutes in water with a pinch of salt and a small amount of vinegar.
Mix the water and vinegar in a pot, add the salt, sugar and the spices. Let the mix boil, then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
To sterilised jars, first add hot mushrooms, then top with boiling hot solution. Screw on the lids tightly. Pasteurisation isn’t necessary, but shouldn’t adversely affect the mushrooms. Leave the jars aside for at least a few days, ideally at least a month.
Mushrooms for pickling should ideally be as small as possible. They look the best and they neatly fit into small jars. Larger ones taste the same, but may need to be cut into smaller pieces, which isn’t aesthetically pleasing.
The mushroom varieties best suited for pickling are the firm ones, without an overly sweet flavour. If sweet varieties dominate the harvest, such as saffron milk caps or gypsy mushrooms, I’d recommend reducing the amount of sugar in the pickling solution.
The pickling solution often becomes viscous over time. This is a normal phenomenon, caused by the chemicals that mushrooms are comprised of – chitin and glucans. Depending on the mushroom variety and their boiling time, the solution may become more or less viscous, but whatever the case, this is by no means a reason to be alarmed.
Autumn has always been a busy time of the year for me. It’s when various foods get preserved for the winter. Mushrooms are one of them. Today I’m going to pickle them.
Obtaining the mushrooms is the fun part. They can be bought, but I prefer to forage. September and October are when bay boletes are plentiful. They’re a particularly aromatic variety that I often dry. The small ones though are perfect for making pickled mushrooms.
Do you go foraging? What are your favourite mushrooms and how do you like preparing them? Let me know in the comments!
Once I’m done foraging, I clean the mushrooms and prepare the caps of the smaller ones for pickling. The pickling solution will require water, vinegar, salt, sugar, allspice, black peppercorns and bay leaves.
I’ve got some velvet boletes, which I consider excellent for pickling. Bay boletes account for the majority of my mushrooms. I’ve also got a few birch boletes, though they’re better suited for other uses. Saffron milk caps are rather sweet. There’s also a small penny bun or two, firm and mild tasting.
I turn the stove on and pour water and vinegar into a pot. I also add the remaining ingredients: salt, sugar, allspice, black peppercorns and bay leaves. I stir until the sugar dissolves. Once the pickling solution boils, I continue to simmer it, covered, for fifteen minutes. This should extract a lot of aroma from the ingredients. I transfer the pot to the gas stove to free the hob up.
I place another pot on the stove and fill it with water. While I wait for the water to boil, I decide to swap the pot for a larger one. I also add a touch of salt and a bit of vinegar. It’ll prevent the mushrooms from losing their colour.
Once the water is hot, I put the mushrooms in it. I let the water come to a boil and count down 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms tend to foam up a bit and I skim some of the foam with a spoon.
15 minutes are up, time to drain the mushrooms. As usual, I forget things get hot during cooking. I need some kitchen gloves.
That’s enough simmering.
I prepare small jars. They’ve been thoroughly washed and sterilised. I fill them with mushrooms. Once they’re full, I top them with hot pickling solution. I tightly close the lids and I’m done. Pickled mushrooms don’t need to be pasteurised. I’ve never seen them go bad.
The mushrooms shrink quite a bit when they’re boiled. A full bowl yielded only three small jars. By the way, the excess pickling solution won’t be wasted. I’ll store it in the fridge for later, maybe for some pickled peppers.
I’ve given the mushrooms a week. They really should remain in the pantry for a month for the flavours to fully develop. I couldn’t wait any longer though.
The aroma comes mostly from the pickling solution. It’s pleasant, not overly strong. The mushrooms are absolutely gorgeous. Pretty firm, with a nice vinegary bite. They’re a great side dish or a company to a shot of vodka. Delicious!