Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvesting and Marinating Mushrooms – October 12, 2013

Last year I blogged about planting Shiitake mushroom spores at our community garden.  So far, a few have poked out but immediately been consumed by squirrels, but there are still old mushroom spores in the garden planted 4-5 years ago and they all sprouted at once into beautiful soft mushrooms.  I have found that you need to pick mushrooms right away because they get tough and they start to be eaten if left very long.  So, another gardener and I split the harvest and I still had over a pound of mushrooms.

The stem of the Shiitake (unlike many other mushrooms) is too tough to eat, so I removed those, brushed all the dirt off the mushrooms and began considering how to put them up until needed.  My original idea was to dry the mushrooms, but after some Google searching, marinated mushrooms sounded much more delicious, so I decided to give them a try.  I can also report they were so good, I marinated another batch several weeks later.

Marinated Mushrooms

1-2  pounds small, meaty mushrooms
1 pint white vinegar or cider vinegar
Kosher salt or pure sea salt
Zest of a lemon, sliced into wide strips
2 dried hot chiles, split lengthwise
1/2 T. oregano
1/2 c. olive oil

Cut the Shiitake mushrooms into 1/2 inch strips. With small mushrooms, like a button mushroom, you need only cut them in half, and you can leave the smaller ones whole.
Lay down a layer of salt on a tray and place the mushrooms on it. Then salt them on top to cover. Let them stand at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
Put the mushrooms between paper towels and gently squeeze them a bit to remove any remaining water.  Then, boil them in the vinegar for five minutes.  Fish out the mushrooms and put them between paper towels again and gently squeeze them to remove some of the vinegar.  Lay the mushrooms on a clean cloth to dry.  Let them air dry until they are no longer damp, but still pliable (not until they are leather.) Turn the mushrooms once or twice during this time, 12-24 hours.
Put the oil, lemon zest, oregano and chile in a bowl and toss the mushrooms in them. Pack this into glass jars. Use a chopstick or some other kind of clean stick to poke around the jar — you want to find and remove as many air bubbles as possible. Make sure the mushrooms are submerged in the oil.  Refrigerate and wait at least a week before eating. These mushrooms will keep in the fridge for 6 months.
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