Saturday, September 19, 2020

Journal, Day 183: Mushroom!

45  this morning, downright chilly! But a sparkling, beautiful day. 

This was a lovely fall day. Crisp and bright, no humidity, heavy morning dew. The kind of day that makes you feel like getting things done.

The things on my to-do list weren't the most fun, however. We spent several hours yesterday at our booths in Ravenswood, and today I had to do catch-up work--laundry, sweeping, mopping, and so on. I listened to the radio as I worked, all the tributes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conflict over her replacement. I can't believe people were wrangling over that before she was even cold. How heartless we've become, when a nation does not even take the time to properly mourn one of its greatest justices before the dogfights begin. I am so sad for our country, and worried over where we are headed. It does not look good to me.

But. There was music, there was bright sunshine, good coffee, and lots to do at least in this small, still-sane corner of America. And there was this giant mushroom we found on the way home yesterday.

This thing was right near the top of our driveway, and I knew it was edible as soon as I saw it because a couple years back we had one similar on another tree. That one was a chanterelle, this one is Chicken of the Woods, but they look very similar. And both are edible. I checked with some knowledgeable friends and with an online mushroom group just to be sure, and then looked for ways to cook it. 

A site called The Chopping Block offered a lot of good information, and a recipe for something called duxelle that used the tougher parts of the mushroom. Then I found information on canning them--I knew it could be done because several friends have done it, but I wanted to be sure to do it right. First step was cleaning the mushroom, washing each piece and patting them dry. Then I chopped it up, separating into three piles: one for eating for dinner, one for canning, and one for the duxelle. This one is the "eat now" pile of the tenderest part, the very outer edges of each piece.

I found canning recipes on two sites--listed below--and both offered about the same recipe, with only a slight variation in the processing time. I opted for the longer time just to be safe. Canning was a simple process: put the cut-up pieces in boiling water for five minutes, pack into sterilized jars and cover with the cooking liquid, add a little salt to each jar, put the lids on and process in a pressure canner for 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. I ended up with one pint and 7 half-pints. I will use these just as I would the canned mushrooms from the store.

Before pressure canning:

And after.

The duxelle was a little more complicated. You can find the recipe here. Basically, the pieces are chopped fine in a food processor, then sauteed with garlic and onion until the pan is almost dry. Then white wine, salt and pepper are added and the mixture is cooked for quite a long time, until the mushroom bits are tender, adding water as needed and cooking until all the liquid is cooked out. I added rosemary, thyme and parsley too, and loved the taste of the finished product. This will be used to stuff chicken breasts or pork chops. I put it into plastic bags and froze it for later use.

The finished duxelle:

I decided to use the pieces kept for eating in an alfredo sauce over pasta. I sauteed the mushroom pieces, onion, celery, zucchini and yellow squash, then made the sauce as usual, in the pan with the veggies. It was delicious. Best part is there was plenty, so we'll have leftovers tomorrow.

So pretty. This was at the beginning of the saute:

I am hoping we can get into the woods tomorrow and look for more chicken of the woods. This one provided a LOT of mushroom; it would be great to get another one and add to my stockpile. We usually only hunt for the morel mushrooms in the spring, but now we have another wild food that we will definitely be on the lookout for.

These are the two sites with canning information:

There are many other recipes online, for making fried "chicken" fingers, pickled mushrooms, and others. I was happy with my experiments today, and hope to be able to try a few others if we find more wild gold.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


  1. Wow! That is amazing you got all that for free! Fantastic.

  2. David has brought home morels and leatherbacks, which I usually fry up right away or freeze for later. I've never seen the chicken of the woods, but that duxelle you made sounds delicious. Jack-o'lanterns are found frequently around here, they look like chanterelles but are not edible. I've never tried canning the leatherbacks--I wonder how they'd turn out? They have a strong flavor and I am afraid might be overpowering if I canned them and used them in a recipe. Any thoughts?

    1. I don't know, Judy. I don't know what leatherbacks are. Motels and chicken of the woods are both mild I think. Canning does tend to intensify some flavors. Maybe you should join the FB mushroom group. They might know.


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