September 25, 2015
I continue to expand my knowledge and use of wild edibles. The fall is when the pidpenky mushrooms are out. We are not completely sure what these mushrooms are called in English but the Ukrainians always picked these delicious mushrooms and preserved them to make a mushroom gravy for the Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper. I believe they are Honey Mushrooms, but I am not sure.
This was a great year for mushrooms and the pidpenky were abundant. They grew all over on our pathways through the bushes and in the grass surrounding the garden. No tramping through the bush to find them. We easily picked a 5 gallon pail. I parboiled and froze enough for Christmas and winter eating and the rest we gave away. We pick the small ones for eating, but we did find some really big ones.
Since my mother advises that you need to scrape the stems before cooking them or they will make the mushrooms slimy, I decided not to use the stems at all. We cut the stems off and parboiled the mushrooms for 15 minutes in plenty of water. After draining off the water, they are ready to use in gravy, soups or stews. I made a delicious cashew cream gravy. Pidpenky are a hearty, woodsy tasting mushroom.
In a recent mushroom conversation, Ken’s Auntie Helen told us that some of the old timers also ate Shaggy Mane mushrooms. This surprised us as they grow abundantly along the road and we always considered them to be inedible. However, I was browsing through a mushroom book ( The Savory Mushroom) the other night and the author, Bill Jones, declared young Shaggy Mane mushrooms (also known as Lawyer’s Wig) as delicious. So when we were on our morning walk and I spotted a patch of Shaggy Manes, I was determined to try them out.
You need to pick them young and cook them soon after picking as they are very fragile. I picked a handful of tender young ones and hurried home to stir fry them in olive oil with onions and mushrooms. Before eating them I consulted our mushroom bible, the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. They declared them to be ‘choice’, so we enjoyed our breakfast with a side of fried Shaggy Manes. Delicious.
Further research indicates that you can preserve Shaggy Manes by both pickling and freezing. Anxious to try them pickled, I went with a pail on this morning’s dog walk. I managed to find a number of the very small ones. Shaggy Manes are a very delicate mushroom but they come out of the ground like a solid bullet. Its as if all their flesh is enclosed in that bullet. Once out of the ground they expand and become more and more delicate. So I picked the solid little bullets and pickled one pint. I will wait until Christmas and try them out on the crowd. The recipe I used is below.
Pickled Shaggy Mane Mushrooms
- small compact shaggy mane mushrooms
- 1 cup vinegar (regular or white wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
Using a mushroom brush or a clean dry towel, brush any dirt off the mushrooms.
In a saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and onion to a boil. While this is coming to a boil, rinse the mushrooms gently to remove any remaining bits of dirt. Add the mushrooms to the vinegar mix and boil for 10 minutes. Spoon mushrooms into a sterilized pint jar and cover with vinegar solution to within 1/2 inch of the top. Cover with a sterilized lid and seal tightly. Place jar in a boiling water bath so that the water comes up to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Boil for 20 minutes. Remove from water bath and let cool. The lid should snap down to indicate a good seal. Store in a cool place for at least one month before using.
I will update the post after Christmas and let you know the results of the pickling experiment.