Browsing the archives for the mushrooms tag.


How To Store Extra Wild Mushrooms

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Chicken Mushroom (Sulfur Shelf)

Chicken Mushroom (Sulfur Shelf)

Too many mushrooms? Sometimes it happens. We stumble upon a downed tree covered with chicken mushrooms. We sneak a peak behind an old oak and find fifty pounds of hens of the woods (oh, how I wish!) We walk through the woods passing giant puffball after giant puffball. Much of it we leave but sometimes we take more than we can stomach in a sitting or two. So….what to do with the extra?

Having dried or frozen wild mushrooms on hand is actually awesome. In the middle of the winter how nice it is to cook up a maitake chili, or top our omelets with morels…pure decadence!

But every mushroom is different: some dry better than others, some fresh freeze wonderfully, and some it’s best to cook before freezing. Here is what I do with my extras:

  • Morels: having excess morels is rare but possible. These I dehydrate and they reconstitute beautifully.
  • Chicken mushrooms: I have never dried because I hear they “turn to dust.” This year I tired fresh freezing extra chicken mushroom, and also dry sauteed some and then froze it. In both cases I cut it first before freezing because as a rule it’s best not to thaw mushrooms, just throw them from the freezer into a hot pan or pot.
  • Hens of the Woods (Maitake) - these store well both dried and fresh frozen (I’ve done both.) I also cut these into smaller pieces when drying or freezing and again, don’t thaw the mushrooms before using; just throw them from the freezer onto a hot pan or into a hot pot (which is why I cut them before freezing.)
  • Giant Puffballs: Cook and freeze. They can be sauteed, fried, blanched, steamed, baked, grilled…however you want to cook them and then freeze them.

How have you stored your extra mushrooms? I’d love to hear if you have different experiences or advice on how to preserve the mushrooms!

Love and giant puffballs,

Melissa

~ Food Under Foot

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The Hunt for Wild Mushrooms

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This article first appeared in the East End Food Cooperator in August, 2012 (I think it was August). Unfortunately I can’t find the link to the article, but you’ll get to the Coop’s website with the link above. I added the pictures below. :-)

The Hunt for Wild Mushrooms
by Melissa Sokulski

morel mushrooms, early spring

morel mushrooms, early spring

Mushrooms are an interesting entity: neither plant nor animal, fungi are their own kingdom and upon close examination actually have more in common with animals than plants. Their cell walls contain chitin, found in shells of crabs and exoskeletons of insects but absent from plants. Plants make their own food but like animals fungi digest their food with enzymes they produce. Fungi also take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide like animals, while plants do just the reverse.

Nevertheless, as a vegetarian I am comfortable eating mushrooms and wild mushrooms are a true culinary delight - a feast for the forager - if you know what you are looking for.

When my husband and I first decided to learn about wild mushrooms, we were extremely fortunate to stumble upon the amazing and generous Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. We decided to go on one of their free weekly walks, open to members and guests. They meet at parks all over Allegheny County and beyond, there are now chapters of the club in Indiana county and Washington/Greene counties. Usually led by club mycologists and attended by experts as well as amateurs, this is a great way to learn about the fungus among us (I just had to!)

chicken mushroom

chicken mushroom

On our way to Deer Lake to meet the club one Saturday in August, my husband Dave and I promised each other that no matter what they said we would not eat any wild mushrooms. Wild mushrooms are dangerous, I proclaimed, mimicking the warnings of my herbal mentor who told me, “Native Americans didn’t even eat wild mushrooms,” (untrue) and “The number one cause of death among mycologists is mushroom poisoning!” (also not true.) But apparently a promise made is a promise broken in our household because before long we were filling our basket with golden yolk-colored chanterelles, a prized culinary mushroom.

a member of the western pa mushroom club with a basket of chanterelles, on our first mushroom walk

a member of the western pa mushroom club with a basket of chanterelles, on our first mushroom walk

One mushroom expert pointed out the false gills of the mushroom, and further explained that chanterelles grow singly from the ground unlike the poisonous (but rarely deadly) Jack O’Lantern, a common look-alike which often grows in clusters on wood. “But sometimes the wood is buried,” he warned, “like an underground root, so you have to be careful.” Another distinction is that Jack O’Lanterns are bio-luminescent, they glow in the dark. I was beginning to learn that edible or not, mushrooms are endlessly beautiful and fascinating.

We got the mushrooms home and prepared them, slicing them and noticing the apricot smell. We sauteed them (most edible wild mushrooms need to be cooked or can make you sick) and were hooked.

Filling out the application to join the club, one question asked, “How many wild mushrooms can you confidently identify?” I confidently filled in the blank with a zero. The thought of being able to identify wild mushrooms daunted me. Now I can identify over thirty, from delicious morels to the deadly Destroying Angel, both of which do indeed grow in this area.

Giant Puffball Mushrooms

Giant Puffball Mushrooms

The late summer into the fall is a great time to learn about wild mushrooms. There are a lot of beginner-friendly edible mushrooms to identify all throughout the city parks including the chicken mushroom or sulfur shelf (one of my favorites), chanterelles, giant puffball, black trumpets, lions mane or bear tooth, and the hen of the woods. The best way to learn to identify these mushrooms is by walking with experts like those in the mushroom club and attending their monthly meetings at Beechwood Farm Nature Reserve, which are also free and open to guests. Their annual foray is in September. There are walks and talks by experts, as well as a mushroom feast: dozens of dishes made with wild mushrooms by members of the mushroom club.

You can also find identification information and wild mushroom recipes on this website. Adding mushrooms to your foraging basket is as fun as it is delicious, and can be safe with care and knowledge. As I’ve heard many times from many people in the mushroom club, “There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters.”

This article and all pictures copyright Melissa Sokulski

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Take a second look at that soccer ball in the woods…

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Giant Puffball Mushrooms

Giant Puffball Mushrooms

I almost walked right by this. Well, that’s not totally true. First I asked myself whether or not we could use another soccer ball. “Nah,” I thought, having just come from my daughter’s soccer game (soccer on the brain.) “She has one, we’re good.” I guess I even said out loud, “Do we want another soccer ball?” because Dave took one look and strode over for a better one. He had his suspicions. He found one last year that I walked right by after thinking it was a discarded plastic whiffle ball. Another after I had a mental diatribe against humanity for throwing their trash - in this case a white football helmet - in the woods.

For some reason my mind jumps to lost/discarded sporting equipment while Dave sees them for what they really are: delicious giant puffball mushrooms.

Sliced and sauteed, marinated and grilled, breaded and baked or fried, cubed like tofu or paneer cheese, this is a very versatile mushroom.

Puffball Parmesan comes to mind…as does a vegan palak “paneer” (an Indian dish made with spinach and cubes of cheese, in this case the cheese would be the puffball cut into cubes.)

Once cut open the inside should be white and marshmallow-like. Smaller puffballs must be cut open and inspected; if you can see the outline of a mushroom inside discard it immediately! Amanita mushroom “eggs” are sometimes misidentified as puffballs, and some of the most deadly mushrooms: the death cap and destroying angel, are amanitas which start out as round white “eggs.”

Once the giant puffball reaches 4 inches in diameter and beyond, you can be certain it is a giant puffball (but it still never hurts to check!)

Remember, if in doubt do not eat wild mushrooms. If you are in Western Pennsylvania the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club is a great resource with weekly walks and monthly meetings that are open to the public. If you’re not in western PA, check the North American Mycological Association for a club near you or more information.

Fall is a great time of year for wild mushrooms!

Happy Hunting!

~ Melissa Sokulski

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Hot-To-Trot “Chicken” Wings (vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free)

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Chicken mushroom

Chicken mushroom

Chicken wings were a big part of my teenage years. Even though Syracuse, New York is not Buffalo, my friends and I saw our fair share of hot chicken wings in the 80’s.

I even worked at a fast food chicken joint in the 80’s and learned the secret hot sauce recipe:

  • Hot: 3 parts Tabasco to 1 part butter*
  • Medium: equal parts Tabasco and butter
  • Mild: 1 part Tabasco to 3 parts butter

*now of course Earth Balance or another vegan butter replacement can be substituted to make it vegan

But all that was long lost since going vegetarian in 1987. And though I did not miss the stringy veiny chicken wings, that sauce….oh, that sauce.

Then I started finding vegetarian “chicken” wings made from seitan (wheat gluten) and I was so happy! They were delicious and all I could hope for. Except for the wheat. Since being gluten-free I’ve had to give up those and THOSE I dearly miss.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier, but suddenly this was the year that I thought to use chicken mushroom and try to make those wings. Maybe because I never actually made wings or seitan “wings” myself before (aside from lowering wings into the fryer at the fast food place, then tossing them in a bucket to shake on the sauce. I’ve never deep fried anything in my own home.)

“You can use chicken mushroom in any recipe that calls for chicken,” I’ve seen written and heard said.

And so….

Hot "chicken wings, made with chicken mushroom

Hot "chicken" wings, made with chicken mushroom

Wonderful! Heavenly! Spicy nirvana!

I simply sliced and sauteed the chicken mushroom in olive oil (adding salt), then melted some butter (you can use a vegan butter substitute such as Earth Balance) and mixed in an equal amount of hot sauce (alas, we had no Tobasco at home so I used Frank’s hot sauce), and tossed the mushrooms in the hot sauce at the end of cooking.

This is definitely a keeper.

~ Melissa

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Week 17: Three Kinds of Mushrooms!

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Today is week 17 of the CSF!

In the share this week:

  • puffball mushroom *NEW
  • chanterelle mushroom *NEW
  • chicken mushroom
  • wood sorrel
  • quickweed
  • wild grape leaves

This week we have 3 kinds of edible mushrooms for you to sample: puffball, chanterelles and the chicken mushroom (which you’ve had before.)

Now that it is been raining all kinds of mushrooms are coming up!

Be sure to use caution with wild mushrooms: always cook them first, of course. But beyond that, some people have trouble digesting mushrooms, even well cooked edible ones. So if it’s your first time eating something, just eat a little at first and wait a day to make sure it doesn’t have a bad effect on you.

I would also recommend not mixing the mushrooms if it’s your first time eating any of them. Cook and sample them separately and note any effects.

We also changed up the greens this week just in case you were getting tired of purslane.

This week we have wood sorrel (aka sour grass), which is best to avoid in large quantities if you have kidney stone issues due to it’s higher content of oxalic acid. If you have no issues enjoy this green in salads or as garnish on dishes. It’s tart and delicious.

We also have quickweed, which is an abundant green right now. It has a bit of an earthy taste. You can enjoy it fresh or cooked, see what you like. Use it as you would any green, like spinach.

Finally we have more grape leaves. We tried to pick nice tender ones for you today! Cook them first before using: boil/simmer them at least 15 minutes to soften. Then they will roll nicely and become less chewy. To preserve, place in salted water (I did not cook the ones I am preserving, but you can blanche them first) and keep them in the water in the fridge.

Thanks and enjoy!!

Melissa

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CSF Week 15

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Cornelian Cherries

Cornelian Cherries

Qu’est-ce une semaine excitante! Aujourd’hui, nous avons deux nouvelles gourmandises: cerises cornaline et pleurotes.

Oops, was I speaking French? (A trick brought to you by google translate!)

We have a great week of treats for you!

Just remember: NEVER EAT WILD MUSHROOMS RAW!!!

This week your share contains oyster mushrooms and they must be cooked before eating.

  • Cornelian Cherries (Cornus Mas) *NEW
  • Oyster mushrooms *NEW *****MAKE SURE TO COOK BEFORE EATING!!!!!*****
  • Staghorn Sumac
  • Purslane
  • Lambs Quarters
  • Wild Grape Leaves

First: Cornelian Cherries

Cornelian Cherry Tree...which isn't a cherry tree at all! It is actually a type of dogwood.

Cornelian Cherry Tree...which isn't a cherry tree at all! It is actually a type of dogwood.

If you taste these when they are still hard you are likely to get all puckered up and you’ll say something like, “Holy moly, these things are TART!!!” And they are. And super astringent. They need to ripen off the tree. Once they are soft they will become sweet, juicy and delicious.

Like other wild mushrooms, the oyster mushrooms must be cooked before eating. You may be familiar with these wild mushrooms because they do often sell these at health food stores or gourmet grocery stores. Simply slice and saute…you can use them in place of button mushrooms in any cooked recipe.

Enjoy your share this week!!

~ Melissa

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Vegan Chicken Mushroom Fricassee (With Cashew Cream Sauce)

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Vegan (and gluten free) chicken mushroom fricassee with cashew cream sauce

Vegan (and gluten free) chicken mushroom fricassee with cashew cream sauce

Here is a delicious recipe using the wild Chicken Mushroom, or Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulfureus). This is one of my favorite wild mushrooms. It tastes delicious once cooked (it must always be cooked!) and is fun to find. Bright yellow/orange, this shelf mushroom grows on dead wood (occasionally you’ll find it growing on live wood). It has no gills on its underside - this is very important! A gilled yellow mushroom growing on wood could be the poisonous Jack O’Lantern. The Chicken mushroom is a polypore, so its underside is made up of very tiny pores which you would actually need a magnifying glass to see. Just make sure there are no gills!

Chicken mushroom/Sulfur Shelf

Chicken mushroom/Sulfur Shelf

As I was “plating” this recipe for photographing, the word “fricassee” popped into my head. I wanted to call it “Chicken Mushroom Fricassee,” but truth be told, I wasn’t 100% sure what “fricassee” meant. So I looked it up and here is what it said on wikipedia:

Fricassee is a catch-all term used to describe a stewed dish typically made with poultry, but other types of white meat can be substituted. It is cut into pieces and then stewed in gravy, which is then thickened with butter and cream or milk (see white gravy). It often includes other ingredients and vegetables.”

So in a way: perfect! (and in another way…I replaced chicken with chicken mushroom, and my butter/cream gravy is made with cashew cream, making the whole recipe vegan and gluten-free, and my “white” gravy was orange due to the carrot…so again, perfect! ;-) )

Cashew Cream sauce

  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 - 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp onion
  • 1 carrot (optional, it will turn sauce orange)
  • 1/2 tomato
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp wheat-free tamari
  • water to cover, and possibly more if needed as blending, should end up being a thick sauce
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, adds a bit of cheesy flavor)

Blend all ingredients in vitamix or high powered blender until smooth.

Other ingredients:

  • chicken mushroom, sliced (as much as you want and can find!) we used about a pound or so
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp olive oil (to saute onion and mushroom)
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • pinch cayenne (optional)
  • extra water if necessary
  • extra gluten free tamari if necessary

Saute sliced chicken mushroom and onion in olive oil for at least 15 minutes, adding water to steam if pan becomes too dry.

Add cashew cream sauce, mix and heat through. Add spices. Sauce will thicken, add more water and/or tamari (for saltiness) if necessary. If you’ve added more water continue to mix and heat until sauce regains thick consistency.

chicken mushroom fricassee, still in the pan

chicken mushroom fricassee, still in the pan

Serve over brown rice or noodles.

Very yum!!!

~ Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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Week 12 Community Supported Foraging

CSF Newsletters, General Posts
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Chicken mushroom/Sulfur Shelf

Chicken mushroom/Sulfur Shelf

What an exciting share we have for you this week!! (Do I say that every week??)

Even though it has been dryer than dry here in Western PA, Dave and his eagle eyes spotted some young fresh chicken mushroom for you! We also have some other amazing things this week:

  • Chicken Mushroom *NEW
  • Sassafras saplings *NEW
  • Staghorn Sumac *NEW
  • Purslane
  • Lambs Quarters
  • Day Lily Buds

Holy Amazing Batman!! (Yes, the new batman movie was filmed in Pittsburgh! Warning - this links to a violent/intense trailer…Batman isn’t the lovable character he once was! But Hines Ward is in this trailer.)

Like most wild mushrooms, The Chicken Mushroom MUST BE COOKED BEFORE EATING!!

In general, you can use it in place of chicken in any recipe. I like to chop it, saute it in butter, and eat it with eggs. Or make “chicken salad” with it, by taking the chopped cooked pieces of the mushroom as I would chopped cooked chicken, and mix with mayonnaise, celery, onion, and mustard.

Here is a recipe for Chicken Mushroom Satay from The 3 Foragers that I am extremely eager to try!

Always remember to use caution when trying any new food, but especially mushrooms (they have complex proteins that may be entirely new for your body to digest). Sample a little (cooked!!) at first and make sure you feel ok. This is always a good rule to follow for any new food.

Wildman Steve Brill also has some great information and recipes for Chicken Mushroom, check him out. Here is his video about chicken mushroom - very informative!

Sassafras sapling

Sassafras sapling

The sassafras sapling makes a delicious tea - just boiled in water. You can boil the whole small sapling: roots, stem, leaves and all.  You can decide whether you want to sweeten it with honey or not.

red berry cluster of staghorn sumac

red berry cluster of staghorn sumac

The last new ingredient, staghorn sumac, also makes an excellent drink. Just soak the entire “blossom” in cold water overnight, and you will have a lemony, vitamin C-rich drink akin to lemonade. Again, you may want to sweeten it or enjoy as is.  Here I take you through how to make this sumac-ade,  step by step. You can also dry the red “berries” and then use them as a lemony spice (used in Middle Eastern cooking.)

The purslane and lambsquarters give you excellent greens to work with again this week. Again we must thank Erin for the amazing purslane! Her urban homestead is for sale!! If you want to have too much purslane to know what to do with - and end up calling me to get some ;-) Check out their incredibly beautiful property, right across the street from Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery.

The lambs quarters stalk is getting thick, so I recommend just using the leaves at this point. They can be eaten raw or cooked - use just like spinach.

And this may be your last week for day lily buds, so enjoy them fully! If you’ve had your fill for now, simply dehydrate the buds and use them later in soups. It’s what they do in Asia and it adds a great flavor!

Sauteed chicken mushroom and day lily buds with onions and garlic over basmati rice

Sauteed chicken mushroom and day lily buds with onions and garlic over basmati rice

This morning I sauteed the chicken mushroom in a little butter, then added onion and garlic and a handful of day lily buds (which only need a quick saute), some gluten-free tamari and mirin and served over a bed of brown basmati rice. Yummmm!

Lots of love,

Melissa

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