As reported in earlier posts, the Pacific Northwest’s fall mushroom season has been a boon to recreational pickers this year. Kings, matsutake, chanterelles, sparassis, and others are fruiting in big numbers, and such abundance encourages us to get creative with how we stock the larder.
Most years I’ll sauté and freeze more than enough chanterelles, to name but one variety, to get me through the rest of the year. This season I’m taking it a bit further. I’m dehydrating and powdering the mushrooms to make a Chanterelle Spice Rub, and I’m also pickling them.
Here’s a very simple way to pickle chanties. The key is to get as much moisture out of the mushrooms before pickling so that they can then be bathed in liquid later. This makes for flavorful mushrooms with good texture. You can use any sort of vinegar, but cider vinegar complements the hints of stone fruit in chanterelles, while the addition of water insures that the mushroom’s delicate flavor isn’t overpowered.
2 lbs chanterelles
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp kosher salt, plus a pinch
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp pickling spices *
* I used a commercial pickling blend that included black peppercorns, allspice, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaf, red chili pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mace, and cardamon. An equivalent amount of black peppercorns, allspice, and coriander seeds is fine, plus a bay leaf.
1. Use button chanterelles if possible. Clean carefully. Keep small mushrooms whole; cut larger ones in half or quarters.
2. Heat a deep sauté pan over medium without oil or butter. Add chanterelles and stir immediately, continuing to stir at an easy pace until the mushrooms begin to release their water. Increase the heat to high and continue to stir until most of the water has evaporated. Sprinkle a healthy pinch of salt over the chanterelles and reduce heat again to medium.
3. Add vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and pickling spices. Simmer 5 minutes.
4. Use a slotted spoon to pack mushrooms into sterilized jars. Pour liquid and spices over to cover, with a quarter-inch of head room. Top off with more vinegar if necessary.
5. Seal jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.