Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Magical Mushrooms

Freshly picked Saffron Milkcaps
Wild mushroom foraging must be the most magical way to spend a Sunday! There is nothing more culinarily exciting than collecting wild food and cooking and eating it. If it wasn't for some generous Polish family friends I would never have been game to collect the amazing mushroom species Lactarius deliciosus known as Saffron Milkcap which were indeed deliciosus!
After a short lesson from our experienced mushrooming guides we set off to uncover these little treasures hiding amongst the pine needles. I learnt that if you find fungi that looks perfect and nothing has eaten it then it is probably very poisonous. I was pleased to find plenty of slugs and bugs around our Saffron Milkcaps.
Lactarius deliciosus in the forest
The weather has been perfect this early Autumn for fungi to grow with heavy rain and then a week of sunshine. There was a fabulous display of differrent types of toadstools and mushrooms. I'm sure it was a haven for many fairies, elves, gnomes and wee folk.
Where the gnomes live
Of course we enjoyed a little camp fire and a barbecue lunch, which meant tasting the mushrooms in their natural environment. Subtle, satisfying, fleshy and delicately coloured are the descriptions that spring to mind. The rest of the mushrooms made it home to be bottled for another day.
Bush lunch.
Marinated Mushrooms

Collect Saffron milkcaps as small as possible. Slice mushrooms if required to fit into jars. Blanche for 3-5 minutes in boiling water. Bring to boil in a separate pot vinegar, salt, clove, allspice, pepper, cinnamon and sliced onion (all to taste). Place mushrooms in jars and pour hot marinade over them to cover and seal immediately.
Marinated and bottled mushrooms

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