Pickled Wild Mushrooms (Chicken of the Woods)

in #homesteading5 years ago (edited)

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Here we have Laetiporus cincinnatus (a species of wild chicken of the woods). This is such an amazing mushroom. It’s gorgeous, incredibly nutritious, and best yet…tastes just like chicken. I’ll get into the nutrition side in another post as well as proper identification. Right now let’s talk about how freaking huge these things can be. Seriously, 8-15 lbs of mushrooms at one time is no laughing matter…well, maybe. Like hysterically laughing with glee or something like that is completely acceptable. Drawback…what do you do with that much mushroom?

Well, there’s the obvious first answer…share that chicken. If you’re a frugal family like us though or another broke joke like the rest of us then you may want to consider ‘putting it back’. You can dry it but it just doesn’t do it justice. You could freeze it temporarily but make sure you have room in the freezer for deer. My favorite is pickled. It’s fairly quick, incredibly tasty and will be a special treat when you are dreaming of warmer weather. It is great eaten with salads, as a side dish, appetizer, garnish or just sneak a bite out of the jar before bed for some fun dreams.

I first tried pickled chicken of the woods over 15 years ago. A friend from up north had his mother send him a jar of pickled chicken of the woods. I was hesitant at the time but gave it a try and was dumbfounded by how good it was. This began my love with this chicken and ways to prepare and preserve it. I scoured the internet for years searching for a recipe that looked similar to what I had tasted but never could find it. Finally decided it was time to start experimenting. I’ve settled for now on this one and am very please with the flavor, texture, and ease of it all. Give a whirl and let me know what you think!! In fact, make this then make it again using your favorite herb blends and post to share here in the comments!

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First, I feel the need to remind you…or inform you…that mushrooms are a low acid food. SO don’t skimp on the ingredients that preserve it, specifically the vinegar. I added sugar for a sweeter pickle (nearly bread and butter style but more tangy) and it also helps preserve it. There are recipes on the internet I have seen that look yummy EXCEPT for the fact that it is obviously lower acid and therefore will have a very limited shelf life. Be safe.

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I pulled out old trusty Blue Ball Book of Preserving to peruse the brines and refresh myself on acids, sugars, salts when it comes to preserving. You could do a ‘fresh pack’ pickle with these mushrooms but I do prefer to boil, dump/strain, and bring to boil in brine. This does two things, the first is explained below. The second is that hot packing vs. cold packing means you can enjoy it faster. Some vegetables I refuse to hot pack as I don’t want to kill part of the nutritional goodness but with these yummies why wait? Here’s where I was left happy and hungry.

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Before I get into the recipe I do need to let you know that a small portion of the population can be sensitive to chicken of the woods…well any mushroom really. I have heard of some people experiencing GI issues but it may be because they just ate so much because it’s so good. As with ANY mushroom, make sure when you eat them to cook them thoroughly, even conventional button mushrooms should never be eaten raw. If you tend to have issues digesting mushrooms then I’d recommend to boil and dump the water twice from these mushrooms to help aid in digestion. You can just cook them in the brine and let the acid do it’s thing but nothing wrong in taking precautions in case you decide to share with someone who may be more sensitive than yourself. Boiling twice adds about 20 minutes to the process….your call if you go that way or not. With that said in our home we boil once unless it is with someone we are introducing

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Onward ho. Now go wash and sanitize your jars to get ready for this goodness!

Ingredients- makes roughly 8 pints
9 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups distilled water
2 cup canning salt
1 cup sugar (we use unrefined)
5-6 lb +/- chicken of the wood or other wild edible mushrooms
4 TBSP mustard seed
2 TBSP celery seed
fresh thyme (1-3 per jar)
2 large onions

First clean your massive mushroom. You need to take your time doing this as you will inevitably find all kinds of things in it that you probably won’t want to find over dinner. Pull or chop the mushroom meat as you go. This will also help you to find all the bugs, grass, twigs, etc that may be embedded or inhabiting your chicken. You can, in fact, pull it raw like you would cooked chicken.

Wash it all. Wash it good. You did get those twigs out right?

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If you opt to boil your chicken prior to pickling do so now.

Now add the apple cider vinegar, distilled water, canning salt and sugar in a pot to begin your brine. Once the salt and sugar has dissolved then add your herbs (not the thyme, hold that for later). Let that cook for a minute then add your onions and mushrooms.

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Let that cook for 10 minutes or so.

Pack your sterilized jars with the mushroom mix and fill with brine leaving 1/4″ headspace. Push a sprig or two or fresh thyme down into the side of the jar. Assemble two piece cap. Process in a boiling hot water bath for 15 minutes. Remove the jars and enjoy that sweet POP of them sealing in all that goodness.

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You can eat these at any time since they are cooked but as with any pickle if you wait a few weeks the flavor will get better and better.

Sit back and observe the pretty yumminess you just created.

Ending rant: Don't go run into the woods and pick the first large orange mushroom you find. If you don't KNOW what you are looking at, then for the sake of all things good just don't pick it and definitely don't eat it!! Use some sense. I'll get into identification and foraging in future posts but will not be held liable for any mistakes on your part just because you read something and think you know it all. There's a lot of misinformation out there about mushrooms so always double check with an expert if you a newbie. This recipe is for individuals who KNOW what they have in hand or for chefs who have acquired these yummies per a trusted forager. Done with my rant now. Enjoy!!

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This kind of post makes me so envious - and also makes me feel like a real dope for not eating my mushroom finds. Recebtly ran into a giant colony of L.sulphureus in the NJ botanical gardens on a dead tree and I took a bunch of pictures and a sample, but in the end left them there! I'm just too anxious a person!

But next time I think i might need to do this recipe! It looks great and my wife loves to pickle things to begin with.

Also, I'm going to send a "welcome to steemit" present in a moment!

Edit: Hopefully that will draw some attention to this post - get the homesteading curie team on it - cause this is cool stuff. :)

@dber thank you! That's super kind of you! :) I could use all the help I can find to get some exposure on here. lol
That's awesome that you found such a nice big flush of L. sulphureus! HOWEVER, be mindful that it is typically illegal to pick/harvest anything from botanical gardens. If you decide to harvest those in the future from the same location I deeply encourage you to ask permission from the park superintendent....also make sure they haven't sprayed fungicide to try to eliminate it. Also, first time eating COTW then I highly recommended doing the boil and dump method just to make sure your tummy doesn't experience any issues. I'm not sensitive but my hubs is...I think it's like 12% of the population or something random like that is sensitive to it. We LOVE our mushrooms round here (both our cultivated varieties and wild!) Feel free to send me pics if you have questions about a species you are considering dining on. I'm always glad to share preparation methods too! Always just look (&admire) if you are questioning a species for edibility. When I was starting out I took species I thought were x, y or z to a mycologist friend at a university for positive identification even though I was confident I was so nervous! Still many species I can ID but have no desire to eat. COTW is not one of them though...those suckers are YUMMY!!!

You and I are gonna get along famously I predict!

So i know all about the potential COTW allergies - and in fact took great caution the one time I did ingest such a find for that reason from a tree in a state park. In general when I have ingested a new wild mushroom i try only a tiny amount, cooked and/or parboiled depending on the species, and then wait for 24hours to see what happens. I also keep the mushrom i ate around for upwards of a week refridgerated out of an excess of caution. (This is only when I am absolutely certain of an ID, through various sources - In the past the NYC mycological society members have been a great resource.)

Regarding the COTW allergy, I've heard some people say the effect may be related not only to individual reactions, but to type of tree the COTW was growing from. Specifically coniferous trees may be more lilely to cause upset.

My wife sometimes wants me to be a little more adventurous with my eating habits, seeing as there are a number of species I feel very confident about, but I've found the experience of even that first well prepared nibble bizarrely nerve wracking, and so I've just stopped altogether.

As for the legality of harvesting, I have heard tell that it may technically be a problem in a number of public places - and of course technically stealing if you take it without permission from private property. For my purposes it is usually not an issue, as I rarely take very much of any given mushroom, and I can say fairly certainly, nobody in the parks I visit rightly cares.

However, I will take your advice to heart should I be driven to harvest, say, that once in a lifetime perfect Lion's Mane or copse of fairy tale quality chanterelles in some state park someday.

I agree in that we will get along great!! Can't wait to see what kind of collaborations we come up with in the future. :-) I'm under the weather today (fall cold--ugh) so forgive my short response. Just checking in before retreating back to the comfort of my bed.

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This is an absolutely beautiful mushroom and I have never seen one in my life! We used to go mushroom foraging when I was a kid. But mushrooms in Germany are very different from here.
Also, I know enough about mushrooms that I know that I don't know enough to go foraging :)
Great post and thank you for sharing!

It truly is a gorgeous mushroom! You are wise not to forage if you do not know the species, there are many dangerous plants and fungi out there. I'm hoping to help close that learning gap a bit here for those that are interested. I have a good friend from Sweden that has shared with me sweet, fond memories of chanterelles and black trumpets (both mushrooms) from her homeland. I try to bring her both a few times a year to share in her childhood memories and always save a batch of chanterelles in the freezer for a traditional european dish at Christmas. Fun food stuff here!! Thanks so much for posting and come back! I just followed you and will be keeping up with you too.

Great that you can bring home memories to your friend.

I know about the dangers of mushrooms only too well. I have a friend who is an experienced forager and she ate something she shouldn't have and she got very sick. It took a very long time to get well again.

It's a real threat, especially with mushrooms. There are many edible species that i feel confident identifying but still won't eat because of the potential look alikes. Certain features don't lie though and i should feel more comfortable than i actually do. I've thankfully never been sick but know others who have.

I always go with the lowest risk model as well. Better safe than sorry.....

I can’t wait to find some chicken of the woods so I can try this! Can you do it with hen of the woods too? I know what you mean about saving room for the deer in the freezer. 😊

Yes you can absolutely pickle hen of the woods too!! That's what I'm keeping my eye out for right now. I've found 4 so far this season but all past prime. :( They went to new oaks but I'm still hoping to find some decent hens soon. They are different in consistency than chicken of the woods but both pickle nicely.

Thanks! I will try that. Right now I am dehydrating and freezing them. I haven’t thawed or rehydrated any yet, but hopefully they will be good.

The texture changes some in the dehydration process but still good. You actually don't even have to dehydrate prior to freezing! I chop, blanch, freeze or boil/dump then freeze. You'd definitely be extending the shelf life by dehydration and freezing tough. When we rehydrate I recommend playing around with different flavored fluids like broths, soy sauce, etc. You can also grind some that is fully dehydrated into a powder to make a broth and use that to rehydrate to really intensify the mushroom flavor. Have fun with it! :-)

Thanks for those tips!

Wow I never know you could pickle mushrooms like this.

I think we have had some chicken of the woods, but I'm going to take a mushroom book out to check carefully before eating it the next time I spot it.

Excellent! The most common mushroom misidentified with chicken of the woods is a berkley polypore but there are definitely some traits that are unmistaken between the two species. I'm glad to see you making sure the ID before consuming. Remember if you have ANY doubt don't eat and seek out a second (or 3rd or 4th lol) from trusted individuals. Feel free to send me images too. :) If you do have a chicken then I highly recommend frying it like chicken. YUMMMM. I'll be posting that recipe soon too. Stay tuned and happy hunting!

Great post! I have been so curious about wild chicken of the woods, since hearing about it a few years back. I hope I am not one of the few who are sensitive to it :) Your recipe looks and sounds yummy. I have been looking for someone in my area who is knowledgeable about mushroom foraging, I would love to have that experience. For now I will live through you, thanks!

haha! Glad I can help! Good that you are holding off until you have someone you can turn to for proper identification. There are certain mushrooms that are sooo easy and others that can kill you if you get a wrong ID. Better to err on the side of caution. Where are you located if you don't mind me asking? The boil and dump (2x's) pretty much should eliminate the sensitivity to it. It's so yummy! This same mushroom featured here in this post was made not just into pickles but also Indian marsala and chicken fried chicken! My tummy is grumbling now, good thing I've got some oyster mushrooms in the fridge my hubby brought home from a walk with the kids. teeheee

I'm glad you make a point of getting all the foreign bodies out of it first. It's not something that's usually mentioned so one might think they've just got a bad pick and throw it rather thing clean it.

Haha, thank you for noticing! I've seen both extremes of the spectrum...some people who just chow down regardless, not caring what is beneath the surface and then there's others who see a twig or a single beetle, freak ou0t and toss it out. It's gotta be pretty bad for us not to try to salvage but there is still a line and we always clean. The mushrooms that are too bad to salvage for food we attempt to innoculate/spawn with (posts coming up on those as I have time too!)

Ewwww! 😂

I would never have thought of inoculation. At some point is love to have a go at mushroom growing.

You should!!!! It's so much fun!

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Wow, those jars look good, totally wish I could give them a taste. And that mushroom is huge! Pretty sure they don't grow where I live. I think the variety of mushroom that you can eat here is pretty slim, so I stick to photographing the wild ones and eating store bought.

@aksounder yes they are sooo good! I'd share if I could! Where are you located? Mushrooms grow just about anywhere that offers at least a semi temperate climate. :)

Alaska. I don't know what edible mushrooms grow here, but I know there are some. I get outdoors and hit the trails a lot and haven't found any massive mushrooms that look like the ones you posted. T would be interesting to learn about though.

I'm not super familiar with Alaska fungi but there is a lady who follows my blog in the 'other world' lol this is in Alaska and a mushroom hunter. I'll pop her a message and see what exactly she hunts...I should try to get her on steemit now that I think about it. haha

This was a really nice post.Definitely going to lookout for your future posts. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you!! It was a fun post for me and experimental in the kitchen. Do please come back. :)

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