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Unseasonal Mushroom Abundance and a Marinated Saffron Milkcap Recipe

It has been a really strange summer here in my patch of Victoria. Generally very cold and what feels like quite a lot of rain from time to time. For us this has been to the detriment of our tomato harvest. However the benefit of valuing diversity – including in this instance sources of food, is that when one crop does poorly it’s just the right conditions for another to thrive. And right now wild food is where its at!

The wild blackberries have never been juicer and there is a crazy bumper unseasonal (since its really really early) crop of edible mushrooms.

The beautiful Saffron Milkcap (Lactarius deliciosus)

After several kgs of slippy jacks later and the fuss of peeling and dehydrating them I decided i’d now specialise in saffron milkcaps and leave the slipperies in the forest. BTW i’ve previously written a post about identifying these two types of mushrooms here.

Using my hat as a makeshift bag (bags really are the most important foraging tool) when I stumbled upon a large number of slippery jacks on my lunchtime walk at work.

Saffron milkcaps are stunningly beautiful, really delicious (its even in its scientific name: Lactarius deliciosus) and one of the safest mushrooms a newby wild mushroom hunter like myself can reliability identify with no poisonous lookalikes.

One little after-school walk with my kids in a local pine forest later, and we had over 6.5kg of mushrooms. Far too many to eat in one go so I looked for decent recipe to preserve them.

This is an adaptation of a recipe for marinated store bought mushrooms which is shelf stable (here). I generally like to use ‘official’ tested recipes for canning which this is – especially when it involves the use of oil and garlic – two ingredients that are a bit risky to do anything slapdash. Most tested mushroom recipes however explicitly state to not use wild mushrooms. From my research though this is due to a fear of miss-identification and miss-leading people its ok to go pick whatever you find, rather than any fundamental differences in mushroom density etc. Therefore I personally feel comfortable adapting a recipe to saffron milkcaps specifically – and because I know how to identify them. Make sure you do too!

I also changed a lot of the herbs and flavours based on what I had available and personally like the taste of. Since my instagram photo of my canned mushrooms got so many queries about the recipe I thought it was worth writing up here.

If you want to make marinated mushrooms and don’t want to go to the fuss of canning you could also make this recipe and then put it in a jar in the fridge to eat within a week or so. I did this with whatever mushroom mixture was left over once my canner was full (hense the larger jar in the photograph).

Canned Marinated Saffron Milkcaps

Ingredients
3 kg saffron milkcaps cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic quartered
1/4 cup finely chopped capsicum
3 cups white vinegar
500ml olive oil
1 tbs salt
1 tbs chopped rosemary
1 tbs chopped thyme

Method

  1. Put chopped mushrooms in a pot with enough water to cover and lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer for 5mins. Drain liquid but keep mushrooms warm until putting into the jars.
  2. Sterilise and warm jars and lids for canning. You will need to use 1cup size jars. The tested recipe this is adapted for specifies it hasn’t been tested with anything bigger or smaller. Its easiest in this instance to do this in the pot you are going to do your canning so the water is hot and ready right away.
  3. In another pot put oil, vinegar, herbs, salt, capsicum and onion. NOT THE GARLIC. Bring to a boil.
  4. Fill jars with mushrooms leaving around 2cm of head space. Add one quarter of garlic per jar. Fill with oil mixture and stir to remove air pockets.
  5. Clean jar rims and put on lids. Put in water bath canner (a dedicated canner – I use my presto pressure canner for this or you can use a big stockpot with something put on the base like a cake rack to keep the jars off the bottom).
  6. Make sure there is at least 5cm or so of water above the top of the jars and put on the pot lid. Process your jars for 35mins which will cover you no matter your elevation.
  7. Remove from canner when finished and allow jars to cool. If any jars are not properly sealed after this then store those in the fridge and eat them first.

Just some food safety concerns… Make sure you are 100% sure you have saffron milkcaps (or store bought mushrooms) if you are using this recipe. Never eat any mushrooms you are unsure of. Don’t rely on strangers on the internet including myself to identify mushrooms for you that you plan to eat.

It is also not safe to add any more garlic than the prescribed 1/4 of a clove per 250ml jar as garlic is a higher risk food. Same goes for the onion and capsicum which are low acid foods although you can replace the amount of capsicum for chilli or have half and half. The processing times are also specifically for 250ml jars. The original tested recipe from which this is based said no testing had been done to determine processing times for any larger jars – so just stick with the 250ml size to be safe unless you plan to not can it and keep it in the fridge instead.