Chanterelle preservation methods

The chanterelle season is upon us and the forest floor under the oaken canopy is littered with orange gems of nutritions goodness. Which is why I haven’t blogged in so long – between writing and editing, I accompanied my beloved into the vast and generous forests to collect kisses, mosquito bites, and generous baskets of chanterelles. He was kind enough to write an article for the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club, where he shares his culinary experience in long-term preservation methods. We are sharing it here, because the perishable mushrooms will not wait for the next newsletter’s publishing date. 

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Preserving Chanterelles

Contributed by Scott Pavelle

We have two go-to methods to preserve gilled mushrooms and boletes: Dehydrating and cooking them down to a Duxelles.  Neither works for chanterelles.

Dehydrating: DON’T DO IT. Chanterelles shrink down well enough, but they don’t cooperate when you try to restore them. However long you soak them, dried chanterelles stay rubbery.

Duxelles: DON’T WASTE YOUR MUSHROOMS. Duxelles is a mix of chopped mushrooms and chopped shallots (usually about 2:1 by volume), cooked down in butter or oil to a superbly flavorful goo and then frozen in small bags for future use. Half the corpus of classic mushroom recipes starts with a good Duxelles; everything from soups to sauces to fillings for omelets and sausage meat. Duxelles is goooood stuff!

Unfortunately, chanterelles’ are prized even more for their texture than they are for flavor. That’s why the first thing chefs think of when you mention this mushroom is some kind of risotto or stuffing laced with big, toothsome chunks. It’s a pairing made in heaven, and it’s completely lost if you’ve chopped the chanterelles up. Besides, as great as they are for texture, chanterelles have a delicate flavor that doesn’t make as good a Duxelles as agarics or boletes.

Sautéing: WORKS GREAT BUT ONLY FOR SMALL BATCHES. It’s a simple idea. If the problem comes from chopping the chanterelles too fine, why not leave them in those big, toothsome chunks you want and then sauté them with shallots just like you would if you were making a Duxelles? The answer is: go right ahead! There is a slight timing issue because you have to cook the mushrooms longer than the alliums, but that’s easy to solve. A recipe follows.

Oven Roasting: HOW TO ‘SAUTÉ’ A 5-POUND BATCH. This is really nothing more than mushrooms “sautéed” in a hot oven instead of using the stovetop – which allows you to use a great, big baking sheet or roasting pan instead of a moderate-sized skillet. When you’re facing the choice of five individual batches on a pan or one giant batch in the oven, you’ll go for the oven every time! Again, a recipe follows.

 “Dry-Frying”: HOW TO SOLVE THE ‘DIRTY MUSHROOM’ PROBLEM. This is the simplest of all methods. Wash the dirt off your mushrooms and then place them in a nonstick skillet with a bit of salt. Cover with a lid and put the temperature to high. Remove the lid after 3 minutes. You now have half-sized pieces of chanterelle sitting in a puddle of the water they gave off. Continue to cook until the liquid disappears, then cool, bag, and freeze.

Dry-frying is a favorite approach for some of the club’s best cooks, but as a general rule we prefer the flavor we get from the other methods. But there is one exception. Dry-frying is the perfect solution for the common problem of chanterelles with so much embedded dirt that it’s impossible to cook them without thorough and repeated soaking. The leftover water from cleaning can interfere with both sautéing and oven roasting, but it makes zero difference to dry-frying. So that’s when we turn to this technique. A recipe follows, which includes our favorite trick for cleaning the pan when your done.

Freeze, but only in a block of ice. IT’S BULKY BUT IT WORKS. We have a big deep-freeze and we love to use it. And that’s how we found out the hard way that chanterelles frozen in a zip-top bag will come out with a serious case of freezer burn. It works for Chicken- and Hen-of-the-Woods, but not for chanterelles. But there is a solution!

For whatever reason, chanterelles don’t get waterlogged. This trait means you can freeze them in a block of ice and they’ll come out almost as good as new. Simply fill a zip-top freezer bag with fresh chanterelles, top the bag off with water, and freeze. The “recipe” follows, such as it is.

Chanterelle Confit. THE TRUE EQUIVALENT TO A GOOD DUXELLES, THIS IS HOW WE PROCESS HALF OUR ANNUAL HAUL. I said above that chanterelles don’t work as well for the cook-it-down-to-godly-goo approach. And that’s true … most of the time. The exception comes if you spend the time to cook them down forever with a series of augmenting ingredients like apricots, sherry and a nice, flavorful stock. Take the time to do that and you’ll have an ingredient that’s totally different from Duxelles in flavor, but every bit as useful in all the same ways. The recipe follows.

Pickling. I’M SURE IT WORKS, BUT WHY BOTHER? We pickle a lot of chicken mushrooms but it seems like a waste to do it with chanterelles. Their flavor is so subtle that you’d think a pickle would overwhelm them. Still, the texture is right and there are people on-line who swear that they couldn’t live without a pantry full of the stuff. If you’re one of them, please share a few to see if we can be converted. I’d love to have a new recipe to include in an updated version of this article, especially since it would be stored on a shelf instead of in the freezer.

Canning and Jarring. HAVEN’T TRIED IT. Once again, please let us know if you’ve had success.

THE RECIPES

Sautéed and Oven-Roasted Chanterelles

I’ve set this at a quarter-pound, but you can easily double the amounts if your pan is big enough. Just don’t get things too crowded. FYI, if you don’t have shallots, substitute a combination of onion and garlic at a ratio of ≈ 1 small onion to 1 medium clove of garlic.

¼ lb. fresh, well-cleaned chanterelles, cut into large, 1”-1½” chunks (big bite size)

1 tbsp. oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper to taste

The Sautéed Version (using ¼ lb.)

  1. Melt the butter and oil together over medium-high heat, using a pan big enough to comfortably hold all your mushrooms.
  2. Add the mushrooms and sauté until their water has released and dried up.
  3. Add in the shallots and cook until they’ve passed “clear” and begun to darken.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then turn out the cooked mushrooms into a bowl.

The Oven-Roasted Version (using 2 lbs.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Adjust the recipe by cutting the fat in half (you have 8x as many mushrooms but will use only 4X as much fat, i.e. a total of 4 tbsp.)
  3. If you want to substitute onions and garlic for the shallots, remember that your combined volume wants to be a little less than half of what your mushrooms would be if chopped to a similar size. For what it’s worth, this is exactly the sort of use for which God invented the food processor.
  4. Toss the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and then spread out in an even layer on a sheet pan or other oven-safe container. Roast at 400° for 14-15 minutes, or until the thin edges of your mushrooms start to crisp up and your alliums start to smell a little toasty.

However you cook them, the chanterelles can be eaten now (yum!), or refrigerated for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

“Dry-Fried” Chanterelles

This recipe uses a 1-pound base because crowding the pan is not a problem. The alliums are omitted because they don’t add much when they are simply being boiled like this. NOTE: Step 1 assumes you have dirty mushrooms. If that’s not a problem, don’t waste time with the soaking and rinsing.

1 lb. fresh chanterelles, cut into large, 1”‑1½” chunks (big bite size)

Salt

  1. Put the chanterelles into a mixing bowl large enough to hold them all comfortably. Fill with water and then swish the mushrooms around to release as much dirt as you can. Gently move the mushrooms to a strainer and then empty out the dirty water. Repeat until there is no material amount of silt left at the bottom of your bowl.
  2. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the damp mushrooms to the skillet, sprinkle with salt, and cover with a lid. Cook, covered, for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and behold! You have half-sized chanterelle pieces sitting in a giant puddle. Cook until the liquid disappears.
  4. To Clean The Skillet. This is important! Dry-frying leaves a thin layer on your pan, which could shorten its’ nonstick life if you fail to get it off. Fortunately, it’s easy to do. Just refill the emptied pan with clean water, cover with your lid, and bring to a boil. The layer of goop will dissolve and your pan will be easy to clean.

Turn out the cooked mushrooms into a bowl. You can eat them now (yum!), or refrigerate for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

How to Freeze Chanterelles

Fresh chanterelles, in whatever size you want

  1. Fill a zip-top freezer bag with chanterelles until you can still close it without breaking them.
  2. Using the last ½” of the zipper as a hole, fill the bag entirely. Seal the rest of the way and freeze. Don’t leave large air bubbles, because those will promote freezer burn. The plastic will expand as the water turns to ice.

Chanterelle Confit

Treat this like a chanterelle version of Duxelles. It’s wonderful served as a side dish to roast meat or chicken, a great pasta sauce if you add some cream and herbs, a terrific filling for savory pies or crepes, a delightful way to turn plain veloutés and gravies into something special (try a hit of mustard!), and omelets will die and think they’ve gone to heaven. Once you taste it you’ll think of dozens of other uses too. One recipe makes ≈ 6-8 cups of finished confit, which is enough for several different uses. NOTE: The recipe multiples like a charm. All you need is a pot big enough to juuuuust hold all the ingredients.

1 lb. fresh, well-cleaned chanterelles, cut into rough chunks ≈ ¼”-½” long

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 cups chicken or veggie stock

1 very large Spanish onion, chopped

2 cups dry sherry

1 very small head of garlic, or ≈ 8 cloves from a larger head, chopped

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

¼ cup fat-of-your-choice

Good pinch of hot pepper, thyme, or other herb you like (optional)

4 oz. (¼ lb.) dried apricots, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°.

  1. Put an oven-safe pan or pot big enough to hold all your ingredients over medium-high heat on your stovetop. Add in the chanterelles, onion, garlic, and oil. Sauté until the water comes out, boils off, and the onions are slightly colored from the cooking.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, stir well, and move the pot to your oven.
  3. Cook, uncovered, at 400° or until the liquid has boiled off and your dish is thick and yummy. It takes ≈ 40-60 minutes to finish but you should start checking (and stirring) after about 30.

NOTE: The hot oven will make the chanterelles will brown a bit on top. That’s all to the good, but you don’t want them to actually burn. Hence the occasional stirring.

NOTE 2: You can do all the cooking on the stovetop but in that case you have to stand there and stir occasionally to prevent burning.

TO STORE: Cool completely and then freeze in individual serving-size bags. We like to use smaller, zipper-top “snack” bags, which we combine together into a properly thick, gallon-sized freezer bag. Thicker bags equal less freezer burn.

Variations

This version plays up the sweet and light elements of the chanterelle. We’ve made an earthier version that works just as well by removing the apricots and sugar, and adding ½ tsp. of caraway for every pound of mushrooms. Other variations should work too. This is as much a formula as a recipe.

Cheatin’-Easy Alternate Cooking Method

  1. Throw everything together, cover, and cook at 400° for ≈ 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the cover and cook for ≈ 45 minutes more, stirring every so often as you approach the end. You lose a bit of flavor development but not so much that anyone will ever complain about it.
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8 Responses to Chanterelle preservation methods

  1. Pingback: Edible landscape | SwedishCountryLiving®

  2. Pingback: Chanterelle preservation methods | Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club

  3. Kristin says:

    great article! wish i had found this before i preserved my last haul of chanterelles!

  4. Sally says:

    I used the oven roasted recipe. I’m tossing it all in the garbage. I don’t know what happened but it was so bitter it was inedible. I kept cooking down to eliminate the liquid and it didn’t get any better. I want to blame it on bitter shallots. Boo Hoo. Any ideas about what went wrong? Help.
    Signed, Wanted to love it.

  5. Farmboots says:

    We can our chanterelles every year. They come out moist and retain the texture. The coloring is not the bright orangy-yellow, but otherwise excellent flavor and not a bit mushy. We toss into spaghetti, stews, soups, etc. Directions taken from my Presto Pressure Cannnig Book:

    Wash mushrooms. Trim and cut into whatever size chunks you prefer, leaving small buttons whole. Cover with water in a big pot and boil 5 minutes. Pack hot mushrooms in clean, hot canning jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. For better color, add 1/8 tsp ascorbic acid per pint. (NOTE: We add 1/8 tsp salt instead of the ascorbic acid per pint.) Cover mushrooms in jar with boiling water, leaving 1-inch headpace. Adjust jar lids.

    Process at 11 pounds pressure for half pints and pints for 45 minutes. For processing above 2,000 feet altitude, it is as follows:
    2,001 to 4,000 ft. 12 lbs (pints or quarts)
    4,001 to 6,000 ft. 13 lbs (pints or quarts)
    6,001 to 8,000 ft. 14 lbs. (pints or quarts)

    We’ve found the number of pints you get varies wildly. I think a lot of it depends on the current weather and how much water the chanterelles have in them when picked. We have canned 15 pints off a 5 gallon bucket full and then one week later we canned 16 pints off 10 gallons. We live in western WA State—love those giant chanterelles!

  6. Dylan says:

    I am eating a bowl of California Oak Chanterelle soup right now made with dried Chanterelles picked almost a year ago. They are delicious and only lack the color when fresh, the texture and flavor is terrific. I boiled them in for about 30 min in my broth and then refrigerated the soup over night.

    • katepavelle says:

      Thank you, Dylan! We actually started drying them, too, because freezing them in water turned out to be cumbersome. They really do need to sit and soak it up for a while – an overnight soak such as you describe sounds ideal!

  7. Janice says:

    Glad to have found your article, unfortunately I have already dried most of this years, but next year I’ll definitely be trying your suggestions. Suggestion for dried mushrooms often blend in blender and use for homemade spice mixes or make a blend with flour for coatings on poultry, pork etc.

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