Pickwits

I don’t mind telling you that I am rather impressed with the name that I’ve come up with for this preserve. And I think it deserves this quirky little flourish, for it is a wonderfully decorative preserve, and will brighten up any kitchen that has the good fortune of a wild and adventurous cook at its helm. I have tried a few recipes for pickled mushrooms, but by far my favourite is John Wright’s method in his absolute classic, Mushrooms (2007), and the method below is based on his. You can use any mushroom or mix of mushroom you like for this recipe (so long as they’re not poisonous), but you may have to come up with another name if not using Blewits. Pickwits

Ingredients:

  • Wood Blewits (or any other edible mushroom, really. Whole, small and firm ones work best, but there’s nothing to stop you experimenting with all different shapes and sizes.)
  • Fine sea salt
  • White wine or clear cider vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil (You will need quite a lot, so don’t use a very expensive one. Having said that, the oil will be recyclable as a pleasingly pungent dressing for salads.)
  • Optional extras: Whole spices such as peppercorns or coriander seeds, peeled garlic cloves, whole chillies, bay leaves 

Note: I give no quantities here as you will be judging everything by eye. Now, don’t let this worry you – it’s just that this a very forgiving recipe.

Wood Blewits, cleaned and trimmedMethod

  1. Scrupulously clean your mushrooms and trim off any bits that look at all dubious.
  2. In a non-metalic container, such as a dish or plastic tub, cover all surface areas of your mushrooms with the salt. What you’re aiming for is a thorough sprinkling, rather than a complete burial. Leave for one hour (or longer if you are using whole large mushrooms such as Ceps).Salting Wood Blewits
  3. The salt will have drawn out a surprising amount of liquid from the mushrooms, and the bottom of your container should now have accumulated a pool of mushroomy brine. Pour this away.
  4. Cover the mushrooms in salt once more, leave for another hour, then pour away any more liquid that has been drawn out.
  5. In a saucepan, bring enough vinegar to cover the mushrooms to a simmer. Meanwhile, rinse the mushrooms of any excess salt under a cold tap. This needs to be done quickly so as the mushrooms do not reabsorb any water.
  6. Plunge the mushrooms in the vinegar and simmer gently for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for at least two hours. (Larger mushrooms will need to be left for longer. John Wright writes that they can be left like this for anything up to twenty-four hours, but, although they will keep longer, they will be unpalatably vinegary when the time comes to eat them. My suggestion would be that if you are just making enough for a jar or two using small mushrooms such as Wood Blewits, then two hours in the vinegar is ample.)  

    Salted Wood Blewits

    The extracted juice from the second salting of the Wood Blewits.

  7. Strain your mushrooms and pack them into sterilized jars (see below). At this point you can add any or all of the optional extras from the ingredients list above.
  8. Cover the mushrooms in the oil, tapping and shaking the jar as you go to ensure you leave no air pockets anywhere in the jar. Seal tightly and you’re done. They will keep for at least six months, but probably longer.Pickwits

Pickled Mushrooms are great on the side of almost any salad, and I’ll be saving my Pickwits for a Forager’s Spring Green Salad sometime probably in late April or May (keep watching this blog to find out exactly what I do). Alternatively, and surprisingly I think, I have found that Pickled Mushrooms are excellent on cheese on toast and pizzas. Just lay a few on before you cook – the mild vinegariness is a tongue-tantalizingly sharp contrast to the creaminess of the melted cheese.

 

 

Sterilizing Jars

The way I do this is to completely submerge the jars for a couple of hours in a solution of water and sterilizing tablets that you can pick up very cheaply from the chemist. I then dry them in a very low oven (gas mark ½) for about half an hour. Fill the jars when they are still hot.

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11 Responses to Pickwits

  1. dulce wightman says:

    What a bril idea, could you imagine if it would taste good with honey fungus? As you may know it is a bit rubbery & has to be boiled first, after boiling would the same preperation be appropriate. I can see this working well witn blewits as they are firm & strong flavored, can’t imagine it’s as good with ceps? RSVP pls. Dulce (new forest)

    • I’ve never tried it with the Honey Fungus, but would imagine it would hold up to the pickling treatment – especially since it can be gathered in such large quantities. You may have to experiment to try and find the perfect way to preserve it this way. I would say though that if you do boil them first, then you will definitely have to salt them probably for a little longer – the salt acts as a preservative because it draws out the moisture from the fungus, and bacteria love moisture. As for Ceps – yes definitely works well, though I do prefer the drying method of preservation whenever I’m lucky enough to find more Ceps than I can eat fresh. Having said that, if you happen to find lots of young, small, firm Ceps, then pickling them whole is particularly good. LEt me know how you get on! John

  2. Patricia A says:

    Perfection! Thank you so much for this recipe…. I have happened upon a field of which is producing a wondrous quantity of blewit! I had so hoped to be able to make a ‘pickle’ – though will also try drying some…. wondering if you have tried this??? Am also making that lovely pie you provide the link for – supper tonight will be blue!

  3. doreen fri says:

    Confused… refrigerate after packing or good on the shelf

  4. doreen fri says:

    Perfect… thank you

  5. doreen fri says:

    Zit is a pretty cool name…. I filled two quart jars added all the optional ingredients. Didn’t have quite enough yesterday. So I added to them I hope that will be ok. I would sen you a picture, but do not see a location to attach one… do you have a facebook page I could like?

  6. doreen fri says:

    Gosh …It is a pretty cool name

  7. P.B. says:

    Really appreciate your taking the time to share this. It’s been a really good year for many mushrooms and I’ve easily enough dried ceps for anyones needs so an alternative method for preserving the blue-legs that just appeared is very welcome. Thank You.

    • J P Waldron says:

      Thank you P.B. Your cep hunting has obviously been much more successful than mine this year – not a single one have i found that has been in any sort of state that you might call ‘edible’. So enjoy em!!

  8. Georgina says:

    This is just the recipe I was looking for. A huge, new patch of blewits just feet from our door. Tomorrow will be pickling day 🙂

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