These two topics, you see, are totally related. Around the end of summer and early fall, I’m usually scouring the surrounding woods for any signs of frilly golden yellow goodness — especially now that I get to bring them home for my voracious little fungivore. If the haul is not so bountiful, I also start buying up any good deals at the local produce market stalls. A good portion of this goes straight into whatever dishes I’m making for the week (remind me to post that chanterelle and balsamic beef fettucine recipe one day soon) but the rest gets preserved for use throughout the year, when wild mushrooms are not so readily available.
Which is all well and good when you have a sturdy, woody mushroom like a porcini, which I tend to just chop into bite-sized pieces and toss straight into the freezer raw. Those can go straight from frozen into a dish without any problem — just one of their many charms. The little guy and I have a great fondness for water-laden, soft and chewy chanterelles, though, and those would become complete mush if I were to just freeze them straightaway. So after I accumulate a few liters of them (look at the ones I picked earlier this month! aren’t the lovely?), it is time to do a massive dry-sauté-and-freeze session. As you can see in my first photo, the whole rule about not crowding your mushrooms doesn’t really apply here. I heap on as much as will fit in my biggest pan, cleaning and hand-shredding them as I go — because who has the time to get out a knife?
Then I just let them sweat out all that water on medium high. If this were a smaller batch, the juices would mostly evaporate or be absorbed back into the mushrooms and that would be that. In a huge batch like this, though, it’s easier to pour the liquid off to help the process along. Don’t even think about throwing it out, though — that’s valuable mushroom stock for countless recipes! I freeze it in another container right next to the actual mushrooms.
The finished product, ready to be packed away. Look at how much of that water volume has been removed! They already have the meaty texture but are not so cooked that they won’t perform well when tossed into a sauce at a much later date. I honestly can’t say when the use-by date on frozen chanterelles should be, since they are usually gone before the new year anyway.
Bagged into convenient portions, ready for all sorts of yumminess!
What does this all have to do with my increased free time, you ask? Well, I had to do all my gathering and freezing in a rush this year because shortly after these pictures were taken, the little guy and I were off on another one of our California trips, which meant I would miss the rest of mushroom season. It also means that I will probably come back to a terrifying mountain of laundry, as tends to happen when certain significant others are left to their own housekeeping devices for a while. (Let’s see if he even reads that ;-D) But for now, at least, I can try to relax a little and share some of the stuff that I’ve been hoarding away for the past several months, since the opportunity to play catch-up has finally come!