Mushrooms Guide, at the market, exotic and wild

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With this mushroom guide I wish to share with you the fruit of my experiences and my culinary discoveries with many kinds of mushrooms.This article includes mushrooms recipes you will certainly want to indulge.

At the market

Not a too long time ago, we knew almost only the white and brown button mushrooms that belongs to the same family of mushroom. They are often referred as Paris mushrooms in recipes and at some groceries.

Nowadays, many more varieties of mushrooms are available. We can now have the pleasure to explore the multiples flavors of fresh or dehydrated exotics mushrooms such as the oyster mushroom, the morels, the enokitake, portobelle and shiitake to name a few. Sometimes it takes a small amount to enhance a dish in a fine dining meal.

In the Nature

Walking in the forest, the fields or the lawn to search wild mushrooms make on feels as if he is hunting treasures for gourmets. The best and most secure way to learn how to identify wild mushrooms is to join a Mycological Society. My husband and I have learned how to identify with the Cercle des mycologues de Montréal. We had lots of pleasure  attending 4 series of mycological courses as well as participating at many outings guided by the experts of the society. Wild mushroom hunting should taken seriously, each year, there are imprudent hunters who must be hospitalized because they were poisened by their lack of mycological knowledge.  Based on what the market has to offer it is possible to buy fresh wild mushrooms at specialty fruits and vegetables groceries. To find Quebec mycological societies, click on this Montreal Society link.

Nutritive value and conservation

The mushroom contain protein, iron as well as mineral salts. It is a nutritive ingredient with few calories. Store mushrooms in the refrigerator in a rigid plastic container, covered with wax paper and a rubber band to hold it. Punch a few holes in the paper for aeration. If in a rush, punch holes in the plastic wrap of the market package. The idea is to prevent surplus of humidity to slow  deterioration. A brown paper bag is also a good way to preserve mushrooms.

Cleaning

Unless mushrooms are covered with soil, it is preferable not to wash them.  Wipe them with a paper towel or a brush with soft bristles. If they are to be washed, immerge them in a large amount of cold water, rub them with your hands and sponge them immediately with paper towels. If your mushrooms begin to spoil,  with small brown spots on the cap, peel them with a small paring knife starting at the edge of the cap. This is an easy task as you will see in my video.

Drying

The mushrooms that are best suited for drying are boletus,marasmius oreades (fairy rings) and morels. They can be dried using a dehydrator or placed on a clean mosquito net placed in front of a sunny window. If you want to dry them outside place them between two mosquito nets to prevent insects from getting on the mushrooms. They are sufficiently dried when they feel dry to the touch. Drying can take a few hours to more than a day. Once dried, the mushrooms are placed in uncovered jars and heated in the oven at 65 ° C (150 ° F) for 20 minutes. When heating is done, close with the lids while they are still hot. The boletus including cep are thinly sliced , the morels cut lengthwise in half while the marasmus oreades are dried whole without stem.

To use, cover the mushrooms with plenty of tap water and let rest a few hours at room temperature or a day in the refrigerator. Drain well to remove excess soaking water. To speed up the process, hot water is poured over the mushrooms and left to rest for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.

In general, dried mushrooms are 10 times lighter than fresh mushrooms; so for 1 pound (400g) of fresh mushrooms it will suffice to substitute 2 oz (40 g) of dried. The flavor of a dried species is a little different and most of the time more intense than if it is fresh. Use soaking water sparingly as it gives a very pronounced taste to cooked dishes.

 

Cooking with Mushroom

Coq au vin
Coq au vin

In general, dried mushrooms are 10 times lighter than fresh mushrooms; so for 1 pound (400g) of fresh mushrooms it will suffice to substitute 2 oz (40 g) of dried. The flavor of a dried species is a little different and most of the time more intense than if it is fresh. Use soaking water sparingly as it gives a very pronounced taste to cooked dishes.


The mushrooms are cooked in soup, salad,marinated, sautéed and grilled. For maximum flavor, it is best to sauté the mushrooms before adding them to a saucepan such as beef bourguignon or coq au vin. When the mushrooms are sautéed in the skillet, they are watery after a few minutes and one should continue cooking until they are golden and express all their fragrances. Dried mushrooms are steeped in lukewarm water, wine or broth for at least 2 hours. A small amount of soaking water can be used for cooking.

At the Market

Enokitake: delicious to garnish salads and consommé

Shitake: this mushroom is good with Asian dishes

Oyster mushroom: delicate mushroom that is cooked over low heat. Pairs well with veal and chicken. They can be frozen by sauté them and stop the cooking when they are watery.

Portobello: from the same family as Paris mushrooms, delicious grilled or stuffed.

 

Wild Mushrooms

Good practice

You must never eat a wild raw mushroom. It should cook for 8 to 10 minutes before being consumed. I always prefer freezing rather than drying when possible; in general, the taste of a frozen mushroom is more delicate than if it has been dried. When our picking is very successful, we dry some to make a reserve for the worst years.

Boletus: the cep belongs to this family, pairs well with meats, Italian dishes, garlic and are good marinated. Can be frozen without blanching and can also be dried.

Chanterelle: goes well with eggs, salmon, trout, veal and beef. Freezes well when sautéed until they become watery. Drying is not suitable because they take on a rubbery texture.

Fairy Ring mushroom: delicious with pasta, fish, poultry and cream soup and can also be dried.

Morel: Combines well with poultry, veal, potatoes and pasta. Can be frozen fresh without blanching and can also be dried.

Hedgehog mushroom: pairs well with eggs, pork, poultry and one of the best marinated. Freezes well when sautéed until they become watery.

Oyster mushroom: pairs well with poultry, veal, pasta, Asian cuisine, roasted to garnish lettuce salad and cream soup. Can be frozen fresh without blanching and can also be dried.

Ceps (boletus family)

Chanterelles

Morels

Wild Mushrooms

Good Practice

You must never eat a wild raw mushroom. It should cook for 8 to 10 minutes before being consumed. I always prefer freezing rather than drying when possible; in general, the taste of a frozen mushroom is more delicate than if it has been dried. When our picking is very successful, we dry some to make a reserve for the worst years.

Boletus: the cep belongs to this family, pairs well with meats, Italian dishes, garlic and are good marinated. Can be frozen without blanching and can also be dried.

Chanterelle: goes well with eggs, salmon, trout, veal and beef. Freezes well when sautéed until they become watery. Drying is not suitable because they take on a rubbery texture.

Fairy Ring mushroom: delicious with pasta, fish, poultry and cream soup and can also be dried.

Morel: Combines well with poultry, veal, potatoes and pasta. Can be frozen fresh without blanching and can also be dried.

Hedgehog mushroom: pairs well with eggs, pork, poultry and one of the best marinated. Freezes well when sautéed until they become watery.

Oyster mushroom: pairs well with poultry, veal, pasta, Asian cuisine, roasted to garnish lettuce salad and cream soup. Can be frozen fresh without blanching and can also be dried.

Some of my favorites cookbooks for wild mushrooms

At the Restaurant

You can continue the gastronomic discovery of wild mushrooms with a reservation at Les Jardins Sauvages located in Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan in Lanaudière, Quebec. Every fall, my friend and chef Nancy Hinton prepares a wild mushroom gourmet menu of several services.

Shopping

MycoBoutique is an online shop with a storefront where you can buy mushrooms, books, clothes, mushroom-related items, etc.

 

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