My grandmother and mother were originally Karelians who moved to other parts of Finland as evacuees. Karelian and Russian people have always used mushrooms as a part of their diet, and the evacuees brought this delicacy to the Finnish kitchens – although they were met with quite a lot of prejudice, after all were you REALLY going to eat food meant for cows?
Ever since her childhood my mother had enjoyed mushrooms, and my father was always eager to wander in the woods collecting them, us children on the other hand, we were forced to eat dishes made from these disgusting things. The four of us couldn’t stand them, but the severe discipline in our home didn’t leave us any choice…these are truly dreadful childhood memories.
Times have changed though and these days mushrooms taste great
The situation is quite different now of course, and mushrooms are regarded as one of the most fancy foods in the world. All those delicious risottos, chutneys, soups, salads, casseroles… I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!
Already as a teenager I used to walk in the woods with my father, and at that time I knew pretty much most of the edible mushrooms. The years have passed though, and I really haven’t had the time to do that anymore, or I’ve simply been too lazy. Obviously if I were to go now I would only pick the ones I know for certain – milk caps, brittles, boletes, chanterelles, sheep polypores and tooth funguses – but still more than enough to get a good catch.
My wonderful sister picking mushrooms
I am fortunate enough to have a younger sister who loves to walk in the woods, much like my father did, and not even her MS disease has managed to discourage her from collecting mushrooms. No terrain is too rough, and as she put it – “if I fall every now and then it just gives me a better chance at spotting those elusive mushrooms hiding in the undergrowth.”
My sister salts all woolly milk caps, northern milk caps as well as all the other milk caps and brittles. Curry milk caps, funnel chanterelles, gypsy mushrooms and all kinds of boletes she dries, while some chanterelles, boletes and gypsy mushrooms will also be frozen.
If it has been a good year (warm and somewhat rainy summer and autumn) the mushroom catch can be enormous, up to 250 kilos, but as my sister says: “ No two Autumns are alike, one year you get a good catch, but then the next will only bring you a few kilos, which is why it is always nice to have some stored away.”
How to preserve?
When it comes to preserving mushrooms you can do so by salting, drying or freezing them, just like my sister does.
Cut the mushrooms, but not in too small pieces, and then boil them for about ten minutes. Drain them and cover the bottom of the box used for storage with sea salt. Put about 2-3 cm of mushrooms on the salt bed and press them very tightly, before you add another layer of salt. Then you add 2-3 cm more of mushrooms and repeat the procedure. Once the box is full you finish with a layer of salt..
Clean up the boletes, gypsy mushrooms or sheep polypores and cut them in about 1 millimetre slices and pile up to the grates of the dryer. Funnel chanterelles are fine by cutting them in two pieces. The time of drying depends highly of the machine used, but the mushrooms are ready for storage when they are crispy dry.
Preserve the dried mushroom in glass pots, in dry place and protected of light. They will be edible for years.
All mushrooms that do not require being boiled can be stored by freezing them. Just cut them in suitably large pieces and bake them in a baking pan to get the extra moisture out. Freeze them in portion sized boxes or plastic bags, and then you can defrost them as the need occurs.
What in earth is growing in our yard!
In the summer of 2016 I found some very odd looking mushrooms growing in my peony bench. I send a photo to my sister and she told me that they are parasol mushrooms or shaggy parasols, the only difference between those two is a wattle round the parasol mushrooms’ foot, but both are perfectly safe.
Nevertheless I thought they looked very dangerous and I didn’t dare pick them. Moreover, I read from the net that some people can feel sick after eating shaggy parasols, which was more than enough to make me feel ill just thinking about tasting them
There they are growing again, in my peony bench. I’m not going to pick them. I’m not going to eat them either, at least not until I have somebody else eat them first and not die in the process.