Cooking Late-Harvest Mushrooms

This summer has been a crazy one. So crazy, that I didn’t have the chance to get out mushroom hunting until just this last week! However, thanks to my kind family encouraging me to take some time off and get in the woods, I went out mushroom hunting with my father.

He shared his new hunting grounds with me and the results were YUGE:

Some giant hedgehog mushrooms.

Some giant hedgehog mushrooms.

My haul of golden chanterelles, hedgehogs, and angel wings

My haul of golden chanterelles, hedgehogs, and winter chanterelles

A patch of angel wings.

A patch of angel wings.

This has been a banner year for mushrooms in Southeast Alaska and even now in October you can still harvest beautiful specimens

With late harvest mushrooms like these, picked in our gorgeous rainforest, it becomes especially important to address the fact that these mushrooms are w-e-t. I was recently at a dinner party where a friend brought some foraged hedgehogs, a supremely generous share, but one that was undermined by the fact that the mushrooms weren’t cooked in a way that dealt with this same issue.

And it is SUPER simple.

Dry Saute

  • Clean your gorgeous haul.
  • Slice or tear your mushrooms into a uniform size.
  • Place a wide flat saute pan (or cast iron) on a burner with NOTHING in it (no oil, no butter, no water, no broth, no seasoning, no other veggies – nothing). Your saute pan should be large enough that you can cook your mushrooms in a single layer where each piece also has a little room around it.
  • Turn your burner up to medium high heat.
  • Once hot, throw your mushrooms in. You may have to do a couple of batches to ensure your mushrooms don’t get overcrowded.
  • Stir them around.
  • Be amazed at the amount of water that comes out of your mushrooms!
  • Once the liquid appears to have either evaporated or reabsorbed (about 4-5 min) and the mushrooms have started to brown, you’re done!

You can either start another batch, or move on to whatever use you’re going to put your mushrooms to.  I dry sautee before every single use except for drying: pickling, stir frys, soups, etc.

At this point you can even scoop up your dry-sauteed mushrooms and vacuum seal them and freeze them in a lovely little packet that will be perfect for any of your mid-winter recipes. This is an especially good way to preserve hedgehogs and chanterelles which don’t dry well. Hot tip: if you’re going to freeze your mushrooms for later use in recipes, be sure to weigh them before you cook them so you can write down the fresh weight on your frozen packets (which is typically the measurement used for mushrooms in recipes).

One of the best ways to taste your mushrooms? Dry saute, and once the liquid disappears, let your mushrooms brown and then throw in a pat of butter and some seasoning. A perfect simple side to any dish.

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