Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Outdoors’ Category

Mushrooms are not everyone’s favorite  food but if you love mushrooms you may have wondered,  ” How can I store them for later?”.  Whether you buy them fresh from the store or a vendor or you pick them like we do, you may find yourself wanting to keep some around for later.

Here in the Pacific Northwest varieties of mushrooms are available about 10 months out of the year but specific varieties may only last for a couple of months.  So I did some research on how to keep them around well past their sometimes limited seasons.

The first place a person may look to keep those fungi from going away to soon is the freezer.  If you plop your favorite shroom into the freezer raw you will be disappointed.  When thawed they will best be described as mush.  Inedible mush at that.  So is the freezer out then?  No!  The mushrooms must be sauteed first.  By cooking them, they can be frozen with acceptable results.  There are other methods that may produce a superior result.

Options for preserving mushrooms:

  • Drying
  • Canning
  • Sauteing then freezing

First, it should be stated that not all species of mushroom can be preserved at all.  For those that are of a very high water content they will not tolerate any of these processes.  An example of a species that can’t be preserved is the Shaggy Mane.  It is an abundant mushroom and easy to distinguish.  It does have one of the highest water contents of any edible mushroom.  Making it  delicate and quick to spoil.  Most edible mushrooms can be preserved, however.  Although results will vary from one type to another.

Drying

Mushrooms being prepared for drying should be sliced into small pieces.  The dryer the mushroom species the larger you can leave the pieces.  Similar to how you would want them as an ingredient in a dish.  For drying you can use a dehydrator.  It should be noted though that in drying mushrooms it is more about air flow and less about heat.  Using the oven for example, even on low heat, is not a good option. You aren’t trying to cook the mushrooms.  In fact in a warm dry environment hanging them out in the sun is a great way to preserve them.

After drying the mushrooms,they should be stored so they can’t draw moisture.  Sealing them in a jar or a bag can work fine.  For the best results I recommend vacuum packing.  There are techniques used with both bags and jars that will give good results.

When it is time to use the mushrooms, you can just add them to a moist dish.  If you are using them alone or adding them to a dry dish placing the mushrooms between two moist towels for a few hours will bring them back to their previous glory.

Canning

The mushrooms whould be sliced into small pieces.  The size is really more about making it easy to handle and pack them.   Some  will cook them first (called hot pack) but I have heard and think canning them raw is the way to go.  The canning process will cook them and cooking mushrooms too mush will harm their texture.  You pack the jar full and add about an inch or so of water. To preserve color add ascorbic acid and I use 1/2 tsp of salt in a pint jar.  It is not recomended that any jar larger than a pint be used.  Put the lids on the jars as you would canning anything else.  Put the jars in the canner with the appropriate amount of water.  They should be cooked for 30 minutes at 10-15 pounds of preasure.

These will last years canned and are ready to add to your favorite recipes.

Freezing

Probably not the best choice but if you want to freeze them make sure you saute them first.  The freezing process seems to affect the texture somewhat.  If you find the result tolerable then it is an easy quick way to store your mushrooms.

The sauteing process for mushrooms is a little differnent than with many other items you may wish to saute.  The process is a dry saute using very little fluid, especially in the beginning.  At most a little oil in the pan to keep anything from sticking and whatever spices you like.  The process is a lot like the searing of meat.  After the pieces are sealed up, they will tolerate moisture without harming the texture of the mushroom.  Adding fluids too soon will make them mushy or slimy.

Once the mushrooms have cooled, they can be put in a freezer bag or wrapped in butcher paper and tossed in the freezer.

The longest I would expect out of this would be a few months without freezer burn or other adverse effects on the mushrooms.

For those who love mushrooms being able to keep them around longer is like having Christmas year round.  Okay, maybe I exagerate but I hope these techniques will help you keep your mushrooms around as long as you like.

Read Full Post »

Just in case you are a bit squeamish, I should let you know this is not about food. This post is one of those sideline interests of mine. It’s about the curing of hides. Not only is it about hides but it is about the Indian Technique for preserving hides. I mention it here because part of the process involves cold Smoking.

It is a bit of a reach but, what the heck. You’ve been warned.

I have a book that describes the process in detail written by Arlington C. “Buckskin Slim” Schaefer. What is surprising about this book published in 1973 is that it lead to a renewed interest in this process that continues to this day in tanning hides and that it was published in the county where I live. Douglas County, Oregon

The title of the book is “The Indian Art of Tanning Buckskins” and has quite a following even today amongst those wishing to make their own leather. Another name for the process is brain tanning.

You see the substance used to cure a hide in the Indian style is the brain of the animal. For a deer the brain is combined with about a quart of warm water and simmered for about an hour or so. There is a lot of preparation that is done to the skin before and after the skin is place in the brain-dope, as he calls it. It involves scraping, soaking and wringing the hide. It can then be cured two ways.

The first option is to lay out with the (former) hair side up and the brain-dope is rubbed in by hand. The edges are folded in and the hide is rolled up for about fifteen minutes.

The second option is to take the wrung-out hide right into the bucket or pot that has the dope in it. Kneed the hide to work the emulsion into all the nooks and crannies . It is left in the emulsion overnight and then laid out to dry all day in the sun or indoors depending on weather. After the hide is somewhat dried out, it is then put on a rack to complete the drying process. I haven’t done this but it’s certainly a lot of work. This will take us to the last step, smoking.

The hide is sewn together staring at the neck and leaving a hole at the tail end (about 16-20 inches) to go over the coals. A hole (pit) is dug about 18-24 inches deep and about 16 to 18 inches around. A small air hole is cut into the pit from about 18 to 24 inches from the pit at about a 45 degree angle and reaching to the bottom of the pit. The hide can be hung from a tripod made of long sticks. The edges of the hide are staked down or held down with rocks. In the pit a bed of coals are made. On the bed of coals damp rotten wood is placed to create the smoke. The air hole is used to regulate the coals as a flare up can ruin the project. The flow of air is slowed with moss or rags when needed. The hide is smoked for and hour or so and then turned inside out and repeated. Between the brain-dope and the smoke the hide is cured and ready for use.

The book goes into much more detail but this gives you an idea. It is a fascinating process making an incredibly useful leather.

Is the leather edible? Surprisingly, yes it is. It’s pretty tough though. Commercial leather has all kinds of poisons in it, so it’s not a good idea to let your toddler chew on it. Brain tanned leather is not poisonous, however, there are organisms carried in brain matter that can be dangerous. Problems are unlikely, but I thought I would throw that caution in there.

Read Full Post »