I do not live in a country of mushroom pickers. I used to though. Finns are enthusiastic mushrooms pickers and guard their patches fiercely. Once, I remember walking through the forest on Ruissalo (an island near Turku). There was a flash of red in the trees and, being a curious creature, I gingerly stepped through the pine trunks into the forest to investigate. After only a few steps an elderly couple popped out from a ditch beneath a blueberry bush and began laughing and talking to me in Finnish. I laughed too and responded “No niin”, i.e. “Ok/right/of course/whatever”. This was my general response to everything I didn’t understand in Finland (which was quite a lot) and it served me very well. 🙂
On returning home, I told a friend about these pensioners and how I suspected I had interrupted some kind of aged, woody tryst. My friend put me straight. This Gortex clad, greying couple were almost definitely not frolicking in the forest, they were mushroom picking. Ahhhhhh. The hiding? The secrecy? They simply had been trying to hide the fact that they’d found a cracking patch of edible fungi.
Along with the Eurovision Song Contest, Finns take their mushrooms seriously.
Coming from a country where mushroom picking is not very common at all I know nothing about wild mushrooms, and I always suspect that no-one else does too! Thus, when my Dad told me about the patch of chanterelles he had found in the woods near the village I come from (see photo) I was sceptical. Were they really chanterelles (or girolles, if you want to be cook-booky about it)? Would I really survive if I ate them?
We picked a bucketful and that night (after much Google-ing) I made a simple sauce with them – a little onion sweated in butter, chanterelles, parsley, wine and crème fraiche. It tasted great and, as an added bonus, I was alive the next morning when I woke up. Hurrah!
D can’t stand mushrooms so the chanterelles are all mine. Though I like them a lot, I couldn’t eat whole bucket. The fungi had to be preserved. How to do it was the question. I tried three different methods: oven-drying, sun-drying and freezing. Here are the results.
The Method: Place baking trays of chanterelles in a 60oC oven with the door slightly ajar for 10 hours (I did it over night).
Result: A funky smelling kitchen, for starters! The mushrooms shrivelled up unattractively but dried well and retained their taste exceptionally well.
Method: Place on a tray in direct sunlight for 3-7 days (depending on strength of sun).
Results: The chanterelles dried perfectly, were very tasty AND retained their beautiful shapes. My favourite method.
Method: Freeze chanterelles individually on a baking tray (to stop them sticking together) before bagging and storing in the freezer. Defrost before use.
Results: Chanterelles are a bit soggy and lose some of their taste but are still pretty damned good and can be used as a “fresh” ingredient.
Next time I pick a bucket full (which will be very soon) I’m going to sun-dry half and freeze half. My preferred methods. 🙂
The following salad used the frozen chanterelles and was absolutely amazing! Ate it with some grilled smoked salmon steaks.
Chanterelle and Rocket Salad
(for one, rough amounts)
Knob of butter
Half a clove of garlic, finely chopped
Handful of chanterelles
Palmful of fresh parsley, chopped
Handful of rocket
Handful of floppy lettuce
Dressing – lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning
- Gently fry chanterelles and garlic in the butter until chanterelles just start to brown. Add parsley and stir. Remove from heat.
- Toss salad leaves with dressing.
- Top with chanterelle mixture.
Excuse my absense for the next few days. I’m off to Belladrum music festival this weekend with my best friend, then D returns from snowboarding in NZ and, on top of all that, school starts on Monday! Phew.
PS The lovely Amanda from Figs Olives and Wine nominated me for a Rocking Girl Blogger Award. I’m chuffed to bits to receive it and she said some very very sweet things about my blog. An enormous thank you, Amanda! 🙂
Hi Wendy 🙂
Thanks for stopping by the blog, nice to see another Scot!
I usually dry my chanterelles in a dehydrator or preserve in olive oil. They are coming to the end of their season here, and will soon be replaced by the mighty cepe (porcini).
It’s fabulous that you are out hunting them, not many people do these days, even here in France. The village has 3 mushroom hunters and I’m one of them.
Some types of food can be difficult to get here, but since I have my own fruit and veg garden, I just top up from the markets. I wish we had a veggie restaurant nearby, but the only ones with vegetarian options normally only offer an omelette or something cooked in meat stock…Ukkk.
First of all, do you remember when Bucks Fizz won the Eurovision Song Contest? One of the happiest moments of my life. My sister and I used to practice the dances to “Making Your Mind Up” and “If you Can’t Stand the Heat” on my parents’ white shag rug. She sucked, but now that I do the math, she may have been 2. Good times.
Secondly, I LOVE this post! What fabulous information to have, and that salad is stunning. I now have a huge craving and want to go mushroom picking too! Gorgeous writing and photos here, and congratulations again on the nomination! Have a great time at the festival.
Clever you!!! They look absolutely divine. I am green with envy!
Well I must say again, I am so jealous of your mushrooms. They look “picture perfect”. Great little story also! Now, werre those grey hairs really mushroom hunting? What a cute little story you could make of that!
So glad D is coming home! Have fun a the music festival and look forward to a good story there!
School – new adventures await!
Ohhhh thanks for the ideas on storing these. I love them and the first time I ate them was in Austria there they are called Eierswarmmel or something like that. They are gorgeous!!! I am very envious that you have enough to actually store.
I always feel an incredible urge to pick up mushrooms, edible or not. Maybe you want to organise an edible mushroom identifying and picking session??
When we lived in Andorra you could take your mushrooms to any pharmacy and they would pick through them, throwing out the poisonous ones!
Big mushroomers in that part of the world… and, inevitably, once a year, someone who had been picking for 20 years, got the wrong one and died.
Didn’t make me very confident about the whole thing!
You look like you got some lovely ones!
I had a good laugh with you, I’m glad that you made it through the night too. 🙂 I see you’ve been very busy doing research with the chanterelle. I see that we think a like when it comes to experimenting with food. Thanks for the ideas about storing the chanterelles. You are very clever!
Have fun at the music fest. Sounds like you have a busy week ahead. And a wonderful reunion to look forward too.
Hi there, I’ve only recently found your blog and just wanted to drop by and say how much I’m enjoying reading your posts. The chanterelles look glorious and I’m going to make your lentils and greens dish this week – in fact it might be lunch today.
I am a big fan of mushroom. And seeing this post, I just wanna fly over to your place. 😀
Ah, Eurovision. SUCH fun.
Love the Finnish couple hiding in the forest.
Salad looks fabulous, and those sun-dried ‘shrooms are looking excellent too. What a picture-perfect town you grew up in – flooded with your subtle Northern light.
I too would be scared of freshly picked mushrooms but it sounds exciting all the experimenting with preserving them. Your salad looks great – made me think of little mushrooms poking out of the forest floor! Hope you enjoy your music festival and get back into the swing of school ok.
Judy – Hello and welcome! The olive oil idea is one that I may try out. Can’t see myself buying a dehydrater though. My kitchen is bursting at the seems as it is!
Amanda – Thank you for all the kind words! Love the dancing story! I too made up dances to Bucks Fizz. We even made skirts that tore off to reveal shorts underneath!
Truffle – I’d send you some but I suspect the Aussie customs may have something to say about it!
Deb – I still have my doubts about that couple!
Pat – You’re very welcome! It was fun to experiment. 🙂
Mallika – It’d be a pretty short session! Somethings along the lines of – “these are chanterelles… Any questions? No? Then we’re done.” 🙂
Katiez – What a cool story! Wish we had a pharmacy like that!
Nora – Thank you! I do like to experiment. Will blog later in the year about the perfect roast potato experiment!
Kathryn – Welcome and thank you! Would love to know how you get on with that recipe. 🙂
Anh – Jump on the plane and I’ll take you to the spot! 😉
Lucy – The village itself isn’t particularly pretty but the surrounding area is lovely. A wonderful place to grow up. 🙂
Johanna – Love the comparison of the salad and the forest floor! 🙂
I love, love, love, love mushroom picking and for some reason thought that you could not freeze them without them turning to mush. Now that I know the truth I am going to have a freezer full of my finds from rural Michigan. Thank you, thank you.
Oh yes and when I was in Finland it was December, I did not see any mushrooms haha. Love the country though and wish to live there some day but hubby is looking for job in Italy 😦
Oh my god that’s unbelievable. I am so jealous. Now I want to be Bucks Fizz for Halloween but no one over here would get it. Drat.
You’re so fortunate to get a variety of mushrooms. We only get the white button mushrooms, portabello and the small carmini which are all imported and expensive!
Still have a few weeks of chanterelles to go here. I don’t have to ‘hunt’ for there where I live ( Speyside, Northeast Scotland) as they are so prolific… really, pic a verge or wooded area and there they are! The crazy thing is almost no one here bothers with them!
I pickled about 9 jars last year, cooked in seasoned white wine vinegar and preserved in olive oil. As it was a bumper year for ceps last year I also did the same with those and they pickle really well. I Also have bags of them in the freezer and they do indeed freeze well 🙂
Interestingly, I discovered mushroom hunting while travelling in Finland.
Tim – You’re just down the road from us! We’re in Inverness – though I picked the mushrooms in Aberdeenshire. Guess we’re mushroom rivals now. 🙂
Thanks for the pickling idea. Haven’t considered that.
Ahh, well I’m in Moray.. its awash with Chanterelles 🙂 That said, I have just discovered the wood where I was picking a basket full of ceps in about 30 minutes on every visit last year has just been cut down.
Tim – Bummer.
If I see you at my mushroom patch in Raisio you will be in trouble. And you probably ran into my In-Laws in Ruissalo.
Kinkku ja Sieni – Moikka! Ja tervetuloa! I have been warned… 🙂
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What a lovely blog! I’m in Edinburgh and have to travel a little further than my doorstep for decent mushrooms – but only a little. I have a friend who complains a lot these days, saying that since the influx of migrant workers into the UK, especially Eastern Europeans, shroomy hunting has become a lot more difficult. Now, whilst it’s true that there has been, in my experience, a noticeable decline in the numbers of shrooms I see in some spots, and whilst it’s also true that I now have to get up earlier to find them, I think the Eastern European influence is nothing but a big, fat bonus! The discussion above has been saying that we’re not very good at hunting in Scotland and that’s true. We’re not. These people have LOADS more experience, knowledge and skill than we do. We need to use it! SO – get out there, befriend an Eastern European or two, and let your shroomy education take off! I did – and it’s done me no end of good. Of course, that moaning friend was with us, but I guess some people are just a lost cause…
The Green Badger – Oooooh, good idea. I’m always looking around for a mushroom picking seminar or guided walk in my area and can never find one. The only Eastern Europeans I know at the moment are 12 years old. May have to accost their mothers! Thank you for the idea. 🙂
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I just got back from picking fresh chanterelles here in PEI,Canada.I stumbled upon them by accident but I knew immediately what they were.The chanterelle here fetch quite a high price so finding them was just awesome…..I put them in tinfoil with some garlic and butter and put them on the bbq, had them with our spaghetti for supper.I could not believe how many there was,just incredible……I will keep this little spot a secret….