Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My favorite Pickled Ceps

1 kg small, young ceps
30 g salt
1 big yellow onion (about 200 g), peeled and cut into halves
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon yellow mustard grains
12 grains allspice
14 grains black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
250 ml white vinegar (10% acidity)
500 ml water
½ carrot, peeled, washed and finely sliced
3 250 ml jars

Delicately clean the ceps from the leftovers of the forest.
Scratch the stems to remove soil.
Rinse the mushrooms delicately under cold water.
In a saucepan, bring to a boil 1 liter of water with 20 g salt.
Add the onion and ceps and cook between 20 and 25 minutes until they are quite soft, or Al Dente.
Strain the liquid, discard the onion and put the mushrooms aside.
In the meantime, in a small saucepan boil a small amount of water and blanche the carrots, strain them and put them aside.
Prepare marinade: in a middle size saucepan, put the spices (mustard, allspice, black pepper), bay leaves, sugar, 10 g salt, the water and the vinegar.
Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Cool the marinade down and taste it. It should be sour with a sweet after taste.
Strain the marinade in order to separate the spices and bay leaves from the liquid (save the liquid).
Prepare sterilized jars.
Distribute the mushrooms, spices, bay leaves and carrots equally between the jars. The content should not be too tight.
Pour the liquid into the jars until it covers the mushrooms completely.
Close the jars and pasteurize them between 15 and 20 minutes.

You can use this recipe to pickle other eatable mushrooms, such as, for example, bay boletus, red pine mushrooms, suillus or chanterelles. Young red pine mushrooms are especially delicious when marinated. The best are small and young mushrooms. If you cannot get them, it is possible to marinade bigger mushrooms, but in such a case they must be cut into smaller pieces.
You can also adjust the acidity or sweetness of the marinade by changing the proportions of vinegar and sugar or replacing sugar by honey according to your own taste.
Remember that if you want to be happy with your marinated mushrooms (and other pickles) you should observe hygiene rules strictly. Mushrooms must be nice and in a good condition, well washed and dried. The jars and their lids must be ideally washed and sterilized.

As I already mentioned in my post concerning Lingonberry Preserves, Poland is a country where traditions of homemade preserves were strong for years.
Nearly every family – of either intellectuals or farmers – had a small cupboard full of marinated vegetables, mushrooms, jams, marmalades, juices, pickles, conserves, homemade alcohols etc. The tradition for homemade preserves is not as common anymore as it is possible to get all types of preserves in stores. Furthermore, people are busy with their professional lives and do not dedicate much time to this kind of culinary preparation.

However, it is obvious to say preserves are always better when homemade, provided that you have good recipes, and good ingredients, of course. You can always adjust their taste according to liking.

I like to pickle mushrooms on my own. Some brands which are available in stores are good as well, but in most cases they usually are too sour or too sweet for me, as they contain too much vinegar or too much sugar. And they are expensive!
In France, and possibly in other countries where Polish communities exist, you can find those pickled items in stores carrying Polish food.
Marinated mushrooms are my favorite side accompaniment to traditional Polish charcuterie and vegetable salad since childhood. When I was a kid, I could close myself in a bathroom, read a book and eat marinated mushrooms straight from the jar, risking stomach problems, as usually I had too much at once.
In the eighties, they were always made by my parents. The mushrooms were picked up in the summer time. Usually mushroom collection took place in local forest in an area surrounding small villages in the Podhale region, as we were going there every year. I have great memories, however, concerning the northern-eastern part of Poland, a real mushroom paradise, where we went for holidays in 1983, if I remember it well. The absolutely great area around the little town of Sejny. And Puszcza Augustowska, an old forest a bit remote from the ex-USSR border, was a paradise for picking mushrooms. The area was, and I believe, still is, not so overcrowded with people, with a lot of old forest rich in venison and mushrooms.

Now I pickle my mushrooms when I am in Poland, during summer holidays. In France they are awfully expensive. I always buy them on “Stary Kleparz”, a food market in the heart of the city, between Św.Filipa and Basztowa Streets. I will only say a few words today about this market, as it is worth mentioning it and visiting it. It is open every day, except Sundays, and it probably is the oldest food market in Kraków, having its origins from the 14th century. The history of this market is strictly connected with the history of Kraków.
Not such a long time ago, during the communist era, the market was a place to find goods in short supply. Women from the countryside were selling veal and other kinds of meat, for example. Exotic fruits, meaning banana, lemon, grapefruit and orange could be found there as well. My great aunt Janina, who passed away several years ago, used to run her small shop there, selling curd cheese and other milk products.
Also today the market is one of the most popular places in the city. Except for places selling meat, milk products, Polish and foreign fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, different types of beans, cereals, breads and so on, on a regular basis, you can find small retailers, very often farmers and producers, selling tons of fresh seasonal fruits, vegetable, mushrooms, homemade fresh and smoked cheeses and butter as well. The good thing about cheeses is that you are always invited to taste them before buying them, so you can choose what you really like.


Szalony Kucharz said...

Now this brings not so fond memories of mushroom picking. I hated those day-long escapades in search of mushrooms or blueberries, or wild strawberries. You would spend eight or so hours there, with your nose buried in the undergrowth, only to return home with a small basketful of tiny shrooms, or a jar of bluberries. There was only one thing I disliked more than foraging the woods: working at our allotment garden: picking strawberries/gooseberries/raspberries/cucumbers and so on. The only fun there was pest control, i.e. picking potato beetle larvae off the leaves and... 'squish-squish'

Anyway, in these days of ready-made preserves available at supermarkets at ridiculous prices, especially when it comes to wild mushrooms, I really regret my childhood aversion to mushroom picking and pickling. I feel like I've missed out on something very important, that great opportunity to be the sole producer of your own foodstuff: a gatherer and a cook in one. Even if it was only a triffle like mushrooms. Well, at least it seemed like a triffle back then.

Ewelina Majdak said...

Magdaleno wspaniały wpis. Dużo ludzi zapomina jak inaczej smakują domowe przetwory. A szkoda.
Mam nadzieję, że pojawi się ich u Ciebie więcej.
Moje ulubione to maślaki.
Nie pamiętam kiedy ostatni raz byłam w lesie na grzybach. Ech.
Dobranoc ;)

Magdalena said...

Polko dzieki. Tez uwielbiam maslaki. I rydze. Bedzie wiecej przetworow u mnie, lecz dopiero w sezonie, kiedy bede w Polsce na wakacjach.
Na grzybach bylam ostatni raz 17 lat temu...nie te czasy!

Magdalena said...

Szalony Kucharz!
Sorry for your traumatic mushroom-picking memories.
Wild pickled mushrooms are very expensive indeed, given low income of a great part of Polish society.
I will adjust the post accordingly. Thanks!

Karolina said...

I do not have any traumatic mushroom-picking memories at all (poor lad, Kucharz! ;)) because (believe me or not) I never ever went mushroom picking (poor lassie, Karolina! ;)). Will try this Autumn. :)

This was certailny my favourite snack when I was little girl. On every antie's or granny's birthday I was trying to skip cakes and tea and eat as much pickled mushrooms as possible! :) Wild mushrooms are far better than the ordinary ones imho.

Another great picture, Magda. :)

Anonymous said...

oh jak sobie przypomnę ich smak! Były tak pyszne jak pięknie wyglądają na tych zdjęciach! Bravo bravo Magdaleno!

Magdalena said...

Karolina: sorry for answering only today. Try mushroom picking. I hope I will visit Polish forests in summertime this year, we will see.
I do not like the picture too much, but I do not have another one. Glad that you like it!

Hej Anonimowy: dzieki wielkie. niestety zostal mi jeszcze tylko jeden sloiczek z poprzedniego lata.

Mack said...

Pickled mushroom? I haven’t tasted one, but I’m looking forward to it, someday. Mushrooms are my favorite, even before I knew how beneficial it is for our health. It’s a good thing that I was able to encourage my kids to eat mushrooms. And I’m proud to say that at the age of 3, my daughter has grown fond of eating it like I do.

-Mack Shepperson

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