Typically when I go to the market I take my sweet time which involves: doing the pickle inspiration rounds, saying “Hi” to each and every (no, really) person I know, and then a final lap to actually buy the veggies. Amidst the unexpected visit to bouncy world, the freezing cold weather, misbehaving auto parts, and a killer migraine, I finally made it to my first Seacoast Winter Farmers’ Market last Saturday at Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford, NH. The only difference between this weekend’s visit and other visits (aside from the location and a bunch of new vendors) was that I showed up with only about 30mins to “market” before the closing bell rang. This meant it was time to hustle, and as you can probably imagine, it’s difficult to hurry when someone (cough) has a talking problem.
Tucked in the back corner of the market was the New Hampshire Mushroom Company‘s booth. New to me as they weren’t at the summer market in Portsmouth this year, I kind of freaked. I began talking with the somewhat scraggly, somewhat older seasoned mushroom man about the company’s mushroom enterprise and before I knew it, the market was about over and the vendors were starting to pack up. Frantically forced to make a decision, I went with blue oyster mushrooms as the vendor offered up a last minute 5 pound box for $12 deal. Blue Oyster (Pleurotus Columbinus) mushrooms contain the same benefits that have been shown with King Oyster mushrooms. Blue oysters have been shown to increase immune response, reduce cholesterol, and have been used effectively as an antibiotic.
Three times in the past two weeks I’ve been approached with the same type of proposition: “Hey Erin, I have X-amount of X-item… you can pickle that, right?” “Sure, unload your time sensitive goods on me and I’ll figure it out…”. The weekend before last, we ran into a friend downtown who had stumbled upon a ton of local wild oyster mushrooms (apparently it’s that time of the year). “Someone told me the best way to preserve mushrooms is to pickle them, so I’m looking for a pickler…” Local mushrooms foraged by a friend that need pickling? Heck yes, we’ll do it! Be we, I mean the beau. Aside from the occasional advice in making sure he didn’t put up botulism in a jar (“mmm, that sounds good. I’ll have that”), my only role in this here mushroom pickle was supervisor’ess. In need of inspiration, the internet was consulted and the recipe by Marisa from Food in Jars featured on In a Pickle was the winner. While our tasked bounty of fresh mushrooms only produced ~2 half pints of pickles, the byproduct was a flavor filled mushroom stock that we used in a soup later that evening.
With the guilty exception of mushroom flavored ramen as a kid, I have always despised all things mushroom. As with seafood, mushrooms were one of those items that I was made to sit at the table, un-excused until I tried a bite of. Alas, the off-putting taste, texture, and color of mushrooms has finally found a special, yet hesitant, place in my heart. Recently I’ve started joining the beau on his wild mushroom foraging adventures. Late to this year’s wild harvest season, our Baltimore apartment has become a pseudo laboratory for mushroom cultivation and experimentation. Pickled mushrooms were the obvious next step. I’ve been toying with the idea of pickled mushrooms for the past few weeks, and finally came across this ‘shroom recipe in my newly gifted Put ’em Up! canning book. Sherri’s book offers a comprehensive overview of food preservation, and I plan on featuring a few of her other recipes this week.