For all of you Moms out there Happy Mothers Day!
If you noticed the main photo changed this week to reflect the large picking of mushrooms we have. With large amounts of rainfall recently the spring morel mushrooms are thick. We have been blessed to be able to forage not only enough to eat but also enough to freeze for use throughout the year. Just a note though... I am sure we got at the least as many ticks as mushrooms. The ticks are horrible this year.
Once we got the morels home we sorted them and removed any ones that had bad spots and set them to soak for a short period of time in a salt water bath The salt water bath helps to kill off the bugs. We don't soak them in salt over a half hour though because it will also make them turn mushy. Instead we squirt them with the spray nozzle from the sink to thoroughly wash and remove any leftover wildlife : )
O Wise One also found a couple of the big red beefsteak mushrooms.
Once clean some of the mushrooms we chopped up into smaller pieces. These I will use just like the purchased mushrooms from the supermarket in casseroles and sauteed with onions for over meats and such. Recipes that call for mushroom soup I make my own white sauce base with butter, flour and cream or milk and then add sauteed mushrooms to make my own mushroom soup.
These pieces go into small jelly jars and half pints. The perfect size for smaller servings. Then I pour water over them. Now I do not fill them to completely cover the mushrooms but rather just enough water so that the top mushrooms are in some water to freeze.
And when I run out of jelly jars or want a few for larger servings, they go into MILK CARTONS. I have read several places for people looking for something to freeze in other than plastic. I will share my late mother in laws trick of using milk cartons. Years ago my own mother used to buy freezer containers that were made of cardboard with a wax covering. I think they are no longer produced because everything has gone to plastic. But with questions now arising about the safety of using plastics for freezing I have reverted for some things to the way they used to be done. These cartons are from my year long purchase and use of dairy products. We buy from the Amish dairy when we get the chance but during the winter that is a rough drive through icy winding back roads and many times like everyone else we resort to out local supermarket dairy case. That milk,buttermilk and creamer all come in cardboard and wax cartons. These are the handiest thing that I recycle.
I use the small 1 quart ones as soap molds for my homemade soap.
I use the small pint ones and sometimes the larger ones for potting vegetables for the garden. Tomatoes love those deep quart cartons.
And I recycle them to freeze things in. This was my late motherinlaws go to container for freezing fish and mushrooms. The trick is to cover them with water.
Leave about 1 inch headroom and like the jars put water just to the bottom of the top layer of mushroom pieces.
Ready to go into the freezer with water in the jars.
I also wanted some halves for a recipe that I have where I stuff the cavity with crabmeat and cheese and then roll and fry. Kind of like jalapeno poppers only mushroom poppers. So I put some in cartons that were simply cut in halves also. And fill to within 1 inch of the crease where the carton was folded on the top. Now the next trick. Mushrooms float so after you fill the container with water place crumpled piece of foil over the top and push down. The foil will hold down the mushrooms as they freeze. Notice in the above picture the top two containers already have foil.
Another shot of the cartons with the foil.
Now freeze until frozen solid!
These are frozen solid and see how the top mushroom pieces are sticking out of the ice? Now take some water and cover them completely up. They are frozen solid and anchored in the ice and you want all the pieces completely encapsulated in ice. Then no freezer burn or absorbing bad odors or tastes.
The same with the cartons. The mushrooms are frozen on the bottom in the water and the foil is also frozen into the water. Now cover the foil with water to the fold line of the carton. ( Not the very top lip but where the carton is first folded ) Now put them all back in the freezer.
What you want is a solid jar of mushrooms and water. Notice on this jar that there are no parts of the mushroom exposed.
Now we are going to take the jars once frozen solid and hold under tap water long enough for the frozen water and mushrooms to slip out of the jar. Just a word of warning: this is harder than it sounds because those blocks of ice are slicker than cat poop on a linoleum floor !
Then I will roll each jar of frozen mushrooms in waxed paper and then in aluminum foil.
These individual chunks of mushroom can be taken out as needed and allowed to defrost naturally in the refrigerator.
And those cartons....once frozen the tops are folded flat and taped. Freezer tape does not work well for this so my kitchen helper, known to you all as O Wise One steps in. As you see he still belongs to the " Bigger Hammer Club". Their motto is everything can be solved with zip ties, hot glue and a larger hammer. If all else fails have lots of duct tape!
Those cartons of mushrooms halves will be allowed to defrost naturally in the refrigerator then the water poured out and they are rinsed and breaded. They taste almost like fresh put up this way.
So as mushrooms season winds down I find my freezer full of breaded mushrooms, mushroom halves in cartons and mushroom pieces for cooking. Now I know someone is going to ask and yes I have heard that some people can them and have for years. I have never and have read that they can be dangerous to can that they put off some type of toxic gas that causes botulism to form. So for now I do it this way.
I would be interested to hear if anyone has any experience with canning them and how you do it!
Until next time...
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter