Saturday, September 29, 2012

Autumn Olive Recipe - Autumn Olive Jelly

There are several sources online for a red, pulpy autumn olive jam (Elaeagnus umbellata). We make this jam,   but it does not keep for very long, separating into pockets of  whitish goo and red pulp after a few months.

One of the characteristics of the autumn olive berry we have noticed is that if you run them through the food mill raw, the resulting juice will separate into two distinct layers: one opaque, red and pulpy, and one translucent, light pink, and tart. If you first cook the berries, then run them through the food mill, the pulp will be less likely to separate from the juice. However, even using the cooked berry pulp results in a separated jam after some time. The red pulp of the berry contains the lycopene, but the translucent juice is what adds the puckery element to the flavor. We decided to make a less-nutritious, but clear, tart jelly from the juice alone by milling the berries raw and hanging the resulting juice in a jelly bag to further clarify the juice. The result is a tart and jewel-like jelly, filled with just a few speckles of red pulp. The resulting leftover, thick  lycopene-rich pulp that is separated from the juice is used like tomato paste in dressings or sauces, or we add it to the previously removed seeds to make wine. Considering the abundance of this invasive berry, even just discarding the pulp is a possibility.

Autumn Olive Jelly                makes 6 pints

16 c. raw autumn olives
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 box (1.75 oz) Sure*Jell low sugar pectin

1. Run the raw autumn olives through a food mill to remove the seeds and small stems, passing it through at least twice.
2. Hang the resulting juice and pulp in a jelly bag for an hour. You need to have 4 1/2 cups of the light pink, clear juice. Discard the pulp in the jelly bag.
3. Mix 1/4 c.of the sugar with the pectin in a small bowl, and then whisk it into the juice in a large pot.
4. Bring the juice to a rolling boil, and add the rest of the sugar all at once, stirring.
5. Bring the jelly back up to a rolling boil, and boil 1 minute. Remove from the heat, skim the foam from the top, and ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Process 15 minutes in boiling water. Cool.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicken Mushroom Recipe - BBQ Pulled "Chicken" Sandwiches

This season we have found lots and lots of chicken mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) and white chickens (Laetiporus cincinnatus) in varying states of edibility. Some were so fresh they oozed liquid, others were more mature and still wonderfully tender, and even more were old and crumbly and probably tasted like sawdust. Drying these sulfur shelf mushrooms is not ideal, although the dried pieces can be powdered or re-hydrated to make stock. Freezing the surplus is the preservation method of choice if you can't manage to eat them all fresh.

This recipe works well with mature but still tender chickens, since you can shred the fronds to get the same texture as pulled pork. The sauce can be adjusted to your taste since it is a bit tangy, and any creamy coleslaw tastes good on top of the "meat".

Poached and shredded "chicken"

BBQ Pulled "Chicken" Sandwich                 makes enough filling for 8-10 sandwiches

8-10 rolls
2 c. creamy coleslaw

Poaching liquid:
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard powder
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
4 c. water
1 pound tender chicken mushroom fronds

1. Mix all of the spices together and add to the water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and add the sulphur shelf fronds to poach for 20 minutes. Allow the poaching liquid to cool, leaving the mushroom fronds in the water. This can be refrigerated at this point, or shredded immediately.
2. Using a fork or knife edge, follow the natural ridges of the mushroom fronds and shred the mushroom into a large bowl.

BBQ sauce:
1 c. water
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. spicy brown mustard (or 2 Tbsp garlic mustard-mustard)
4 Tbsp ketchup
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp minced onion
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
pinch of cayenne

1.Whisk all of the ingredients for the sauce together in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low-medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often. Taste and adjust the seasonings. The sauce should be reduced and slightly thick. Puree the BBQ sauce in a blender.
2. Pour about half of the sauce over the shredded mushroom and toss to coat.
3. Serve the shredded and sauced "chicken" on a roll, topped with more sauce and coleslaw.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Bolete collection from 2011 Devil's Hopyard Foray with CVMS

Before we joined the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society and became really involved, I will admit I was a little afraid of mushrooms. I believed the old wive's tales and was fearful of wildly dangerous toxins that I could contract just by touching a toadstool. My previous ideas and mental images of mushrooms were more cartoon-ish than realistic, like Smurf houses and furniture for fairies, and people who ate mushrooms were wild mountain men or just hippies looking for a bad trip. I thought all mushrooms had red caps with white spots and gills.

The first time I saw a bolete, I was amazed at the underside of the cap. It was covered not in gills, but tiny holes! When sliced in half, you could see that those holes were the ends of long tubes that were under the cap and tightly packed together. Then we saw different colored boletes, with different colored pores, with pores that oozed a yellow liquid, with irregular pores, with small pores and larger pores, and pores that changed color when scratched. Many boletes are classified in the Boletus genus, but others that are related are the Leccinums, Tylopilus, Gyroporus, and Suillus. Many of the boletes are also edible, the most commonly known is the Porcini (Boletus edulis). Robert has taken a special interest in boletes as edibles and subjects of photos. Here's a few favorite pics of some of the boletes we have encountered over the past year.

Suillus castanellus

Boletus onatipes, ornate stalked bolete

Boletus inedulis, NOT a porcini, it is very bitter
Xanthiconium seperans

Suillus pictus, painted bolete found under pines, edible
Boletus morrisii, beautiful red pores that fade to yellow

Tylopilus alboater, black velvet bolete, great edible

Boletus bicolor, excellent edible
Boletus sensibilis, pores stain dark blue quickly when scratched,
 and smell like curry powder
Strobilomyces floccopus, commonly called the Old Man of the Woods
due to its shaggy cap and stem, it stains red when cut

Boletus frostii, the red pores of fresh Frost's boletes exude
a honey colored liquid

Tylopilus plumbeoviolaceus, beautiful but too bitter to eat