October 30, 2011

FORAGING - Cranberries, Rose Hips and Mushrooms!

~Rose Hip Syrup~

Last weekend was idyllic, autumn weather and I'd heard that mushrooms were up like crazy out near the coast. Our came the foraging gear and off we went to see what we could find. October is also cranberry harvesting season here in the northwest. So, I had high hopes for the day. 

On the way, we spotted some rose bushes laden with perfect rose hips. We picked about three cups, making sure to leave plenty for the birds to enjoy. I planned to use them to make rose hip syrup for use in tea. 

When we arrived at the coast, we started looking under the shore pines just behind the dunes. There were bolete mushrooms all over the place,as well as a few chanterelles! Jim called to me from the parking lot, "See any?" "Only everywhere," I replied. We could afford to be picky and only take the freshest, least blemished ones. At the end of the day, we had over 12 lbs. of mushrooms and I had a lot of work ahead of me to fry and freeze, dry and bag and to eat now.

We broke for lunch and were served piping hot cranberry apple cider. It was utterly delicious - I had two. After lunch, we headed for the cranberry fields, hoping to buy some fresh ones. There were some people out harvesting, but not many. The cranberry rakers we use out here in the northwest were invented here, as flooding the fields as they do back east isn't practical. No one was selling cranberries, so we got out to take some photos and all along each field were scattered berries that would go to waste. So, we gathered a bag of them and I had visions of my own cranberry cider dancing in my head.  

Hot Cranberry Apple Cider - heavenly!

Bags of cranberries, ready to ship out

It was fun to find all this free food, just going out looking for it. Today, I made the rose hip syrup. The color is so rich and beautiful and the flavor is uniqely its own. Rather like persimmon, but with a little kick. Here is a simple recipe to make your own. It's wonderful in tea, over sliced fruit, on ice cream or plain yogurt. 


2 1/2 c. ripe rose hips, any size
2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
6 strips of lemon peel
Juice of half a lemon

Trim the blossom ends off the hips and place in small saucepan. Pour water over, then add sugar and lemon peel. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to a simmer. Do not cover! Simmer about ten minutes, then use a potato masher or back of a large spoon to crush the fruit. Continue simmering for another 25-30 minutes, until liquid is becoming thickened. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat, cool slightly and then strain through a very fine sieve (or use one sieve inside of another), crushing fruit as you go to extract as much juice and pulp as possible. Pour into a jar, refrigerate and use within a month. 
Note: spices can be added, if desired, such as cinnamon, cloves or candied ginger

October 18, 2011


Aren't they beautiful?! I look forward to chanterelles all year. Autumn in the Pacific Northwest brings an enviable harvest of many types of mushroom ~ lobster mushrooms; chanterelles; fall oyster mushrooms; cauliflower types; lion's mane; various boletes - including King boletes (porcini), if you're lucky; matsutakes; shiitakes; puffballs;  hen of the woods. It really is a fungi cornucopia! If you're not a mushroom lover, you have my deepest sympathies. This weekend, I'm going on a mushroom hunt in the Olympic National Forest with the South Sound Mushroom Club. I have high hopes for some great finds. But, since I have a basketful of chanterelles today, I wanted to post some photos and a couple of favorite recipes of mine. I hope that, wherever you are, you have access to these earthy, rich, meaty, colorful mushrooms.

As chanterelles (plural) grow in many places around the world, they go by different names. My family is German-American, so I always knew them as "pfifferlinge". The French often call them girolles, Italians call them cantarelli, but most cultures call them chanterelles. Their color glows! The hues range from pale yellow-cream to bright golden-orange. Color depends on age and the weather conditions when they were developing. All sizes and shapes are equally delicious and tender, from button-sized new ones to those fluted, horn-shaped, huge ones like the one on the upper right above. That one is 7 inches by 4 inches in HALF! If you look closely, you can see that it's folded like a clam. The photo below shows just a simple sauté of chanterelles in olive oil, butter, garlic, salt, black pepper and white wine served over newly harvested potatoes from our garden. Often, simple preparations are simply the best.  

I want to share with you one of my favorite ways of cooking chanterelles ~ a wild mushroom ragout that's amazing served over grilled or roasted meats or as a sauce for polenta, potatoes or pasta. The fresh parsley on top at the end really does make a difference, in taste as well as presentation. Eat and be merry!

4 servings

Note: If you are serving with pork or chicken, use Marsala. If serving with beef or game, use the red wine. If serving with pasta or polenta, it's your choice.

2 T. each of butter and olive oil
4 oz. finely chopped pancetta
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 lb. fresh chanterelles or a mix of wild mushrooms, roughly chopped (stems included)
2 T. flour
2/3 c. chicken stock, heated
2/3 c. Marsala OR dark red wine
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves OR 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt or Kosher salt
Fresh parsley, minced

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté pancetta until just starting to brown. Add shallot, garlic and chanterelles and sauté several minutes, until mushrooms lose their moisture and start to brown. Sprinkle flour over the mushroom mixture and continue to stir and cook for one minute more. Add hot chicken stock, stirring constantly. Sauce will start to thicken. Add Marsala or wine, thyme, salt and pepper and stir two minutes, until smooth and aromatic. Serve over meat, poultry, pasta or polenta, sprinkled with fresh parsley.


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