Foraging in pine forests can yield a bountiful basket of wild mushrooms. If you can’t eat them all at once, marinate them! Here’s our favourite recipe for the much-prized Saffron Milk Caps.
In Australia, late February to late May is the mushroom season: they thrive in the autumn rains. Foraging for the tasty Saffron Milk Caps in the pine forests is a pleasure: it’s like a treasure hunt in one of nature’s most peaceful settings.
We get ours in pine forests of the Southern Highlands of NSW. They are common in Europe too, particularly in the Mediterranean Basin. First-timers to foraging should go with an expert guide first, to learn which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous. Pay attention to your surroundings, too: don’t get lost in the forest!
If your wild mushroom bounty is large, try your hand at making marinated Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms, either in brine, or olive oil and garlic. This way you’ll have delicious jars of mushroomy goodness ready for your risotto, pasta sauce, or for your gourmet breakfast of poached eggs and sauteed warrigal greens on toasted sourdough. TTW
Recipe: Brana Regulic and Zora Regulic. Photo: Zora Regulic.
- 1kg Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms.
- 1 litre of water for washing mushrooms.
- 1 cup of white vinegar for washing mushrooms.
- 2 1/2 litres of water for brine.
- 3 cups of white vinegar for brine.
- 4 tablespoons of salt for brine.
- 1 1/2 cups of olive oil (if using as marinade instead of brine).
- 4-5 whole peppercorns per jar.
- Sprigs of rosemary or thyme.
- 1 head of garlic.
- 4-6 x 500g jars (depending on how tight you pack the jars, have a few extra on hand for excess mushrooms)
1. Wash the mushrooms in mix of 1 litre of water and 1 cup of vinegar. Use a dish cloth or paper towel to help remove the dirt while giving them a quick dip in the water/vinegar mix. This will get rid of any little critters hanging around and helps rinse off any dirt and pine needles.
2. Cut any bruised parts off the mushroom (parts that look green) and cut off the tough ends of the mushroom stalks.
3. Slice the mushrooms into approximately 5cm x 1cm pieces (we also used some of the small mushrooms whole).
4. If using brine, bring to the boil a pot containing the water, salt and vinegar. Taste the brine to check if it’s salty enough or that there is enough vinegar. Blanche the mushroom slices in batches for a few minutes until tender (don’t overcook) Remove them with a slotted spoon and place in a colander.
5. To prevent mould forming, it's important to sterilise your jars. Prepare your jars by washing and rinsing them in hot water. Place the open jars and lids in an oven preheated to 110˚c for 10 minutes (or place the jars and lids in your dishwasher on the hottest cycle). Allow the jars to cool before filling them.
6. Peel garlic cloves and place as many as you like in the jar. Add the peppercorns and a sprig of whatever herb you choose (we used fresh rosemary in some jars, while we added fresh thyme to other jars). Add the mushrooms (add more garlic cloves if desired).
7. When you have filled the jar with mushrooms, pour in either the brine that the mushrooms were cooked in or fill with the olive oil. Make sure the mushrooms are completely covered with the liquid.
8. Allow the mixture to cool slightly (if using the brine) and then close the lid tightly. Leave the mushrooms for approximately 2 weeks before opening. TTW
The marinated mushrooms will keep for at least a few months if stored in a cool place.