Canning lids…where the rubber meets the jar

Asparagus is in season in the Pacific NW and this is the perfect time to make pickled asparagus. It’s a great condiment with charcuterie, cheese, Bloody Mary’s, and makes an excellent gift.

Asparagus bed at the community garden. Image by Buffy Rhoades.

However, unless you’ve been lucky enough to score good canning lids online or have leftovers from last year, they’ve become a valuable commodity.  Raise your hand if the thought of not finding lids in the middle of tomato season stresses you out. (Preparing for the season by knowing how much you need to preserve helps.)

I recently asked Jeanne Brandt at OSU Extension in Linn/Benton county if she’s heard anything from Ball. Word on the street is they’re expecting normal production late-April through May, but what does normal look like? Products are slowly starting to appear on store shelves, but seem to sell out fast.

University of Wisconsin-Madison recently shared information on lids and home food preservation in an article called Put a Lid on It! (I love this name!)

By far the most important step in safe home canning is to follow an up-to-date, research tested recipe. Research-tested recipes recommend metal 2-piece lids for home canning.  Two-piece lids are sold to fit regular and wide-mouth glass canning jars and are made up of a flat metal lid and a metal screw band.  The lid contains a sealing compound that, when properly used, softens during the canning process and forms an airtight seal as the container cools.”

We know this. But they go on to say, and pay attention, because this is important:

Tattler reusable lids. Image from University Wisconsin-Madison Put a Lid on It! article. *By the way, universities do not endorse specific brands.

Are reusable lids safe for home-based canning?  Recent research suggests that reusable lids such as the Tattler-brand* will safely seal jars when used for home-based canning.  This type of reusable lid is used with a thin rubber gasket. A metal screw band is also needed during canning!”

They share helpful advice on using and maintaining lids and gaskets too.

In the meantime, if you have lids, try this tasty pickled asparagus recipe I adapted from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Zeidrich. Betsy, one of our amazing certified Master Food Preserver volunteers, introduced this flavor combination using lemon and rosemary in her pickled asparagus and it was a hit. I have to share it with y’all. For details on how to preserve these beauties and other pickled goodness, refer to the Pickling Vegetables publication PNW355.

Lemon Rosemary Pickled Asparagus-

  • 5 large cloves of garlic
  • 30 black peppercorns
  • 1/2teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 5 small sprigs of rosemary
  • 5 slices of lemon
  • About 3 pounds of washed asparagus, trimmed to fit into 12-ounce jelly jars
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar 5% acidity
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar
  1.  Divide the garlic, peppercorns, pepper flakes, rosemary, and lemon slices among 5 12-ounce jelly jars. Pack the asparagus vertically in hot jars with the tips down. (It makes them easier to remove from the jar later.)
  2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  3. Using a funnel, carefully pour boiling vinegar brine over the asparagus, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.
  4. Wipe the tops of the jar w a damp paper towel or cloth until clean and place two-piece lids and rings on jar, and close finger tight. Do not over tighten.
  5.  Process in a boiling water canner:
    • 10 minutes for 0-1000Ft elevation
    • 15 minutes for 1001- 6000ft elevation

      Kosher Dills, Pickled Asparagus, and pickled green cherry tomatoes. Image by Buffy Rhoades
    • 20 minutes above 6001ft elevation

The sun is out, the birds are singing, and asparagus is growing. Let’s embrace the season!

And as always my friends, keep up the good work. You’re doing a great job!

Stay curious and be excellent to each other.

Buffy Rhoades| mom. forager. gardener. volunteer turned program assistant. a real busy beaver

instagram icon download 24x24 - curved Healthy Together Newsletter  Website

 

 

 

CSAs, Double UP Food Bucks, and Extension…

Produce Display at the Oregon City Farmer’s Market. Photo by Elena Illescas.

During my first year as a fully trained OSU Extension Master Food Preserver (MFP) volunteer, I also interned at Zenger Farm as part of a CSA Partnership for Health (CSAP4H) pilot program. And none of my friends knew what the heck that meant.

Understanding acronyms is like knowing another language. Recently, I received feedback that when sharing a new topic or idea, it’s important to take a couple of (big) steps backwards. Sometimes I’m so close to a topic, I skip the basics.

Who is OSU Extension and what do they do? (And why should you care? Um…free science-based resources? Yes, please!) What do Master Food Preservers do, and how are they connected to the Family and Community Health (FCH) program? And what is the CSA Partnership for Health program? In fact, what is a CSA? Excellent questions.

So, Buckle Up Buttercup, let’s talk about this.

Oregon State University (OSU) Extension:

OSU Extension engages the people of Oregon with research-based knowledge and education. Extension programs include 4-H, Forestry, Horticulture (Master Gardeners), and Family and Community Health (FCH), to name a few. Master Food Preservers (MFP) and the SNAP Education program exist under the FCH umbrella. Volunteers participate in an intensive volunteer training program and pay back their training through volunteer service. They make food safety and food preservation recommendations to the public and provide education through classes and public events like farmer’s markets, emergency prep fairs, and other community events. Clackamas County MFP training also includes nutrition and food resource management, partnering with food banks, schools, and the community to deliver nutrition programming.

SNAP To It! tour w Brown Bottle Farm at OC farmer’s market 2019

More on that later.

A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), as mentioned in Meet Me In the Pawpaw Patch, is a trust relationship between a person and a farmer.

Photo from SimpleSeasonal.com

Investing in a farm at the beginning of the season (like now) helps pay for seeds, soil amendments, and infrastructure, like repairing a hoop house damaged by the recent ice storm. Farms don’t produce many crops to sell this time of year, so they repay the investment by providing a share of their crop later, during the growing season. Some folks find their farms through a friend, online, farmer’s markets, or through events like the PNW CSA Share Fair.

It used to be that you had to come up with at least half, if not all, of a CSA payment at the beginning of the season, but nowadays payment schedules are more flexible. Some farms are even set up to receive monthly payment with EBT. 

What is EBT?

Electronic Benefits Transfer, EBT is the debit-style card used as a form of payment for folks receiving SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

What is SNAP and what does it do in addition to paying for food?

Ingredients assembled and pre-measured are ready to start cooking the Cherry Puff pancake recipe. We share the recipe and invite people to cook with us through Facebook, Instagram, and our website.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition benefits for individuals and families in need. Did you know that if you receive SNAP benefits, you also qualify for other resources, such a Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB)? SNAP-Education is under the umbrella of OSU’s FCH program and through classes and programs like Kids in the Kitchen and MyPlate, teach students and adults about eating healthy. Food Hero is a resource of healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare recipes. Many of the recipes are simple enough for children to make.

So yeah…that’s cool. 🙂

 

CSA Partnership for Health Program

CSA Partnership for Health began as a pilot in 2015 with the nonprofit urban farm, Zenger Farm. The goal was to see if increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, paired with education on healthy eating, would have an impact on patient’s health.

Buffy and fellow intern at East County Health clinic CSA pick up. 2015

Patients arrive at their home clinic each week to pick up fresh vegetables, taste healthy recipes, learn new ways to prepare produce, and build support networks. The program supports individual health, the prosperity of our local food system, and works with insurers to one day provide coverage for fresh fruits and vegetables, just like prescription medication.  Patients pay a $5 weekly co-pay (in cash or SNAP) for a 22-week prescription of vegetables and whole grains. At the time I interned, we contributed to a series of skill sheets, highlighting some common cooking methods. The CSAP4H program is still operating, and helping folks connect fruits and vegetables with better health, while addressing the root causes of food access and disease. It’s a beautiful thing.

Farmers Market Fund’s Double Up Food Bucks program.

It matches up to $10 SNAP dollars spent weekly on fruits and vegetables at farmers markets across Oregon. $10+$10=$20! Double Up helps low-income folks bring home more fresh produce, small farmers get an economic boost, and local economies thrive.

 

How does this tie into OSU’s FCH program and Master Food Preservers?

In 2016, our fearless leader, OSU Extension’s Clackamas County Family and Community Health faculty and senior instructor, Kelly Streit, developed SNAP-To-It!, a farmer’s market tour followed by a Food Hero cooking demonstration featuring ingredients sourced at the farmer’s market. The SNAP-Ed Program is partnering with Double Up Food Bucks to deliver more SNAP-To-It! programming. The partnerships will be at select farmer’s markets, small grocery stores, and CSA farms in select regions across the state.

Created and shared with permission from Zenger Farm

Remember the Zenger farm skill sheets? MFP volunteers are working on creating skill sheets on additional topics, such as: Making a green sauce, how to store fresh herbs, unusual root vegetables, and other topics helpful to CSA and DUFB members.

So, stay tuned.

And as always my friends, keep up the good work. There’s light at the end of this tunnel. You can do it.

Stay curious and be excellent to each other.

Buffy Rhoades| mom. forager. gardener. volunteer turned program assistant. a real busy beaver

instagram icon download 24x24 - curved  Healthy Together Newsletter  Website

Spring into Canning

Checking pectin expiration dates is one of many ways to prepare for canning season. Image courtesy of Buffy Rhoades

February 1st is the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and what I consider to be the beginning of Spring. It has all of the characteristics of a proper halfway point. Last week it snowed and there’s still snow in the coast range and lots of snow on the mountain, but we also see glimpses of Spring. Crocuses are popping up and daphne is ready to bloom. Farmers are advertising their CSAs. Seed catalogs are arriving in the mail and gardeners like myself are dreaming and planning the next growing season. It’s a beautiful thing.

Preparing for canning season includes taking inventory of full and empty jars and unused lids, scheduling an annual pressure canner gauge test, and checking the dates on pectin boxes. It’s also a great time to defrost and inventory the freezer. I know I’m not the only one guilty of forgetting what’s in the freezer. (I forgot about the golden Romano beans and ate some the other day. They tasted like Summer.)

What to do with overlooked frozen foods?

      • Fruit: make a pie or cobbler, use in smoothies, make jam or jelly, dehydrate into fruit snacks or fruit leather.
      • Vegetables: Use in a savory pie, dehydrate and make into powder for hiking/camping, make salsa, pasta sauce, or soup.

This is the perfect time of year for soup, isn’t it?

I was too embarrassed to share the "before" photo.
Freezer after defrosting, image courtesy of Buffy Rhoades

We had to move the freezer and let me tell ya folks, moving a full freezer is a good way to hurt your back. If you’re going to empty the freezer, you might as well defrost it. However, it takes a while and unfortunately, the afternoon we chose to defrost, I didn’t have anything planned for dindin. Burritos to the rescue!! They’re so versatile and easy. Pop some veg, beans, and rice into a tortilla, add salsa and bingo bango bongo! Dindin!

I usually make tomatillo salsa this way, but since we had tomatoes…

A happy mistake. How salsa became soup:

      • Toss half a coarsely chopped onion, 2 jalapeno, 4 smashed and peeled garlic cloves, and 6 Roma tomatoes in a small amount of cooking oil and place in an oven-proof skillet.
      • Put skillet under the broiler.
      • Meanwhile, coarsely chop half a bunch of cilantro. Small stems are okay.
      • Remove the skillet when contents are slightly charred, tender, and bubbly.
      • Let it cool down a bit, then blend in the blender.
      • *Caution* Do not put hot things in the blender! It will burn you and make a huge mess all over the kitchen. Ask me how I know this.
      • Squeeze some fresh lime juice and season with salt to taste.
      • Thin with water if desired. Garnish with cilantro.
Tomato salsa soup…a delicious accident!
Image courtesy of Buffy Rhoades

I was expecting a Salsa Verde consistency, but forgot that tomatillos have pectin and tomatoes don’t. It was warming and really satisfying. I ate some cold the next day and think it’ll make a tasty gazpacho in the Summer.

Kabocha squash, celery root, and leeks became the base for a pureed soup and a lentil soup.
Beginnings of two soups: Chunky Winter vegetables w lentils, and pureed Winter squash w celery root and leeks. Photo courtesy of Buffy Rhoades

Note: Do not can pureed soups or veggies. The dense texture of pureed vegetables prevents proper heat penetration and therefore cannot be relied upon to kill Botulism spores. Tip: Freeze purees. If preserving soup is on your meal prep/ food preservation checklist, the National Center for Home Food Preservation and OSU have excellent, safe resources to get you started.

These OSU Freezing publications share step-by-step instructions on pre-treating frozen fruits and veggies, how long things should be stored in the freezer, packaging and labeling, and foods that don’t freeze well.

List ingredients and date w waterproof marker on painters tape. Photo courtesy of Buffy Rhoades

Let’s just pause a moment and commit 2021 to avoiding “mystery” containers, shall we? 😉 A roll of painter’s tape, permanent marker, sturdy containers w tight-fitting lids, and zip-close freezer bags are basic and fairly inexpensive equipment to get started. Investing in a vacuum sealer is a smart move if you plan to do a lot of freezing because they protect your food from air and prevent freezer burn. I’ve tried freezing in canning jars and always end up with broken glass. Some folks don’t have trouble, but I have 100% of the time.

I don’t know when we’ll be back to in-person programming and classes, but our Master Food Preserver volunteers and myself are eager to answer questions, give tips, and encourage you on your path to preserving your harvest. Ask questions, please!

Take extra good care of yourselves. Tuck into a warm bowl of soup (or salsa?). Reach out to a friend. Take a walk. This too shall pass.

Keep up the good work. Stay curious. Be excellent to each other.

Buffy Rhoades| mom. forager. gardener. volunteer turned program assistant. a real busy beaver

instagram icon download 24x24 - curvedHealthy Together Newsletter  Website

Tiny Bubbles

Photo by Buffy Rhoades

I harvested the last peppers from my garden two weeks ago. Earlier this Spring, the stellar staff at Naomi’s Organic Garden Supply recommended a yellow chili pepper varietal that I planned to use in ferments. Sarit Gat, a slim, yellow, hot chili from Kosovo and a steady producer, provided colorful heat to my spicy dill pickles and was intended to become a base for fermented hot sauce.

Coriander blossoms and seeds are aromatic and interesting. So much better than dried… Image from Buffy Rhoades.

I’d planned on pairing it with the seemingly ever present green coriander seeds in the garden, along with ginger and garlic. I congratulated myself on planning holiday gifts while purchasing the seeds last February. *pat on the back*

Well…my first two batches failed. I wasn’t alone. Friends reported that their sauerkraut or pickles weren’t bubbling and were way too salty.

Ready for brine…
Image buy Buffy Rhoades

 

Failed batches are a learning opportunity, but we were following tested recipes, so I wasn’t sure what went wrong. Did any of you have issues with your ferments being too salty this year? Did Kahm yeast, that white film that ruins the flavor of ferments, colonize in your jars? Raise your hand if that happened to you too. *hand raised*

It’s important to understand how fermentation occurs so you can learn from your experiences. The subject of fermentation is diverse (pickles, wet-brine, dry-brine, vinegar, wine, beer, kombucha, sourdough, yogurt, cheese, charcuterie…) and is well covered by knowledgeable authors of famous books and university publications that provide step-by-step instructions, equipment recommendations, and trouble-shooting help.

All brined up and no where to go.
Image from Buffy Rhoades

We can’t review all these topics in one post, but will dig deeper in the future. (My friend, Kristina, is recommending a multi-part series to cover this topic.) Let me know if you’re interested in more fermenting content. For now, let’s take a look at evaluating pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

This may be putting the cart before the horse, but understanding the principles- the How It Works and Why We Do What We Do- can help you answer your own questions during the process. Every batch, every season, is different and knowing how to respond to this living project may be helpful as you get started.

So this is the low-down:

I purchased a new airlock system with glass weight to see if it prevented yeast development.
Image by Buffy Rhoades

Salt: It creates a beneficial environment for certain bacteria to grow and discourages growth of undesirable bacteria. It’s used to pull liquid from vegetables when dry-salting, a technique used when making sauerkraut, or as a brine to submerge vegetables, such as when making pickles. Only use pickling/canning salt, as not all salts are the same weight by volume and recipes are tested use this salt. It’s also free of additives.

Containers: Glass, food-grade plastic, and ceramic is okay. Avoid metal clasp-top lids because the acidity you’re striving for will eventually ruin them. I like glass containers because the tiny bubbles show active fermenting and I can see if all the bubbles have been released daily. Quart and half-gallon jars are great; place on a non-metal plate or pie tin to catch drips. 

A jelly jar fits nicely in wide-mouth quart jars. Image from Buffy Rhoades

 

Weights: You need something to keep your fermenting ingredients under liquid. This can be easier said than done, as little wispy things like to float. It’s important though, because fermentation bacteria thrive in anaerobic (air-free) environments. Large cabbage leaves or even a couple onion slices can act as the first layer to corral small vegetables or spices. You can go low-tech and use a zip-close bag or jelly jar filled with brine (or jelly), or ceramic or glass weights. I have zero luck using a plate. If it works for you… awesome-sauce. Please tell me what you do in the comments. FYI, The Joy of Pickling suggests using brine instead of water, just in case the bag leaks or the jar spills in your product. By the way, it’s not a matter of if it will leak. It’s a matter of when.

Note the onion slices acting as a first layer and the cloudy brine. Cloudy brine is normal.
Photo by Buffy Rhoades

Temperature: This is pretty cool to know. As a general rule of thumb, a slow ferment produces the most interesting flavor. The beginning bacteria like to start out around 60F and 72F. Too low and they have a hard time waking up. Temps higher than 80F and they’re likely to be soft and can skyrocket into what I think of as the Fast Track lactobacillus and can become very acidic, but not have much depth of flavor. Temps over 90F can result in rotting. Sometimes low temps are a good thing, like if you’re going away for the weekend and have no one to babysit your batch, you can pop it in the fridge, but is not ideal at the beginning of your ferment or for long term storage. 

Sequential growth of bacterial species with acid production during fermentation. Image from the amazing resource book Food Preservation and Safety: Principles and Practice.
by Shirley J. VanGarde and Margy Woodburn

What’s Happening In There? The initial fermenters, the first bacteria, are naturally present on the surface of the vegetables. (Yes, you should still wash the veggies before starting.) Salt, water, temperature, and providing an anaerobic environment help them outgrow the competition. They consume carbohydrates and convert them to acid. That conversion creates a new, optimum (acidic), environment for the next set of microbes, and so on. As they expire, they release gas (CO2) resulting in bubbles. 

Managing Brine: Now listen, this is important. Brine is not just salt water. Its the juices pulled from your vegetables. It’s the accumulation of different bacteria converting sugar to acid. It’s valuable stuff. It evolves with your vegetables. When your product is full of bubbles, don’t let them just sit there. Gently shake them out. They create pockets of air, something we want to avoid. Plus it’s a fun way to start the morning. Either way, you don’t want to lose this stuff. (Unless it’s thick and slimy, in which case you toss the contents, note what you did wrong and start over.) Which brings me to the major reason for loss of brine…

See that? Thats not enough headspace. Image by Buffy Rhoades

Headspace: Do not overfill the jar or container. It can be tempting to add “just a little bit more” to a nearly full jar. Please, I beg of you, learn from me and don’t do it. As your ferment becomes more active, it will overflow and if you’ve overfilled the jar, you’ll lose that valuable brine. (This is where the non-reactive plate or pie pan comes in handy.) Some overflow is natural and to be expected, but you don’t want to lose so much that you don’t have enough to cover your ingredients. When this happened I tried to push it down. Guess what. It didn’t work. I had to remove some kraut. Adding new brine at this point is too late, because the microbes have been hard at work creating a whole new environment. I called that failure a “teachable moment.”

Recipes: This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Imagine growing peppers from seed and reserved limited garden space to let your coriander plants go to seed, but for some reason used an untested recipe and, instead of fermenting, it became a salty host for Kahm yeast. Do yourself a favor, save time, money, and effort and use extension resources. OSU Extension’s Pickling Vegetables publication is a great place to start!

These take up quite a bit of fridge space. Image from Buffy Rhoades

Now What Do I Do? If left under the same conditions, your product will continue to ferment, but will move beyond peak quality and begin to deteriorate. You have a couple of options: 

  1. Store in the fridge. Eat it. Gift it.  It’ll be at peak flavor and texture for about 6-9 months, depending on the temperature of your fridge, but will be fine for about a year. The color will fade and texture will become softer but it won’t be unsafe.  Depending on how many ferments you have, this may take up a substantial amount of fridge space. Plan accordingly 🙂
  2. Preserve: If you eat fermented foods for its probiotic benefits, you won’t be interested in canning your sauerkraut, as it kills the probiotics. But did you know it’s possible to do so? If you decide to Boiling Water Can fermented pickles, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, OSU’s Pickling Vegetables, and other university publications have recipes to safely do so. Half-fermented products, like half-sours, cannot be processed because they haven’t developed the acid necessary to make it a safe product. Also, fully fermented pickles made from a tested recipe can be safely processed using Low Temperature Pasteurization, if indicated in the recipe.

With guidance from OSU Extension and Master Food Preserver Volunteer Program, I learned the science behind fermentation and gained confidence from my amazing teachers, but still make mistakes. We talk them over, share ideas, experiences, theories and learn from each other. In hindsight, I should have sanitized my equipment, since Kahm yeast likes to stick around a while. I managed to save the failed peppers by rinsing them and applying different preservation techniques. One batch went into the dehydrator to become powder, using the technique mentioned in Tomatoes and Autumn Sweaters, and the other batch is in 5% strength apple cider vinegar. It smells amazing and is nicely spicy. I see pickled onions in my future!

Sarit Gat gifts 2.0
Image by Buffy Rhoades

 

Don’t be discouraged by failure. If we’re lucky, we learn from it, right? 

Until next time friends… please comment, share, and visit the OSU Extension Clackamas County Family and Community Health (FCH) program’s Facebook and Instagram pages, learn new skills on our YouTube channel, read the latest installment of holiday topics in our newsletter, Healthy Together, and more on our website.  

 
Keep exploring, stay curious, and be excellent to each other!
 
Buffy Rhoades | mom. gardener. volunteer turned program assistant. a real busy beaver

Winter Squash and Wild Mushrooms

Kabocha and Butternut curing on the porch
Testukabuto squash samples at the Culinary Breeding Network

February 16th, I attended OSU’s Culinary Breeding Network Variety Showcase event, sadly one of my last public events before COVID-19, and sampled a Tetsukabuto cream filled Purple Karma barley waffle cone. It blew my mind. Creamy texture and not-too-sweet, the squash was a perfect marriage with the dark chocolate-lined barley waffle cone. I planted Kabocha seeds and plan to attempt to replicate this dish.

Folks love the comfort-food quality of pumpkin and warm spices, and often ask how they can preserve their winter squash. Unfortunately, pressure canning pumpkin (or other winter squash) puree is unsafe. The density of the low-acid puree prevents thorough heat penetration, creating a serious food-safety risk of Botulism. If your “Charlie Brown Pumpkin Patch” has produced more than your freezer can accommodate, consider canning them in cubes and puree after opening the jar. Also, check out Food Hero’s winter squash and pumpkin recipes, nutrition information, coloring sheets…so much goodness… on their website

Pumpkin soup and pepitas. Photo courtesy of Tina Vanhove on Unsplash.

Can’t find jars or lids? Remember the dehydrator and powder technique I shared in the last post, Tomatoes and Autumn Sweaters? This technique works for winter squash too. Wash, cut in half and roast, leaving the skin on, until soft. Scoop out the flesh and mash or puree. Gently cook it down to the consistency of canned pumpkin and add spices to the pulp for pie filling or soup base. Dehydrate on a leather tray at 135 degrees f until crispy. Break into shards and grind into powder and store in an airtight container. Don’t waste the seeds! Toasted Pumpkin seeds, aka Pepitas, are delicious and full of nutrients. Instructions here.

Golden Chanterelle photo by Buffy Rhoades

My favorite seasonal treat, wild mushrooms, present a similar issue when it comes to preserving. Freezing and dehydrating are the only research-based, university-approved methods to preserve wild mushrooms. Mushrooms have a low pH (6.2) and are a food safety risk for Botulism. Due to their uniform size and density, commercially-grown button mushrooms have been researched, resulting in safe, tested recipes. Chanterelles and other edible fungi have not been tested. (I would love to see research on other safe ways to preserve Oregon’s state mushroom.) Until then, I’ll happily forage, freeze, and dehydrate.

I like the effect of dry sautéing mushrooms. It releases their juices and yields a beautifully caramelized mushroom, perfect for dehydrating or freezing. Instead of boiling away the mushroom juices, I save them in a container to use as broth for freezing. (Or mushroom gravy.) If freezing, I add a tiny amount of butter or olive oil at the end of cooking so the mushrooms get somewhat crispy, but I don’t add fat during the cooking process if dehydrating them. (The oil can become rancid over time.) 

When fully cooked, cool, label, and store in the freezer

 

FYI, button mushrooms do not need to be cooked before drying, but due to the fibrous nature of chanterelles, they benefit from pre-cooking. Our Master Food Preserver dehydrating guru, Don Wiley, explained that the cell structure of most vegetables, and this includes fibrous mushrooms like chanterelles, needs to be broken down before drying so they aren’t tough and rubbery when reconstituted. (Steaming is a fine method of pre-treatment.) After dehydrating, consider grinding them up for an easy mushroom soup base, perfect for backpacking or camping, or leave whole. Sealed in an airtight container or vacuum sealer, they’ll keep for months to years. Thank you Don!

 

Until next time, friends… enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather and fruits of the season. Look for more information on the OSU Extension Family and Community Health program on FacebookInstagramYouTube, our website, and newsletter.

Keep exploring, stay curious, and be excellent to each other!
 
Buffy | mom. gardener. volunteer turned program assistant. a real busy beaver