Exploring along our creek bed the other day, I came upon this beautiful cluster of “honey” mushrooms (armillaria sp.) and harvested a full 5-gal bucket of them! Here’s the process I used to clean and preserve them:
The stems of the armillaria “honey” mushroom are woody and stringy, so they need to be discarded.
After cutting off the caps, there are a couple ways to clean them:
- Soak them in cold salt water for an hour or so to make sure all the creepy crawlies are dead
- Use a sink sprayer and give them a thorough spray with cold water, making sure to spray out the folds underneath of all tiny bugs and/or dirt that inevitably gets stuck in the gills.
After cleaning, cut the larger caps into halves or fourths.
PRESERVING: Now the next step(s) varies, depending on how you are going to preserve them.
To dehydrate them, it is best to string up the pieces and hang them in a dry place for several weeks. Rehydrate in cold salt water, then cook thoroughly before adding to recipes.
To can them, use the following procedure: (need to know a little about the canning process, as this won’t be a detailed “how-to”)
- Boil the mushrooms in salt water for 5 minutes. Drain.
- Sterilize 1/2 pint or smaller jars, lids and rings.
- Stuff drained mushrooms into the jars, leaving 1″ head space.
- Put 1/2 tsp kosher (non-iodized) salt into each jar.
- Pour clean, boiling water into jars until 1/2″ head space and get rid of bubbles.
- Hand tighten lids and rings and process in Pressure Canner at 10# pressure (or whatever your altitude calls for) for 40 minutes.
- Let cool for several hours before removing rings and storing.
The resulting honey mushroom which is ready for recipes, has a natural thickener and can be used to slightly thicken soups, stews and gravies. You will also notice, if cooking them fresh, it will have a slimy residue similar to okra. To get rid of that, be sure to boil for at least 2 minutes in salt water, drain and rinse with hot water and pat dry before sauteéing or using in other recipes.
NOTE: Please make sure you are VERY positive of the mushroom ID of any wild mushroom you harvest. Make sure it is an edible species, and research the cooking or preserving process for each species before attempting to feed them to yourself or your loved ones!