Report from the 2013 Winter Potluck of the Arizona Mushroom Club

Last week, the Arizona Mushroom Club met in Phoenix for its traditional annual winter potluck supper. Turnout was good with over 35 people attending, including several new members and interested visitors.  As usual, a good number of desirable door prizes were handed out via raffle tickets.

Dinner was delicious and more than anyone could eat. Just for fun, I bought some candy caps (Lactarius rubidus) from Far West Fungi in San Francisco, and made a cheesecake with them according to a recipe from local foodie haven SkilletDoux.  I chose a less elaborate caramel sauce than the original recipe calls for, with bacon candied in brown sugar along with bits of candied white king boletes (Boletus barrowsii).  But if I may say so, this did not dampen my fellow members’ appetite for the unusual concoction, and I was lucky to save one piece to take home to my wife.

I eagerly used up all the candy caps before I thought to take a picture of them, so all you can see of them in this gallery is the empty bag!  They give the most delightful light maple-syrup scent and flavor. If you tried this dessert at the dinner, I swear there was not one drop of actual maple syrup in it. The candy-caps are the only flavoring.  They would also do well in savory sauces with meat dishes such as pork, duck, or ribs.

The evening discussion topic was mushroom preservation, and we heard from many members regarding a number of methods they have used successfully.

Drying is the most common way to put up a surplus, either naturally on strings or racks, or in a dehydrator. The mushrooms can be powdered afterwards for use in soups, sauces, and rubs. This works especially well for boletes, which show a satisfying concentration of their flavor, but is not so suitable for chanterelles and oysters.

Many of our members freeze excess mushrooms, typically after partially pre-cooking them in oil, or parboiling or blanching. One trick that was mentioned was freezing them in solid blocks of ice to prevent freezer burn and dehydration.

Some people pickle, brine, or can their mushrooms, and recipes and safety precautions for these techniques were discussed.  Pickled chanterelles and lobster mushrooms are said by those in the know to be particularly good.  Both of those types of fungi are not preserved very well by drying, so this was good information to file away for when they are found in abundance on future forays.

This winds up the club’s activities until April or May, when a morel foray may be in the cards if we have received enough moisture. Pray for snow!  And if anyone has mushroom fever that can’t wait that long, and wants to road-trip to the California coast for a winter foray, let me know or leave a comment in the Ride Sharing forum.

About Christopher May

Chris is a radiologist in private practice in Scottsdale. He is married to Barbara May, with two grown children, Megan and Nick.
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