Pickled Mushrooms

TO PICKLE MUSHROOMS
Take your Buttons, clean ym with a spunge & put ym in cold water as you clean ym, then put ym dry in a stewpan & shake a handfull of salt over ym, yn stew ym in their own liquor till they are a little tender; then strain ym from ye liquor & put ym upon a cloath to dry till they are quite cold. Make your pickle before you do your Mushrooms, yt it may be quite cold before you put ym in. The pickle must be made with White-Wine, White-Pepper, quarter’d Nutmeg, a Blade of Mace, & a Race of ginger.

Take your Buttons, clean then with a spunge and put them in cold water as you clean them, then put them dry in a stewpan and shake a handful of salt over them, then stew them in their own liquor till they are a little tender; then strain them from the liquor and put them upon a cloth to dry until they are quite cold. Make your pickle before you do your mushrooms, so it may be quite cold before you put them in. The pickle must be made with white wine, white pepper, quartered nutmeg, a blade of mace, and a race of ginger.

Contrary to popular belief, there were some vegetables that were extremely popular in Elizabethan times. One dish that was becoming more popular was the Sallat, which like modern salads were composed of leaves, vegetables such as cucumbers and mushrooms, nuts and dried fruits. They were arranged to look beautiful on a plate, but of course there were times of year when popular sallat foods simply weren’t available. This is where pickling recipes like this one would have come in – in the autumn when mushrooms were plentiful, they would have been gathered and pickled en-masse to be available all year round.

Ingredients

1.5kg mushrooms 1 tsp white pepper corns
500mL white wine 1/4 of a whole nutmeg
approx. 1/2 cup of salt 1/2 tsp mace
1 piece dried ginger

Method

  1. In a mortar and pestle, roughly crush the pepper corns and mace. Using a grater, grate the ginger and the nutmeg (grate a whole nutmeg until you have used a quarter of it).
  2. Put the spices and the wine in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, then leave to cool completely.
  3. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stalks.
  4. Put the mushrooms in a heavy bottomed pan, then throw the salt over them. Heat the mushrooms well and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have coloured and shrunk considerably. A lot of liquid will leach out of them.
  5. Strain the mushrooms, and put on a towel so they can dry and cool.
  6. When both the mushrooms and pickling wine are completely cool, put the mushrooms into a sterilised jar and pour over the pickling liquid. If there is any spice residue, pack this on top. Ensure the mushrooms are completely covered by the liquid.
  7. Keep the jar of mushrooms in a cool, dark place and leave to steep – the longer they steep the better.

Notes

  • Lady Fettiplace would not have had access to fresh ginger, and if you can find whole dried ginger it’s a revelation. I found some in an Indian grocers and it smells incredible.
  • Mace and nutmeg come from the same plant, Myrstica fragrans. Nutmeg is the seed in the middle of the fruit, and mace is a lacy membrane that surrounds this seed. Even though they come from the same plant, they have quite different tastes, and you can’t really substitute extra nutmeg for mace.
  • You will lose a lot of volume from the mushrooms as you are stewing them in the salt. We lost over 600g of weight – at the end of the process, we had 830g of mushrooms after starting out with 1.5kg.

Pickled mushrooms

Further Reading

Click on the links below to buy direct from The Book Depository.
Spurling, Hilary (2011). Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book.

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