As we made our westward journey from West Virginia to Oregon we spent a couple of nights in Sisters with our new landlords, Cathy and David Sewell. It gave us a wonderful chance to get to know each other and David was kind enough to take us up into the Cascades to look for chanterelles. We stopped at different elevations and brought home a decent amount. He taught us how to recognize them and the way to remove them so the area can continuing growing more mushrooms.
It was a lot of fun to think we could forage public land and find something edible….as long we we knew what we were looking for. We asked David who could help us once we got to McMinnville but it took almost two months before we finally connected. Two weekends ago Graham, Lisa, Dan and I went looking in the area we thought David had mentioned and found nothing. It could be we were not in the right place or, more likely, it could be that we went Sunday afternoon and other people had already picked the area clean before us that weekend.
Last Saturday morning Chris Chennel, our local expert, offered to show us good areas in the western section of the Coastal Range near McMinnville and sure enough, it was a bit different from where we had gone the week before. It was a nice haul and we researched on the web and with friends how to preserve the chanterelles. When Dan returned this past weekend with his friend Caroline, they went with Lisa and Jana Brown’s family to find more. We processed this batch as well and I thought I would share how, in case you are lucky to find some.
We learned that drying the mushrooms is not a good choice as they do not rehydrate well. However, freezing will work.
First the need to be trimmed. More experienced people who don’t get carried away by the excitement of the find actually take a second or two to do this immediately. They also brush off a lot of the loose dirt right there in the woods. Instead, we carried it all home and had to trim
The mushrooms will start to exude liquid and reduce in size. When the level of the mushrooms and liquid are equal, turn off the burner. Using a slotted spoon to minimize taking the liquid, put mushrooms into muffin tins.
They freeze into “hockey pucks” overnight. Put on the counter for about 5 minutes and then using a flat blade, like a table knife, you can pop them out the muffin tin. They can keep in the freezer for your use in cooked dishes.
Meanwhile, the broth in the dutch oven also should be frozen as it will make a great base for vegetable soup or cream of mushroom soup.