Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Tiny Bubbles

I'm pretty sure that the USDA home canning website would NOT approve of the "funghi trifolati" recipe that I received a while back from another mushroom forager.  Last December, after picking a small amount of chanterelles & blewits, I decided I wanted to try my hand at it.

First - here's the recipe as I received it:

With all the chantrelles you have, I thought I would pass on my favorite way to store them.  I learned this from my Italian friend's mom. It is a variation of funghi trifolati.  This stuff goes fast!

You need basic glass jar canning supplies.
  • A LOT of rough-chopped chanterelles (or other mushrooms--honey mushrooms, porcini and oyster are great).  It is cool when you get little ones to leave them as whole as possible.
  • thinly sliced garlic
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • chopped thyme
  • a lot of good olive oil
  • pickling brine:
    Fill a very large stock pot (big enough to accommodate this brine and a good quantity of your mushrooms) about half-full of water. Add enough quality salt so it tastes about like sea water (saltier than you think). Add quality cider or white wine vinegar to equal about half the volume of the water. Add bay leaf, peppercorns and whatever else you like to taste.

  1. Sterilize jars.
  2. Bring brine to a strong simmer.
  3. Add mushrooms and let them cook for two minutes after the brine comes back to a strong simmer. Strain the mushrooms from the brine as you jar them (you want them hot). Keep the brine, it is awesome in salad dressings.
  4. With a sterilized slotted spoon or tongs add a layer of mushrooms, straight from the hot brine, to the bottom of a jar.
  5. Add a layer of your chopped herbs and garlic.
  6. Then add a layer of olive oil. repeat this process until you are about half-inch fro the top of the jar and fill this space with olive oil.
  7. Tap the jars on a hard surface to try and coax excess air to the top.
  8. Put the lid on the jar and store for at least a couple of weeks in a cool, dark place.
The mushrooms take on an amazing, oily-crunchy texture after time and all the flavors blend. the stored mushrooms are beautiful, in layers of gold and green. I have kept them like this for over a year. Some people worry about the addition of raw herbs and garlic and blanch them.

After reading a bunch of recipes, looking at the Ball Blue Book for canning mushrooms, this is basically what I did:

  1. Prepare brine of vinegar & salt with spices, bring to a boil.
  2. Add peeled & coarsely chopped garlic to brine, return to simmer for several minutes
  3. Once garlic is soft, add mushrooms and simmer til liquid seems to be released from the mushrooms (several minutes).
  4. Strain mushrooms & layer mushrooms in sterilized quart jar with steam blanched chopped green herbs (parsley, oregano, rosemary) and olive oil.  Cover with olive oil.
I let the jars sit on the counter for about 6 weeks, opening them up to try them in late January - delicious!  I shared some with other friends, the mushrooms were delicious and nobody suffered any ill effects. Two nights ago, when I opened the jar the lid made a slight "pop" like there was a build up of gases when I opened the chanterelles and it made a slight pop when I opened the jar.  My friend and I ate some anyway and they tasted good, we didn't get sick.

Today when I was cleaning in the kitchen, I noticed that the gas had built up again in the chanterelles.  I also noticed some very tiny tiny bubbles coming up, continuously, through the top layer of olive oil which had turned  a darker color.

On closer inspection (and in daylight, not like two nights ago), I noticed that there was some milky white sediment in the bottom.  There also seemed to be a LOT of air bubbles, pea size and bigger.  I had carefully used a butter knife to remove air bubbles and a fork/spoon to press down the contents when I filled the jars.

I pulled out a bamboo chopstick to explore and release some bubbles and noticed some of the larger pieces of garlic felt a bit firm and when I pushed on them - they released  alot of milky goo.    I also noticed, much to my surprise, that the bottom 2-3" of the jar was not olive oil but liquid (brine? juice?). 

Not wanting to risk botulism, I chucked just over 1/2 jar each of chanterelle & blewit pickle. Very sad.

Has this ever happened to you with this process?  What did I do wrong?  Was I wrong to chuck the mushrooms?  Is this an issue with the garlic? 

I had a similar experience with some tomato sauce I made last fall -- unlike the previous 20 years, I decided to put in some herbs and garlic.  The sauce cooked at a simmer for over 12 hours - it was damned hot!  I canned it in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.  However, when I opened the jars from that batch - there were tiny rising continuous bubbles in the sauce.  I reheated the sauce and simmered it for over an hour, after it cooled - it still had these weird bubbles (so I chucked it).

What's up with the carbonation?  Any canning mavens out there got any ideas?

    1 comment:

    CallieK said...

    Any time you have gas bubbles appearing in a supposedly sterilized jar I'd be suspicious too. It means there's some kind of gas producing agent at work, likely bacteria, and without knowing which kind it's a bit too risky. Do you add acidity to your tomato sauce? With tomatoes being questionably acidic enough on their own that tiny bit of herb and garlic might have just tipped it in the wrong direction on the pH scale. If you add a tablespoon of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to each jar you should be fine. Can't help you on the mushrooms tho.