Nerding-Out Over Mushrooms

This is a guest post from Member Chef Samuel Monsour, Chef & Author | | Los Angeles, CA

The other day I decided to pickle some shrooms. I do that a lot in the fall for some reason. Pickling. It just feels right. I’m no expert on the subject, but I’m pretty sure that it’s pickling season. Anyway, I’ve done my fair share of pickling shrooms. Most often, I choose dried shitakes. They bloom nicely, take on a ton of flavor, impart a ton of flavor into the pickling brine, and yield a pretty great texture – especially given the fact that they’re dried.

However, I’ve been on a mushroom kick lately, the kind of kick that involves seeking out variety. I’ve been inspired to learn more about fungi and familiarize myself with the flavor profiles, cooking preferences, and textures of whatever I can get my hands on that doesn’t include white button, cremini, porto, shitake and oyster. Don’t get me wrong, these are great shrooms! It’s just that I almost feel like I have to go out of my way to avoid the convenience of these varieties if I’m ever going to step up my mushroom game.

Back in September, at this year’s Chefs Collaborative Sustainable Food Summit in Boulder, I joined mushroom expert Michael Heim and a bunch of other mushroom nerds for a super cool hands-on breakout session. We went foraging in the Rockies during the peak of the fall foliage season, and it was simply breathtaking.


Michael doing his thang on the trail.


Hiking in search of mushrooms!

On our hike, Michael taught us so much cool stuff about mushrooms! Plus, emailed us a supplemental hand out for us to reference in the future. In short: dude’s the man! And a great hugger.

chunky shroom2

A chunky shroom.


Wood ear mushroom.

Anyway, I want to keep this post short; everyone I know is busier than busy this time of year. I think it’s really cool that our experiences at each year’s Summit do not just get stashed away in our memories. We learn practical information that we can apply to our kitchens, and we also walk away feeling inspired – and with an ever stronger network of like-minded folks that are always down to help out for a good cause.

So as Turkey Day approaches, I’d just like to give thanks to all my family at Chefs Collaborative. For always being accessible, supportive, informative, inspiring, and also, for offering me a scholarship to attend this years badass Summit!

Oh yeah, the pickled mushrooms. I ended up going with Maitakes, and I think they came out really tasty. Their flavors definitely work with winter. If you’re interested in jarring some up yourself, here’s the recipe. It’s very basic, fast, and easy. I incorporated mine into a salad of turnips, beets, crab apples, and petite greens. I bet they’d go great on a burger with something funky like Taleggio as well.

Pickled Maitakes

  • 4 ounces Maitake Mushrooms, base removed and hand torn into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1” chunk of ginger, sliced thin

Pickled Maitakes

Pickled maitakes

Place all ingredients except mushrooms in small pot, bring to gentle simmer and allow to simmer for 3 minutes.

In the meantime, place maitakes in a non-reactive jar of your choice (preferably one with an airtight lid).

Once brine has simmered for 3 minutes, pour into jar over mushrooms. Allow to steep uncovered at room temp for one hour.

Seal tight and refrigerate. Ready to eat next day but taste great after 3 days.

Chef & Author |
Food Activist |

Mycelium on the forest ground2

Mycelium on the forest ground.

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

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