Preparing, cooking and storing Maitake
Anything you can do with
button mushrooms you can try with Maitake!
Since a collection of
Maitake Mushrooms as big as forty
or fifty pounds are common near my home, I have tried a variety of
ways to store this bounty of fall, to get me through our long winters.
You can dry it, if you can put up with the smell!
You can can it, many people do, but I have an easier method.
I get together with a few appreciative friends and we have a ritual
mushroom cleaning party. Armed with a knife, a towel, a bowl and lots of freezer bags, we
sit, chat, clean and bag. Then we pop the bags directly into the freezer. That's it. no
pre-cooking or par-boiling. If your freezer stays good and cold the mushrooms can last for
two years. We try to use reasonable serving size bags because when you use them it's
easier to use a whole (small) bag, then to try to break the frozen clump. We also chop the
mushrooms into different size pieces in different bags to use different ways. I have a
friend from Laos who has some dramatic recipes using Maitake strips about two inches long
and a quarter inch wide and she cuts the mushrooms to size before freezing them.
Of course, the
cleaner the better when bagging because you'll want to defrost right in the pan. If the
mushrooms you find were growing under a rotten tree, the mushroom can actually grow around
the wood particles and they'll be embedded in the mushroom flesh. Those mushrooms may not
worth cleaning unless its all you have.
Try Maitake in anything you would use white button mushrooms in and try
them alone fried with butter and salt. Cook it until crispy or cook until they're just
done. It's a very versatile and delicious mushroom. Freshly picked and
cooked Maitake are delicious, and a large find (like this one shown) will help get you though the
- Roy Reehil
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