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Preparing, cooking and storing Maitake

Anything you can do with button mushrooms you can try with Maitake!

griftable.jpg (95479 bytes)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.

lot-of-cleaning.jpg (87376 bytes)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 winter!

- Roy Reehil

Happy Hunting!

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