I'll just get this out of the way: I fell off the wagon last month. I was frustrated with my tiny kitchen that makes everything an ordeal. I was frustrated with the lack of anything local to can since this challenge started. So I messed up. I didn't can anything. I bought some beautiful onions and I had no inspiration. I'm sorry.
I think I've come through this time with an amazing recipe.
Thyme Pickled Mushrooms
2lbs locally grown white button mushroom
A large bunch of locally grown thyme
2-3T green peppercorns
3T kosher salt
So, I realized the other week that pickled mushrooms are very likely to be delicious. And I knew that I'd be able to get some local herbs for sure this month. And local mushrooms. There are a couple of people that grow them year round here. So I thought about my favorite herbs. Well, my favorite one by far happens to be thyme. And thyme goes great with mushrooms. And lemon.
There's this amazing mushroom-leek phyllo pastry that I make every Thanksgiving from the Moosewood Celebrates cookbook. The flavor is awesome. The ingredients: mushrooms, leeks, thyme, lemon, sherry, and tofu. I wanted to sort of translate the mushroom-thyme-lemony goodness into pickled mushrooms.
So I started to research how to pickle mushrooms. Except several of the recipes had you boil the mushrooms, then pour olive oil over them and then water bath process them. That doesn't sound all that excellent to me. The oil scares me specifically. I've got a pressure cooker for those kinds of things. The one thing that the recipes all had in common was to boil the mushrooms first.
So I figured that's what I'd do. Only, I want to cook the mushrooms in something flavorful so that they get completely infused with the thyme. So I made a pickle brine to cook the mushrooms in. Here's what I did:
First, cut the mushrooms into quarters. most recipes tell you to cut off most of the stem. I didn't. I don't mind eating mushrooms stems.
Then I made a thyme pickle brine as follows.
In a large pot mix together the following:
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1 t green peppercorns
1 lemon cut into 8ths
and a huge handful of thyme, don't worry about the stems, just throw it all in there
oh, and a piece of a dried hot red pepper
Bring the brine to a boil and add the quartered mushrooms. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until the mushrooms are reduced in size.
Next, I poured the mushrooms off into a colander and mixed up another batch of brine identical to the first batch.
Into each jar I put an eighth of a lemon and a generous handful of thyme along with a couple of green peppercorns. Then, I shoved as many mushrooms into the jar as I could. Go ahead and pack them in there tightly.
Then pour the boiling brine into the jar leaving 1/2" of headroom. Poke out all the air bubbles. The mushrooms are really good at catching air as the brine gets poured in.
Wipe the rims clean, put on the jar lids and bands and process for 20 minutes in a water bath. I went for 30 minutes 'cause of the altitude. I probably should have only gone 25 minutes, but I like to be on the safe side.
I think that these will be like most pickles, the longer you wait to crack a jar open, the better the flavor will be. Give it a month, then crack these babies open.