Chanterelles, and Dianna's chanterelle vodka recipe
After 2 months of solid drought followed by 2 weeks of solid rain, we finally have actual August in the produce department: potatoes, beets and basil, tomatoes, summer squash and beans…Plus way more lettuce than we can eat which must be harvested before it bolts but where to put it is a problem because the refrigerator is full of mushrooms.
I try to be disciplined and process everything we’ve picked before going out for more, but I don’t do any better with that than with taking out a plant for every new plant I acquire.
There are still some boletes left from last week, for instance, because I got sidetracked dealing with the chanterelles.
The big one is the classic chanterelle of commerce, Cantharellus cibarius. The little guys (no common names) are a mixture of C. ignicolor – the all-yellow ones – and fragrant, tasty C. tubaeformis, which is unusually abundant this year. *
Unlike boletes, chanterelles don’t dry well. To preserve them you have to cook and freeze them or pickle them if you don’t hate pickled mushrooms or – a much better and easier course – make Dianna’s chanterelle vodka.
At least that’s how I think of it, because our friend and fellow mushroomer Dianna Smith is the one who turned us on to it.
“Turn on” is the correct phrase; it’s frighteningly addictive. You feel like you’re drinking pure chanterelle and although the vodka has, if anything, slightly less alcohol than normal on account of the moisture in the mushrooms, it certainly doesn’t feel that way.
Dianna’s vodka recipe follows. Dianna’s gorgeous and informative mushroom website is here.
I just cut up about 20 yellow chanterelles and stuffed them into a large mason jar, poured good vodka over them and allowed them to marinate for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Before bottling, I sifted the larger particles out through cheesecloth and then poured the vodka into a nice big bottle. For ‘decorative effect’ I added a Cinnabar-red chanterelle that had been in the general yellow chanterelle concoction.
Recipe note: She means it when she says “good vodka.” The first time we made it we used el cheapo, which works fine when you’re making the infusion of hot peppers I made in college and called firewater ( in the pre-flavored vodka days). El cheapo does not work fine with chanterelles. Our current alas rather expensivo favorite is Cold River, made in Maine from Maine potatoes let’s hear it for local produce.
The jar I started about a week ago is on the left. The one I started today is on the right. If you fill the jar with chopped chanterelles, not cheating but also not pressing down hard to really pack them in, you will have plenty for flavoring purposes and should not be surprised when they all float to the to top – and eventually sink to the bottom.
* This is an edited version of an earlier description, which did not distinguish between the two smaller chanterelles.