Recipe by

Pickled Hen of the Woods

Makes 1 quart

Each year, a dear friend offers us an enormous maitake mushroom (also known as hen of the woods). We fry up some of it with butter and eggs, but the rest needs preserving. One of my favorite ways to preserve a mushroom is in pickling liquid, which allows you to enjoy it as a pre-dinner snack along with some crackers and cheese throughout the fall and into the holiday season. The method of preservation involves a combination of oil, which becomes infused with the mushroom’s earthy scents, and vinegar, which gives the mushroom a sharp flavor.

2 cups rice wine vinegar

1 cup white wine

12 peppercorns

4 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 pound cleaned mushrooms, cut into bite-size pieces

2 strips orange peel

Extra virgin olive oil, to cover

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, white wine, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms, cook for 1–2 minutes, and turn off the heat. Let cool. Strain the mushroom mixture, then place it in a 16-ounce mason jar along with the orange peel. It should just about reach the top of the jar. Fill the jar with olive oil to preserve. Cover and keep it on the counter. The mushrooms will last 2–3 months if submerged in oil. Snack on the mushrooms along with cured meats, cheeses, and crackers before meals.

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