unearthed® blog

Mushroom picking in Sweden

Our intrepid colleague Maria heads back to her Motherland in search of mushrooms.

After ten days in the West Gothland of Sweden, the hustle and bustle of Elephant & Castle in South London seems particularly intrusive and once again I catch myself thinking, why am I living in this city when I could be surrounded by pristine nature? Actually, the reason why, is because the thought of not being able to nip into a pub, have foods from every possible corner of the world on my doorstep and unlimited access to culture and all the food markets make London worth the lack of forests, fresh air and wild mushrooms.

It was all very tasty, but to be honest, wild Chanterelle mushrooms do taste best when simply fried in butter with a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper and placed on toast or in an omelette.

In July/August the wild chanterelle mushrooms start popping up in the Swedish forests. Picking them does take a bit of practise and not everyone is able to spot them, me being one of them! Actually, I am pretty damn rubbish at spotting them, but I am fortunate enough to have a step father who happens to have a “trained eye” and is kind enough to allow me to tag along. Despite my tender age of 40, he still pretends I am the one who actually finds them, bless him….

So, what do you need when picking mushroom? Well nothing much apart from a basket lined with a news paper, wellington boots and an insane amount of mosquito repellent to keep the little buggers at bay. Some people bring knives and pastry brushes to remove pine needles, sand, moss and other things that may be on the mushrooms, but I think it’s easier to remove this once you have allowed the mushrooms to dry a bit. This is done by spreading the mushrooms out on some newspaper in room temperature and leave them for 12-24h. This also allows you to have a glass of vino or two whilst undertaking the pretty dull task of brushing the caps of all the mushrooms…..

The last time we went out mushroom picking we found c.5 litres of wild Chanterelle mushrooms, or Forest Gold, as we call them back home. Whilst in the forest we stumbled across an old wolf-hole. These were dug in the old days when there were plenty of wolves in the Southern parts of Sweden. Once dug, the farmers would place an old sheep in the hole and cover the hole with branches and leaves. The sheep would start baaing, attract the wolf, which would fall in and the rest I leave for your imagination….. it may sound barbaric, but the logic was to rather sacrify one sheep rather than having numerous killed by the wolf.

Once cleaned, the wild chanterelle mushrooms were used for a lasagne which was made by frying the mushrooms in some butter with garlic & onion and layer the lasagne sheets with béchamel sauce, mushrooms, truffle oil and parmesan. YUMMIE!! We also made a pasta dish where we friend the mushrooms with chopped onions, poured in a bit of cream and crumbled in some Danish blue. This was left to boil for a couple of minutes and before serving with tagliatelle a handful of chopped parsley was added to the sauce. It was all very tasty, but to be honest, wild Chanterelle mushrooms do taste best when simply fried in butter with a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper and placed on toast or in an omelette.

Update – watch Carl Pendle’s beautiful film ‘Mushroom Hunting’. Filmed in the UK featuring Nick Westacott, it was the 3rd place unearthed food in film documentary winner. A category of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year Award

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