Italian Marinated Mushrooms

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Italian marinated mushrooms in a bowl
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Funghi sott’olio. So much more than just an Italian version of marinated mushrooms.

I’ve eaten these as part of an antipasti plate since I was a kid. Standard marinated mushrooms, let’s face it, can be slippery and even rubbery. Not a great texture. But these are meaty, chewy and just a shade funky — mushroomy in all the best ways.

I never really knew exactly how the Italians did it until I read Rosetta Costantino’s My Calabria. In it, Costantino reveals her family’s method for preserving mushrooms in oil, and when I read her recipe, I was immediately struck by how similar it is to a Sicilian technique I use every year when I have too much zucchini. Makes sense, as Calabria is only a few miles from Sicily.

Basically you need to remove water from the mushrooms, then boil them in vinegar, then dry them out a bit before submerging in oil. It is a method I’ve seen done with a lot of foods, even meat on occasion. What this particular do-si-do of preservation does is first use salt to pull the existing water from the food.

Once the food is reasonably dry, acidify it with vinegar — bad bugs find it tough to survive in low Ph environments. Finally, keep air (and molds) off the food by submerging it in olive oil.

You should know there is no official USDA protocol for this method of preservation. Costantino tried to get the government to give its vaguely papal gesture for her recipe, but they declined. Suffice to say it works: The Italians have been doing it for centuries, if not millennia.

I tested this method with five kinds of mushrooms: button mushrooms, hedgehog mushrooms, chanterelles, lobster mushrooms and porcini. You need a meaty mushroom to begin with or this method will not work.

Other species that make good marinated mushrooms are blewits, pig’s ears (Gomphus clavatus), shiitake, matsutake, king trumpet mushrooms, and maybe chicken of the woods. Bottom line: The mushroom needs a little heft.

That’s why porcini and their boletus cousins are the ideal. Try this with a leccinum or a birch bolete and you’ll transform a mediocre mushroom into something special.

A few pointers to start:

  • Wash your mushrooms and trim any bad spots. Be sure the mushrooms are not wormy.
  • Use high quality ingredients: Good olive oil, sea salt, quality vinegar, good lemons. You can definitely taste the difference.
  • Store your mushrooms in glass containers, in the fridge. It is entirely probable that they are shelf stable, but I am not a fan of botulism, so I keep mine in the refrigerator.

The recipe that follows is approximate. You may need more or less of the ingredients to fit your containers. One tip: Start with more mushrooms than you think you need. They shrink a lot in this process, and are so good you will run out long before you’re tired of eating them.

Italian marinated mushrooms
4.87 from 22 votes

Italian Marinated Mushrooms

This method of preserving them highlights how meaty certain mushrooms can be, and the marinade is a perfect blend of Southern Italian flavors: lemon, chile, olive oil, oregano. I have found that boletes are the best for this: porcini, birch boletes, leccinum species and the like. But any other meaty mushroom works. For store-bought, use cremini, shiitake or king trumpets. You don't need any special equipment to make these mushrooms, but you need time. It takes a day to make them -- or at least a couple hours if you have a dehydrator. But the time spent is more than worth it.
Course: Condiment, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 1 pint
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 3 to 4 pounds meaty mushrooms
  • 1 quart white vinegar or cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt or pure sea salt, finely ground
  • Zest of a lemon, sliced into wide strips
  • 4 dried hot chiles, split lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • Cut the mushrooms into reasonable pieces. With small mushrooms, like a button mushroom, you need only cut them in half, and you can leave the smaller ones whole. With large chanterelles and porcini, cut them into 1/2 inch thick slices. They will shrink a lot in this process, and they will be pliable, so they can be a little larger than you'd think they ought to be.
  • Salt them well. Lay down a layer of salt on a sheet tray and place the mushrooms on it. If the mushroom has a flat side, i.e., a button mushroom sliced in half, lay the flat side down against the salt. Sprinkle a heavy layer of salt over the tops of all the mushrooms.
  • Let this stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. You will notice a lot of water coming out of the mushrooms. This is good. Note that I have left the "sponge" on the porcini in the pictures. I no longer do this because the sponge gets really slimy and icky in this process, and tends to stick to everything. Better to remove the sponge and dry it. It makes great porcini powder.
  • Put the mushrooms between paper towels and gently squeeze them a bit to remove a little more water.
  • Boil them in the vinegar for five minutes; you might need more vinegar than a quart, but it should get you started. The mushrooms will want to float. Use tongs or something to submerge them as much as you can. Fish out the mushrooms and put them between paper towels again and gently squeeze them to remove some of the vinegar.
  • Lay the mushrooms on a clean cloth to dry. Let them air dry until they are no longer damp, but still pliable. Don't let them dry out into leather. Turn the mushrooms once or twice during this time. This will take between 12 to 24 hours, depending on how dry it is in your house and how much air circulation you have going. You can also use a dehydrator to speed up the process, but keep an eye on it: Mushrooms can go from perfect to leather in a hurry if you're not careful!
  • Add the seasonings. Put the oil, lemon zest, oregano and chile in a bowl and toss the mushrooms in them. Pack this into glass jars. Use a chopstick or some other kind of clean stick to poke around the jar -- you want to find and remove as many air bubbles as possible. Make sure the mushrooms are submerged in the oil. Refrigerate and wait at least a week before eating. These mushrooms will keep in the fridge for 6 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 394kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 25mg | Potassium: 291mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 615IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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109 Comments

  1. Hi I followed this recipe exactly as explained using some porcini and Leccinum mixed with all the things mentioned In your details. After 5 days in the fridge there are little Whitt’s bits on some of the mushrooms. I tried one from the top and it was tasty. Is this mould? Or is it olive oil hardened or something else? Do I have to chuck al my lovely mushrooms 🙁 I can send a picture if you contact me directly.

  2. Hi,

    Followed the recipe to a tee with some sliced lobster mushroom last week. Put them in the fridge. The oil, unexpectedly, had solidified.

    Will the flavor of the lemon peel and pepper get into the mushrooms while the oil is in a semi solid state?

    Do you leave the jar out for a bit to get the oil to re-liquefy prior to fishing out the goodies and serving?

    Thanks, BTW. Can’t wait to try them

  3. Hey I love the work you do here Hank. Our foraging friends shared this recipe with me and I am just trying it tonight… They use Suillis and I tried some of theirs and they were quite good! I am trying it now with Painted Suillis. They are air drying for the night now. Any recommendations for the used vinegar?

    1. Mike: You can pressure can them, but not water bath can them. I never do, though. I just keep the in the fridge, where they will last a year.

    2. This was my question too. I looked mushrooms up in my canning books and they say to process mushrooms 45 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. Process in half pints or pints, and not quarts. The newer books say not to can wild mushrooms but the older book just says use edible fresh mushrooms and since were boiling them for five minutes and vinegar, I can’t imagine that they would be an issue with this. I’m going to try it! 🙂

  4. Excited to see how this works out with some nice chanterelles. I agree with others who want a little more clarity with regards to “a layer of salt” and “a heavy later of salt” — Post vinegar bath my chanterelles are pushing the salt pedal (and I have been Pro-Salt since ’65) — I just can see how other batches might have been overwhelmed. Wondering also, if tossing the sliced mushrooms in x amount of salt and sitting them in a colander for that hour or two would be an easier, more effective manner of dehydrating ?? Anyways, back to being excited.. thanks!

  5. These may be good, but this process is waaaay too much work for me to make marinated shrooms. The simpler recipes work just fine and produce nice flavors. Besides, they never last longer than a few days in the fridge when I make them.

  6. I’m wondering if I’m missing something here. Are you adding the oil and the seasonings to the vinegar or are you just packing the mushrooms in the jar in the oil and seasonings without the vinegar?

  7. I made these with foraged porcinis and learned the hard way about the sliming of the sponge- will remove next time…

    -thanks!!

  8. I have so many Hen of the woods that i recently gathered all cleaned and ready to jar. What is the shelf life of this recipe? thanks so much

  9. This sounds delicious! My grandmother used to make eggplant this same exact way.?
    Question:My husband brought home about 6 lbs. of Chicken of the Woods the other day,and a friend of his told him to SOAK them in salted water for 2 days.As per his friends instruction,he also changed the water about 4 times.I disagreed,as I remember watching my grandmother .Can you tell me what my next steps should be,or did we already ruin these little gems?

  10. Just like Robert from the previous post I have locally foraged mitake that I’m planning on using.Im a little concerned that they will break apart too easily.Has anyone had this problem?Gonna give it a go and hope for the best.

  11. Just did this recipe with hen of the Woods (mitake) that I foraged locally here in NY, and it’s delicious. Zest of lemon makes it.
    Thanks

  12. My only question or comment after making this recipe is that a clearer explanation of the quantity of salt needed would be good. I was quite worried that I was using too much salt and was going to ruin my chanterelle haul. I just jarred up the mushrooms and so far all seems really good. Thank you for this recipe!!! Looking forward to eating this wonderful speciality item….though doubt they will last 6 months! Yum
    Ps Do you think garlic would be a nice addition? Or overpowering?

  13. Has anyone tried this with puffballs? I’ve done the recipe with maitake (fantastic), but we just picked 10+ lbs of puffballs and are looking for lotsa ways to preserve them!

  14. Okay no need for a reply, after a little more research on Shimeji mushrooms. and another look at your recipe. I don’t think they will be suitable…not meaty enough. Thks