I have read about mushroom-based ketchup a while ago and I wanted to try to make some kind of condiment out of mushrooms ever since. So yesterday when shopping I bought two handfuls of button mushrooms to try out the idea. I pressed the mushrooms through a garlic press to get them into a really fine mince, but chopping them or just crushing them by hand would probably work too. I added some leftovers of dried peppery bolete (Chalciporus piperatus), a lot of salt (about two spoons), some basil, oregano, and marjoram and I mixed it all thoroughly together. I left it in the pot overnight in the fridge and today I added two crushed garlic cloves that I interspersed with two lovage leaves so those got crushed too in the process.
It was an unappetizing-looking wet mass with the consistency of minced meat. The mushrooms did release a lot of liquid due to the salt but it was not enough so I added some water and heated it all to ~80 °C. I left it to simmer under a lid for about half an hour and after that, I strained it through a cloth. I got about half a liter of brown liquid, looking like a weak coffee or very strong tea. I left it to simmer at ~80 °C for about half an hour more until approx half of it evaporated and I bottled the now significantly darker brown liquid into old (washed and boiled for disinfection) bottles from soy sauce and Worcester sauce. Here they are.
Houbáčka – a portmoneau of houba (mushroom) and omáčka (sauce). It tastes great and I think it will make a good addition to soups and sauces. I think it could even be sprinkled directly onto chips or potatoes or shrimp and similar. I will definitely use it a lot, it really tastes nice. I hope it won’t spoil, maybe it needs more salt to last – thus one bottle went downstairs into the fridge and my mother will use it in her cooking, and one bottle remained with me upstairs at room temperature and I will use it in my cooking. We shall see whether my bottle spoils before it runs out.
The pressed remains could be thrown away but they still had some flavor left so I dried them. It is interesting to see how little has remained from what looked like a lot of mushrooms.
After it thoroughly dried out in the fruit dehumidifier, I crushed it and put it into a glass with screw-on lid. I will sprinkle it on pasta or fryup when I am making them.
Now I am hoping that my other mushroom based experiment works out well.
I had this old barrel lying around and being useless – it has no bottom and the lid was lost some time ago. So I have drilled holes into the sides, filled it with stamped-down willow and poplar woodchips and I bought Agrocybe aegarita mycelium to inoculate it. It is near the house, north side so it stays in shade and I can water it occasionaly when I am watering my bonsai. If it fails, I can empty it in the fall, dry out the chips and burn them as was their original fate. But now I really hope it works out and I get some fresh mushrooms to cook from. Not that I mind going into the forest to gather wild mushrooms, but that depends a lot on the weather. We shall see.
Hi Charly, Your mushroom experiments look delicious and I hope they succeed completely.
You might also enjoy a couple of videos about mushroom ketchup on YouTube from Townsends. They specialize on things done in North America 200-300 years ago.
@Bruce, I have seen one of Towsend’s videos, it has pushed me over the edge from “thinking” to actually “doing”. However, sadly the first batch spoiled at room temperature rather quickly so today I made another batch, this time carefully weighing the salt to have a concentration over 20% in the final product.
It sounds delicious. When I made my dashi for the ramen I also used dried shitake mushrooms. I also started with a lot of liquid and then reduced it over low heat. Hmmm, I need to make real ramen again.