Lactofermented Mushrooms

Why, oh why had I not thought of this earlier?  Pickled mushrooms are one of my favorite pickles and I’ve only ever had the vinegar pickled kind.  Of course mushroom ought to make a great lactoferment!  These are great on their own or as a salad topping.  Flavoring with thyme and marjoram just seemed right.

Ever on a mission to perfect my mad fermenting skilz, I mixed things up quite a bit this week.  First, I ordered some Caldwell Starter Culture for vegetables from Cultures for Health.  Why use this instead of whey?  Because it contains bacteria that is found in soil not milk, which is perfect for vegetables.  It contains b.plantarum, Ln.mesenteroides, and Pc.acidilacticiYes, whey works and I’ve never had a problem with it, but that’s not the case for everyone.  The thing that kept me from using it all my fermenting years was the price.  I have a ready supply of whey and didn’t want to spend money on something extra.  But curiosity got the best of me.  I want to see the difference.  In the coming weeks as I’ll use the culture more and more, I’ll let you know my opinion.

Second change?  I’m going to be using a 2% salt brine solution instead of just guessing.  I don’t like guessing.  It usually works out but sometimes it doesn’t.  I put too much salt in one of my ferments making it unpalatable.  To obtain a 2% solution, mix in 19 grams sea salt per 4 cups filtered water.  If I wanted to be extra cautious, I would weigh the salt but I haven’t reached that level of crazy yet.  Fermenting for me needs to be easy.

I expect great things from these changes.  Here is the first great thing.

Lactofermented Mushrooms

  • 8-16 oz mushrooms (I used crimini)
  • 1/8 tsp vegetable culture
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a few sprigs of fresh marjoram
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2% salt brine (19 gms salt per 1 quart of water)
Makes 1 quart.
Quarter mushrooms and layer into a quart sized mason jar with thyme, marjoram and garlic.  Fill to the top with the brine solution. Use a weight to hold the mushroom under water (I just used a small spice jar filled with water that fits nicely inside my jar). Cover and let set for 3-5 days.  If you don’t use all the brine, place remaining in the fridge for future use.

One thing to keep in mind with mushrooms, they are filled with quite a bit of air.  I found that I had to add some brine throughout the week to keep the mushroom submerged and take extra care to hold them under the water.  Try placing a few cabbage leaves on top of the mushrooms and weighing it down with something.  You’ll also notice this jar is only half full.  It was full when I started.  Next time I might try pressing more mushrooms in.

Part of Friday Food Flicks, Freaky Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Living Well Blog Hop, Fight Back Friday, Traditional Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday

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38 comments to Lactofermented Mushrooms

  • i'll be honest, I'm a little afeared about fermenting things though I really want to learn. You know how some cooking/food stuffs just intimidate you? This is one of them. Your approach is so go-get-em – I love it 🙂 PS. thanks for stopping by – it was nice to have you 🙂

  • It's fun! You should try it 🙂 I love surprises and fermenting is full of 'em. I do understand though. I'm not much of a baker. Cooking I get, baking I don't.

  • My hubs is shipping fantastic mushrooms from California (we had them when I was out there and I was spoiled by how good they are) Apparently he thought it would be nice if I had MORE than just a bag or two. He bought two flats! LOL. I remembered seeing your LF mushroom post on Freaky Friday a few weeks back so I looked up your recipe. I am definitely going to need to preserve them somehow! Thanks so much for sharing!!! I certainly need this recipe! – Jen 🙂

  • That is too funny! I like mushrooms but 2 flats are a lot of mushrooms! If your still looking for things to do with them before they go bad, I dehydrate extras I have(either in the dehydrator or just on the counter). Then when you rehydrate them, you get a yummy mushroom broth too!

  • I was going to dehydrate and freeze some but freezing looks like a lot of work. I must need to slice them to dehydrate, right? Can I dehydrate in the oven at a low temp?

  • I actually just dehydrate them whole but you can slice them. In the oven on a low temp is great too.

  • I’m curious. How did they turn out? Taste? Texture? I grow a variety of mushrooms and sometimes end up with loads to process and keep. I’m going to do some fermentation experiments with oyster mushrooms and will let you know how it goes.

    Mushrooms also keep well in the freezer, but only after cooking. I do a basic saute with light oil. Once the mushrooms are completely transparent, seared and the water has almost dried from the pan I pull pull them from the heat and pack them into small portions for freezing. When thawed they can be used just as if they were fresh for any dish with no loss of flavor or texture. This is my preferred method since dehydration really changes their qualities and much of the flavor is lost to the rehydration water.

    • Melanie

      I love them! Fermenting does change the taste but I would say in a good way. The texture is similar to a cooked mushroom. The brine is actually very good tasting as well. I’ve been using the mushroom brine to flavor/inoculate other ferments. Yes, please let me know how the oyster mushrooms turn out. I bet they’ll be wonderful!

      Thanks for the tips on freezing! I’ll have to give that a try.

  • We just did our first two quarts. What do we do with them after 3-5 days? Do we put lids on them?

  • Chloe

    Hi Melanie.

    Cool page you got going on here;0)

    I’ll get some white button mushrooms and try to make a batch. So, do you add a leave for crispness? I think I’ll add a sour cherry leave!

    Best Wishes,

    • Melanie

      I’m glad you like it! I didn’t add leaves but I might next time because the mushrooms did get quite soft after a few months.

      • Chloe

        It is definitely a good source for us who have just begun fermenting! I’ll be looking around for all recopies and tips.

        I did a tiny batch of white button mushrooms and a sour cherry leave yesterday and can’t wait to taste the result.

        What leaves do you recommend, when one doesn’t have access to grape leaves?

        • Melanie

          There are a number of different leaves you can use. Oak, grape, horseradish, raspberry and tea leaves to name a few. I use a generous pinch of tea leaves most of the time or horseradish leaves myself.

          • Chloe

            Ok, sounds good. Do you just sprinkle some black tea in the batch or how does it work?

            My fermented mushrooms tasted great! Almost as good as candy;0)

  • […] you feel like tossing in.  My friend, Helena,  just told me about one of her favorite dishes: fermented mushrooms, a Swedish delicacy.  Her description of them was so enthusiastic that they are sure to be my next […]

  • Annie

    I have read it somewhere that mushrooms should not be eaten raw. Could you let me know if you have heard anything about it? Thanks a lot.

  • Annie

    Sorry I should be more specific, here is the info I found and I’d like to know your opinion on this matter. Thanks.

    • That’s interesting. I only had a chance to skim it quickly. I’ll try to read it better when I have time but my first thoughts are that fermentation probably makes them more digestible like cooking would.

  • […] the meantime, you can dehydrate your excess mushrooms for soups later, or ferment them for […]

  • Sue

    Since they are a little hard to pack in the jar without squishing, and then only half the jar was filled as they softened, could you add more mushrooms as it is going along in the fermenting process? I am new to this. Also, how long will these keep once refrigerated after initial fermentation? Thanks.

    • I wouldn’t add more just because the mushrooms will be at different stages of fermentation (different bacteria work at different stages). It could mess things up. Once the mushrooms shrink, I usually transfer them to a smaller jar. Softer foods don’t keep quite as long as hard foods (like carrots). I would try to use them up within 6 months.

  • Az

    Really cool recipe on mushrooms, do check out for all tools and supplies needed to grow mushrooms

  • James M.

    I love the website. If you use the salt for the brine on the fresh mushrooms and leave it for 2-4 hrs it will pull the fluid out of the mushrooms. USE THE LIQUID FROM THE MUSHROOMS IN YOUR BRINE! YUM! I have also heard 24 hrs, but this seems a bit excessive to me. Then you can fit a bunch more in the jar without busting them to pieces. 😉

  • I just ran across this site in the process of writing an article on how to pickle wild mushrooms in vinegar. To answer the question above, most (or at least many) mushrooms have individual cell walls we cannot digest. That prevents us from getting to the nutrients unless the mushroom is cooked enough to break the cell-wall material down. I don’t know if acid will do it, but a reliable authority told me that boiling my jars for 30 minutes would. That’s what I do for my vinegar-based pickles.

    In addition, some mushrooms (like morels) have chemicals that make a lot of people ill. Those also break down when cooked. Once again, I don’t know if “cooking in acid” will accomplish the same result.

    Arrgh! I have a question too but I’ve run on too long. Separate post.

    • Just to clarify, I am a forager but not an “expert.” I am parroting the “common and well-known facts” as taught by my mushroom club and several books, but I don’t have a professional education to back it up.

    • Dean

      Scott, you are correct about your info on raw mushrooms. I’m glad there are people out there who know this and can share their knowledge. Thanks!

  • My worry for fermenting mushrooms would have been the protein content. In a lot of ways mushrooms are more like meat than they are like plants. I’ve seen meats by dehydrating (jerky), salting (ham and sausage) and vinegar-pickling (corned beef), but fermenting? The only ones I can think of are asian fish sauce and Hakarl!

    Have you worked with fermented fish/other meats? Did they stink as much as I would expect from the final product? And did anything similar happen when you worked with the mushrooms? You have me really curious.

  • Chloe

    Hi Scott,

    isn’t salami per definition fermented?

  • Amelia

    I’m a fermentation newbie. My apparatus just arrived in the mail and I want to start with mushrooms. Can you recommend a vegan vegetable culture? The Caldwell’s contains milk. Is the vegetable culture strictly necessary?

  • Lori

    What is a vegetable starter? Would kefir whey work?? Can you use any mushrooms?

  • tonio

    spicing your mushroomferment with cloves is also a tasty idea.
    not to many of them though.
    add 2 or 3 cloves to 500 gr of mushrooms.

  • Kristy K

    I have a pound of mushrooms I need to use up and this is perfect! But I do not have vegetable culture. Do you have a recommendation on how much whey to use? Thank you!

  • Milla

    Maltodextrin(and it is MSG) is a component of Caldwell Starter Culture! can you do with out it?

    • Scott Pavelle

      If it works, please post a recipe with comments. Lactofermented protein still strikes me as one of those things that “should” work, but has enough oddities to imagine ways that it wouldn’t. What mushrooms are you using, for example? We forage wild mushrooms all the time and would probably want to work with parboiled Chicken of the Woods because they work so well for vinegar pickles.

  • Dean

    Just some info, FYI, you should NEVER eat a mushroom that hasn’t been cooked, especially the ones they put on salad bars, AKA the button mushroom. First of all, there are toxins present in many mushrooms that are only destroyed by cooking, again, the button mushrooms, especially. Second, mushroom cell walls are comprised of chitin, which the human digestive system cannot decompose. As a result, most of the nutrients in a mushroom are not bio-available without cooking. Another thing with wild mushrooms, is parasites. They are loaded with them, whether you see them or not. So cook all mushrooms before eating, or fermenting. Boiling is best. Happy fermenting!

  • Vladimir

    Wrong recipe, wrong comments.
    Instead of inventing the classics, just look at them. I don’t care who invented salt-fermented mushrooms, but I know who eats them for ages: Russians, Poles, Finns.
    – no need for starter culture or whey, just salt;
    – thyme and marjoram: phew, just black pepper corns, in some cases garlic;
    – raw or cooked: depends on the type of the mushrooms, some are best salted raw (saffron milk cap), brittlegills best cooked;
    – press the mushrooms well in the jar so there will be at least half an inch of liquid at top and don’t seal the cap! (botulinus risk)

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