the black vault



Mushrooms were a staple of Eastern European cuisine for ages. Mushrooms are low in calories, and the best varieties contain vitamins B, A, C and D. Some are source of protein.

Wild mushrooms have no substitute when it comes to taste, but you can also use store bought to practice. Picking wild mushrooms requires considerable knowledge, easily aided by quality guides. Not all mushrooms found in our woods are edible, but it does not mean that you should be afraid of them. The ill-famed Death Cap is easily distinguished from other species and once you see it on a photograph and in the woods you will recognize it every time (yes, it is poisonous, with 50g enough to kill an adult). If you pick mushrooms that might resemble Death Cap you can still tell it by its very distinctive smell of sweet artificial honey. Let me tell you a secret here: the way to avoid getting sick is to concentrate on mushrooms with pores. There are fewer of those than gilled mushrooms and only a handful are inedible. What are gilled mushrooms? Look under a cap, if it has what looks like an accordeon it is a gilled mushroom.

wild mushrooms

Use a good mushroom guide with real photogaphs, avoid books with drawings, and especially those with black and white drawings, such as in Peterson Guides. It is irresponsible and dangerous to put out mushroom guides with b/w drawings. Peterson Guides are very inaccurate, with many mushrooms designated as poisonous when they are not. For example, Peppery Bolete, designated as extremely poisonous, is actually used as excellent tangy spice (dried and ground), though it does taste too strong when used fresh, such as in soups or stews.

Mushroom can be dried or frozen for off-season use in soups, stews and filling for perogis, or marinated, fried or stewed fresh. Not all mushrooms are equally good for all recipes, for example some are better freshly stewed and do not fair well when marinated.

Some of the best mushrooms are: King Boletes (cepes), Scaber stalks, chanterelles and saffron milkcaps.

Pickled Mushrooms Recipe


  • Wild mushrooms.

  • Salt, 2tbsp

  • peppercorns, 1tbsp

  • Bay Leaves, 1 per jar

  • Sugar, 1/3 cup

  • Onion, 1 ring per jar

  • Carrot, small chunk per jar

  • Vinegar (generally: 1 part vinnegar to 2 parts water)

A lot here depends on your own taste. The best vinegar for this purpose contains 10-12 % acetic acid, difficult find in North America. Try "pickling vinegar", but be aware that it is nowhere near as potent as the recipe calls for. Sugar is optional.

Boil mushrooms in 4 cups of salted water for at least 1/2 hour or until they sink. Strain. Do not use this water again.

For the marinade: Boil 2 cups of fresh water, add peppercorns, salt, sugar and bay leaves. Add the vinegar and simmer for 1/2 hour. Normally you would use 1 cup vinegar to 2 cups water, (with the 7% vinegar available at most supermarkets you may want to experiment).

Place mushrooms in jars. Add the marinade, onion and carrot. Seal jars and keep in cool dark place until ready (about 6 weeks+). Properly sealed jars will keep for years.

Serve with canapes, or meats.