If you are reading this, I’d like to relish the fact that you’ve mustard up the courage to ketchup to my level.
As a hunter–gatherer and a consumer of food grown on a farm or a greenhouse, I am always on the look out to combine all the flavors, wild or not, in new and interesting ways. Why just have Tomato Ketchup when you can have Mushroom Ketchup?
The existence of “Mushroom Ketchup” came into my world on Feb 29th. Alan at ForagerChef posted about this recipe on his Blog: https://foragerchef.com/wild-mushroom-ketchup/ and once I saw the title, I was immediately intrigued. How can I not be intrigued? It had the word mushroom in it and the word ketchup in it.
I very much do enjoy mushrooms and condiments! I’m a big fan of smothering my food with sauces; so many extra flavors to try out!
I immediately wanted to try out this recipe but time was not in my favor. Weeks passed and it just sat there, the idea mulling around in the back of my mind.
Enter the Covid 19 Pandemic and everyone was told to stay home. Would you look at that… I now had the time on my hands.
In early March, I told my friend that I wanted to make this Mushroom Ketchup with some dried Chicken-of-the-Woods and Yellowfoots that I had on hand, but I wondered if I had enough. Low and behold, a day later, he invites me over and on his table, is a whack load of dried mushrooms and herbs. He shoved them in a bin and handed them over to me. I definitely had enough now.
Now…Alan’s recipe calls for fresh mushrooms. But he does say dried mushrooms can be used with fresh mushrooms as it can actually enhance the flavor, as dried mushrooms are typically concentrated with flavour.
Fresh mushrooms for me at this time of year would mean a trip to the supermarket. With the Covid 19 going around, I am trying to avoid the place at all costs. So, while participating in self isolation and with it being winter, I do not have access to fresh mushrooms. Also, I do not have Apple Cider Vinegar, nor fresh bay leaves, nor All Spice Berries that the recipe requires. No matter, I do have regular vinegar, dried Bay leaves and Allspice Powder. So what the heck…I’ll do this anyways!
I found a suitable day last week and gathered all my bags of dried Yellowfoots and all my bags of dried Chicken-of-the-Woods. There must have been 2 large Ziplocs of dried Chicken-of-the-Woods and 3-4 large Ziplocs of Yellowfoots. Alan’s recipe calls for 3-5 pounds of Fresh mushrooms. If I re-hydrate my mushrooms, how many pounds will I have? Plus, I know I want to double this recipe; if it turns out, I want to give some to my friend. In the back of my mind, I know that an ounce of dried Yellowfoots will re-hydrate into a pound of Yellowfoots. I have no idea what it is for Chicken-of-the-Woods. Perhaps it’s the same? But I was lazy, and took ALL the Yellowfoots and ALL the Chicken-of-the-Woods and dumped them into a Stock Pot and added water to it. I even had to use my Roasting Pot to help hold all the mushrooms.
The next day, I weighed my re-hydrated mushrooms and found out I had 13 pounds. For the recipe, I only need 10 pounds, but what was I going to do with the extra 3 pounds? I decided to add them to the recipe. Extra ‘mushroomy’, right?
I followed the recipe to the best of my ability and let it sit over night. The next morning, I strained out the mushrooms and placed the liquid into a pot. Plus I took the mushrooms and squeezed the liquid out of the mushrooms the best I could. I had a lot of liquid to say the least. Probably 4.5-5 quarts. Even doubling Alan’s recipe, I should have approximately only 4 quarts, perhaps a bit less. But that’s ok, the recipe does call for reduction of the liquid, so I started simmering away. Once I reached about 3.5 quarts, I started actively tasting the mushroom ketchup. It tasted like a mild version of soy sauce, but slightly ‘mushroomy’. It was good, but it wasn’t excellent. However, I’m am partial to sweet sauces and condiments.
Like Alan said, before making this recipe, one should try some market/commercial Mushroom Ketchup first with which to try out and compare flavors. I did not order any, nor have I tried any before. I’m also not experienced enough in fish sauces, or other sauces that are soy sauce based. So at this point, I’m going based on how I think it should taste, and how I want to enjoy it.
Also, unlike Alan’s Mushroom Ketchup, mine is not clear. Mine is cloudy. The presentation of it is ok, but a clearer version of it would have been nice. That is when I decided to “thicken” it. Alan does give a variation of Mushroom Ketchup and suggests to purée 4 cups of the mushrooms with ½ teaspoon of Xanthum gum. I did so until I reached the consistency I wanted.
I didn’t mind the mushroom ketchup this way, however, it was not how I envisioned this Mushroom Ketchup should taste or would taste. Something was lacking. Sugar. Please Alan, don’t strike me down!
I felt that it needed some brown sugar to it, as Tomato Ketchup has sugar in it. My Mushroom Ketchup had a nice salty and vinegar base to it, but it needed that something extra to tie in all the flavors in the sauce. Enter the sugar. I added the sugar and simmered the sauce a little longer, That did it! It rounded off all the flavors and my Mushroom Ketchup was ‘whole’. Plus, the color darkened a bit more to a more appetizing color. It reminded me of a mild version of Hp Sauce. I love HP sauce.
I now I had my Mushroom Ketchup and I have plenty of it! Alan’s recipe said you should finish off with about 4 cups (1 quart). I should have about 8 cups because of doubling. Nope…I have 14-15 cups. There is no way my friend and I will finish off 14 cups. So I asked Alan via his Blog if I can ‘can’ it. He figured it’s do-able and as a result, I proceed to can it.
I have Mushroom Ketchup FOREVER!
When I tasted my finished product and since I know HP sauce pairs well with red meats, I decided I must try it with red meat of some sort. The first thing my cooking-culinary-instincts told me to make and pair with my Mushroom Ketchup was: meatballs. Bison Meatballs to be exact.
My hubby and our friend were blessed to harvest a Bison in the Sikanni Chief Area last December and we only recently picked up our ground meat from Hunniford Meats. Glad I have it for this meal!
So off I headed to my-amazingly-well-stocked freezer to grab a package of ground Bison. What’s nice about this ground Bison is that it already has pork fat added to it, making it perfect for meatballs; but not just any meatballs though, Hank Shaw’s Venison Swedish Meatballs. I’ve wanted to make those for quite some time now.
I used Hank Shaw’s recipe, but as I wanted to use the Mushroom Ketchup on my meatballs, I omitted Hank’s “sauce”. Please Hank! Don’t strike me down!
This is the first time I ever added All Spice to my meatballs and deep fried my meatballs. What a difference it makes! Yep, I’ll be following this recipe for meatballs forever now.
Hank Shaw’s Meat Balls: https://honest-food.net/swedish-meatballs-yeah-baby-yeah/
As the meatballs were being prepared, my kids peeled potatoes. Mashed potatoes would go along nicely with this dinner. Couldn’t let the leftover moose gravy from the night before go to waste! Perfect on mashed potatoes. My children peeled extra so that the next day, we could take the mashed potatoes and make a Norwegian Flatbread called “Leftsa”. They love Leftsa so much, they don’t complain about peeling potatoes for me.
Along with our dinner, I fried up a pan of Asparagus. Which, because of this pandemic, may be the last time we have Asparagus for a long time. I bought mine three weeks ago when it was in Superstore for $2.99/pound. In hindsight, I should have bought more and pickled some. Not to worry though, in May, I can pickle all the False Solomon Seal I want, which acts like a version of Asparagus here in the North.
The preparation and the meal finally came together and as it happened, we had a late supper; 7:30pm.
Let’s just say, we were all looking forward to this meal. With dinner plated up, I stabbed a Bison meatball with a fork and dipped it into the Mushroom Ketchup. The kids followed my lead.
And the verdict?
It’s wasn’t only edible, but it was scrumptious to boot! By themselves, both foods were good. But together, they really complimented and enhanced each other’s flavors.
My hubby who was at work, arrived shortly after we started eating and tried the combination and quite enjoyed it. You see, my hubby is a ‘gravy’ person and with the gravy I had for the potatoes, I thought he would have opted out of the Mushroom Ketchup and have gravy instead, but he had the ketchup and enjoyed it. Even when I made up his lunch for the next day and asked him if he wanted gravy on his meatballs, he said no! He definitely wanted the ketchup on his meatballs. As we had the condiment cold, like regular tomato ketchup is (we keep ours in the fridge), he figured my Mushroom Ketchup would be good warmed up and used as a sauce on future meatballs. I would be happy with it either way.
One cup down! 13 to go…ha! It was easy to gobble down that jar of mushroom ketchup with our Bison Meatballs.
I offered the last of the meatballs to the family, but they turned down seconds because they didn’t have mushroom left in their bellies. Groan…
My only regret was that is that I made only 1.5lbs worth of meatballs; Hank Shaw’s recipe called for 3lbs of ground. I see why 3lbs, you need some for leftovers!
I doubled the batch of Mushrooms Ketchup (almost tripled the batch) and I halved the meatball recipe!? What was going through my mind. Tsk, tsk. Won’t make that mistake again.
I look forward to trying the Mushroom Ketchup as intended by Alan’s recipe and one day I will. Perhaps after I get through the next 13 jars.
But by going through the motions of making this condiment, I have learned a new way to use up those wild mushrooms I (and my friends) harvest over the year.
Try out Forager Chef’s Mushroom Ketchup and adapt it if need be. If you are eager like me when it comes to picking mushrooms, it’s a wonderful way to use up those extra mushrooms you have harvested. It’s also a wonderful way to keep busy at home during these uncertain times. Meddling around on Hank Shaw’s website, or going through his cookbooks (I have a few), is a fantastic way to learn new culinary techniques and flavors as well.
If you think about it, this should be relatively simple meal to make. It’s Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and a vegetable.
It’s clearly not that simple. Let’s look at it from this perspective:
· For me and my friend, it took time and effort to gather the mushrooms, clean them, dry them and store them.
· It’s patience needed to let the wild mushrooms grow and come back at the proper harvest time. It’s very difficult at times especially since you do not know if someone will find you mushroom spot.
· It’s Alan’s time to discover new culinary possibilities with wild food. Taking his knowledge and experience and experimenting with food in new, different and delicious ways and THEN sharing it with us!
· The same goes to Hank Shaw, especially when it pertains to wild game and venison. It takes time to formulate recipes, try them out, tweak them, and then write it all out to share the knowledge with us. But he needs to obtain this wild food first which equals time, money and labor.
· It’s my husbands and friends’ time, money and labour to go on a Bison hunt, knowing they may not even be successful in harvesting an animal. Luckily they were, but they still needed to get it home in fresh condition and butcher it.
· We had to divvy up the meat and then take the trimmings to Hunnifords Meats to get our trimmings processed into ground meat. Hunnifords have to have the knowledge and the equipment to process our meat.
· It is trips to the store for me to have a variety of ingredients on hand at any given moment to make up meals for my family.
· Let’s not forget about the farmers who grow the Potatoes and the Asparagus, the Onions and the Spices. The process of growing food and getting it into your home from start to finish is long and multi-faceted.
· And let’s not forget about the store and the delivery truck drivers that get the food to you.
Obtaining food, wild or not, is a complex action and it takes many things for it to go right to get it to your fridge, freezer or pantry. I’m thankful for the process.
Once the food is in our fridge, freezer or pantry, it’s obtaining the knowhow and the recipes from others to make delicious food! I’m thankful for their knowledge. I’m glad I’m willing to try out new foods and recipes.
What about you?
The more you know, the more you grow! Maybe width wise…Ha!
Here are the links to Alan’s and Hanks websites. I encourage you to look through their websites, and others like theirs, to discover new possibilities of your pantry, fridge and freezers.
Alan Bergo: https://foragerchef.com/wild-mushroom-ketchup/