One of the truly delightful things about writing this column is how it forces me to explore pickles beyond my usual repertoire. I find myself wandering grocery stores and farmers' markets, imagining nearly everything in a puckery brine.
Just a few weeks ago while at one of the giant Asian supermarkets that dot South Philadelphia, I spotted some creamy-hued, fresh-looking oyster mushrooms in the produce section. I picked up a pound, curious to see how they'd pickle.
In my research, I came across the rough description of a recipe by an internet friend. I've been reading Charlotte McGuinn Freeman's blog Living Small for years and totally trust her judgment when it comes to all things edible. So I dove in, molding a small batch recipe from her guidelines, hoping mine would be as good as her version.
And..? These pickles are a great success. I ate them as Charlotte suggests, removing the mushrooms from the brine a bit before serving and drizzling them with good olive oil to balance the tartness of the vinegar. I can also imagine adding them to a salad of hearty wheatberries, goat cheese, and torn arugula.
Before You Get Started
Make sure your oyster mushrooms are quite fresh. They should have a springy texture and will smell ever so slightly of the sea.
If you dislike the texture of mushrooms, this may not be the recipe for you. The finished pickles still retain the mushroom mouthfeel.
Should you have any fresh herbs around, a sprig of thyme or a few blades of rosemary go quite well tucked into the jar.