Wonderful Wild Mushrooms
What could be more fleetingly seasonal than a wild mushroom? Growing silently and almost secretively in the field or forest, hidden to all but those most careful of foragers who really know their stuff. And how can the rest of us access these here-today-gone-tomorrow gourmet treats? Well, at Donald Russell, we can help you do just that…
Working with one of the most knowledgeable men in the North East of Scotland, we can now bring you the finest wild mushrooms , prepared and ready to use in your home kitchen.
Dru McPherson is the man behind these mushrooms. He is an expert on wild flavour and a passionate advocate for wild mushrooms in particular. Even his car number plate affirms his passion – ‘89 CEP’! A friend of Donald Russell’s Executive Chairman, Hans Baumann, Dru supplies wild mushrooms to the elite London restaurant trade. His customers have included Gordon Ramsay, “all the Rouxs”, Marco Pierre White and Antonio Carluccio. In fact it was Carluccio who some twenty years ago introduced him to Prince Charles, with whom he has foraged the Royal estate of Balmoral every year since.
As a fellow Royal Warrant holder, we felt Dru’s wild mushrooms – Ceps, Chanterelles and Morels – would be a perfect match for our award-winning steaks, and couldn’t wait to bring these to the attention of Donald Russell customers.
Please don’t confuse these in any way with the farmed mushrooms you can find in the shops. They grow up naturally, through an unkempt forest floor. Consequently they are rich in nutrients and wild flavours which just aren’t present in their shop-bought cousins. These are 100% foraged, found in the woods, and this and every subsequent stage of their ‘production’ is done by hand. They are picked by skilled and experienced foragers, whose passion for wild mushrooms in some cases stretches back for generations, before being carefully cleaned by hand. The level of detail is astonishing – each dimple in the honeycomb structure of the Morels, for example, is cleaned of grit with a tiny artist’s paintbrush.
Only the youngest, most perfect specimens of each species – favoured by chefs for their firm texture and beautiful presentation – are hand selected for our customers. These are restaurant-grade wild mushrooms, which wholesale at hundreds of pounds per kilo. It is near impossible to find genuinely wild mushrooms of this quality, fresh and undried, outside of the London restaurant trade. And we are incredibly proudly that we now have them at Donald Russell!
But how could we deliver these precious seasonal delicacies to our customers in pristine condition? Totally wild and uncultivated, the very presence of these mushrooms depends upon the chance alignment of many factors: their natural woodland habitat being healthy, and just the right amount of rainfall and sunshine coinciding with seasonal fluctuations of temperature. And, all being well and a good harvest being there for the foraging, these delicate wild mushrooms are often only present and perfect for a few days.
The answer was to freeze them. Using the method of Individual Quality Freezing (IQF), the mushrooms, like berries or garden peas, are spread out in a single layer and snap frozen super-fast and at a very low temperature. Their natural flavour and texture is suspended in time, without any adverse effects. No ice glaze is used, so there is no additional water to find its way into your cooking – important when sautéing or adding to a creamy sauce.
Each frozen mushroom remains individual, so there is no need to defrost a clumped-together mass. In fact, you can use these mushrooms straight from frozen, taking as few or many as you need for your recipe, without the need to plan ahead. And, as a further benefit of them being frozen, you can enjoy all three types of mushroom at once – something which could never happen in nature, since Morels grow in the spring, and Ceps and Chanterelles are found in the autumn.
So there you have it – now you can enjoy the finest fresh wild mushrooms, all year round, without any uncertainty of identification, or hours of back-breaking foraging!