Fine Mushroom Catsup

Method

One of the very best and most useful of store sauces is good home-made mushroom catsup, which, if really well prepared, imparts an agreeable flavour to any soup or sauce with which it is mingled, and at the same time heightens the colour without imparting the “bitter sweetness” which the burnt sugar used as “browning” in clumsy cookery so often does. The catsup ought, in fact, to be rather the pure essence of mushrooms, made with so much salt and spice only as are required to preserve it for a year or longer, than the compound of mushroom-juice, anchovies, shalots, allspice, and other condiments of which it is commonly composed, especially for sale.

Directions to be observed in making and for keeping the catsup.— Let the mushrooms be collected when the weather is dry, for if gathered during, or immediately after rain, the catsup made with them will not keep well.

Cut off the stalk-ends to which the earth adheres, before the mushrooms are broken up, and throw them aside, as they should never be used for the catsup. Reject also such of the flaps as are worm-eaten or decayed. Those which are too stale for use may be detected by the smell, which is very offensive.

When the mushroom first opens, the under-side is of a fine pale salmon colour; this changes soon to a sort of ashy-brown, which deepens almost to black as the mushroom passes from its maturity to a state of decay. As it yields a greater abundance of juice when it is fully ripe, it is usually taken in that state for these sauces; but catsup of tine and delicate flavour, though somewhat pale in colour, can he made even of mushroom-buttons if they be sliced up small and tuned often in the liquid which will be speedily drawn from them by the application of salt; a rather smaller proportion of which should be mingled with them than is directed for the following receipt

Every thing used in preparing the catsup should be delicately clean and very dry. The bottles in which it is stored, after being dried in the usual way, should be laid into a cool oven for an hour or two before they are filled, to ensure their being free from the slightest degree of moisture, but they must be quite cold before the catsup is poured into them. If the corks be sealed so as to exclude the air effectually, or if well-cleansed bits of bladder first dried, and then rendered flexible with a little spirit of any kind (spirits of wine is convenient for such purposes), be tied closely over them, and the bottles can be kept in a cool place free from damp, the catsup will remain good for a long time.

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