Holly Davis
Holly Herself
Image © BenDearnley from Ferment, a guide to the ancient art of culturing foods

This is the season for capturing cultures from wild mushrooms, the addition of celery provides a good textural contrast and the peppercorns a little bright accent. You can put up a jar of these in about 5 minutes, ferment for a couple of weeks and then enjoy them on sourdough, in a salad or a wrap. Remember to stand the jar in a bowl, lest it leak and keep the ingredients completely submerged to prevent spoilage. To purchase a copy of my book Ferment or a range of starter cultures, click here

25gms sea salt

5oomls filtered water

4–5 large firm, shiitake mushrooms or portobello or pine mushrooms, brushed well to remove any clinging needles or dirt

1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, cracked

3–4 celery stalks, washed and cut into 5 cm (2 in) lengths

Bring 100 ml (31⁄2 fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan and add
the salt. Stir to dissolve completely then take the pan off the heat and add the remaining 400 ml (14 fl oz) water. Leave to cool to room temperature. Pack the vegetables and peppercorns (if the mushrooms came with pine needles you may like to add a few of these, too) into a clean jar as tightly as possible. Pour in the brine until the vegetables are fully submerged and there is 1–2 cm (1⁄2–3⁄4 in) of space between the brine and the rim of the jar. Make sure the ingredients are completely submerged using a vegetable plug or weight, a boiled rock, ceramic or glass weight works perfectly. Close the lid tightly and place the jar on a tray to capture any leaks during fermentation.

STEEP Leave in cool spot, out of direct sunlight, with temperatures around 15–22°C (59–71°F), for 5–7 days. It will bubble furiously and then the bubbles will subside. When the bubbles subside, the brined vegetables are ready to taste. If you prefer them more sour, leave the jar out for another 1–2 weeks and taste again. When they are to your liking, slow the fermentation process by storing the jar in the fridge. Keeps for up to 3 months.