ABOUT PORCINI MUSHROOMS
porcini mushrooms Boletus edulis (English: cep, penny bun, porcino or porcini) is a basidiomycete fungus, and the type species of the genus Boletus. Widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere across Europe, Asia, and North America, it does not occur naturally in the Southern Hemisphere, although it has been introduced to southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. Several closely related European mushrooms formerly thought to be varieties or forms of B. edulis have been shown using molecular phylogenetic analysis to be distinct species, and others previously classed as separate species are conspecific with this species. The western North American species commonly known as the California king bolete (Boletus edulis var. grandedulis) is a large, darker-coloured variant first formally identified in 2007.
The fungus grows in deciduous and coniferous forests and tree plantations, forming symbiotic ectomycorrhizal associations with living trees by enveloping the tree’s underground roots with sheaths of fungal tissue. The fungus produces spore -bearing fruit bodies above ground in summer and autumn. The fruit body has a large brown cap which on occasion can reach 35 cm (14 in) in diameter and 3 kg (6.6 lb) in weight. Like other boletes, it has tubes extending downward from the underside of the cap, rather than gills; spores escape at maturity through the tube openings, or pores. The pore surface of the B. edulis fruit body is whitish when young, but ages to a greenish-yellow. The stout stipe, or stem, is white or yellowish in colour, up to 25 cm (10 in) tall and 10 cm (4 in) thick, and partially covered with a raised network pattern, or reticulations.
What Are the Characteristics of Porcini Mushrooms?
Porcini mushrooms have a nutty, earthy taste. They can vary in size, shape, and color, but generally, the top forms an umbrella over the stout stem. Porcini mushrooms have:
- Tan to dark brown rounded cap
- Cream colored cylindrical stem
- Firm, solid white under cap
- Wide base which thins toward the top
- Half moon shape when sliced
In the wild, porcini mushrooms grow in small clusters near trees in forests and can be found in the Northern Hemisphere across parts of Europe (particularly Italy), Asia, and North America.
How Do You Select Good Porcini Mushrooms?
Fresh porcini mushrooms are in season during the summer and fall. They grow in the soil around trees, particular beech, birch, pine, chestnut, hemlock, and spruce trees. If you prefer to buy porcini mushrooms rather than hunt for your own, you can find them fresh, dried, frozen, or canned at the grocery store or farmers market.
Fresh porcinis are sometimes hard to find, so freeze your stash when you get ahold of them, or you can stock up on dried porcini.
When selecting fresh porcini mushrooms, look for these characteristics:
- Large, thick caps that are firm, undamaged, and brown in color
- Pale color under cap
- No black spots, which can indicate they’re overripe
- No small holes, which can indicate worms
When selecting dried porcini mushrooms, look for these qualities:
- Reddish-brown caps
- Whole mushroom pieces, not crumbled
- Stored in an airtight bag or container
- Strong smell, which can often come through the packaging