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Porcini Mushrooms – A Richly-Flavored Fungus

Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms (scientific name Boletus Edulis) are also known as penny buns, or ceps. They are wild fungi that belong in the genus Boletes which are types of mushrooms with a full fruiting body and big unique-looking cap which is different from the stem, both in terms of color and texture. Their name (derived from the Italian word porcino) translates as pig-like, and may refer to the resemblance of the young fruit bodies to piglets.

Porcinis are one of the most popular mushroom species in the culinary world because of their wide availability and rich earthy taste and texture.

Where To Find Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini grow natively in both deciduous and coniferous forests scattered across Europe, Asia, and North America. They start to grow and attach themselves on the tree’s underground roots but most of their fruiting body is visible above ground. The most common trees where you can find Porcini mushrooms are birch, beech, and oak. They like to grow in semi-sunny places and their peak season is during the Autumn.

When hunting for Porcini in these areas, search for gaps in the woods where the sun can freely reach the ground.

How To Identify Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms have the typical cartoon mushroom appearance with an umbrella-like cap. It’s what most people visualize when they think of mushrooms. However, you have to be extra careful as there are some poisonous Porcini look-alikes that may lead to health problems if you fail to identify them properly. First of all, Porcini mushrooms have a bun-like cap whose color ranges from yellow-brown to warm reddish-brown. Their cap tends to be rounder when young and eventually becomes flatter and curled upwards as the mushrooms mature. Their caps can be as a big as 14 inches (35cm) in diameter and the stem grows on average between 4 to 10 inches (10 to 25cm).

Very important: when cut, the flesh of Porcini mushrooms is always off white and clear of spots or bluish markings. Their color also doesn’t change because of oxidation when cut.  If you see any bluish markings on the sides of the stem, you are most probably dealing with a species called Boletus Huronesis, which is toxic and causes gastric problems.

Health Benefits

Porcini mushrooms are naturally enriched with protein, fibre, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium and several other nutrients. This combination of nutrients can help with the following:

  • Weight loss. Porcini’s low-calorie content and fibre are very useful for easing digestion and helping with dieting.
  • Reduction of inflammation. Studies on mice have revealed that Porcini mushroom extract is capable of reducing inflammation in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma or other inflammation-related ailments.
  • Prevention and treatment of colon cancer. One of the most impressive health properties of Porcini mushrooms is its potential to attack colon cancer cells before they spread further, as indicated by some studies.
  • Anti-aging. The high content of antioxidant substances in Porcini mushrooms helps fight free radicals and slows down the aging process.

How To Cook Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms have a rich nutty flavor with a hint of meatiness, which makes them an ideal alternative to meat, for vegans and vegetarians. They are especially good in risottos, pasta, stews, and soups. Due to the scarcity of fresh Porcini mushrooms, which tend to turn sour when they are cut and exposed to fresh air, dried Porcini mushrooms are a very common and handy option. They are full of flavor and you can use them easily by adding some liquid.

Here is a quick yet delicious soup recipe with dried Porcini mushrooms.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried Porcini mushrooms
  • ⅓ cup red wine
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 large carrot, sliced 

Directions:

  1. Heat the butter in a deep casserole and add the vegetables (excluding the mushrooms). Saute everything for 3 minutes and add the wine. Reduce for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the Porcinis and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Serve with a drizzle of heavy cream on top.

Conclusion

Whether you like them fresh or dried, Porcinis are definitely a must-try. They are versatile, delicious, and have a high nutritional value.

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Porcini mushrooms

David Moore

David Moore

A computer programmer for many years, I have an interest in mushrooms for culinary and health purposes. I feel that there are many people who might find that the inclusion of mushrooms as part of their diet would provide a boost to their well-being.

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