Choosing Porcini Mushrooms


One of the most underrated mushrooms on the market, Porcini are sometimes overlooked by gourmet connoisseurs. Though they are not as popular as Chanterelles or Morels, Porcini mushrooms are some of the most flavourful on earth.

Today we answer some common questions about the delicious Porcini mushroom.

What are Porcini mushrooms?

Porcini (formally Boletus edulis) is a type of edible mushroom. Similarly to truffles, they are Mycorrhizal Fungi, meaning they are not easy to cultivated, and have to be foraged for in the wild. Prized for its flavour, they have a richer, more full-bodied flavour than most commercially grown mushrooms. They are also relatively easy to identify, making them popular with many foragers and outdoors people.

They are a popular fine food ingredient, primarily because they impart a large amount of umami flavour, even from a relatively small amount of dried Porcini mushroom.

Wild Porcini mushroom, fruiting in early Autumn
Wild Porcini, in early Autumn.

Where are Porcini mushrooms found?

Porcini are native to many countries and continents, across much of the Northern hemisphere. Most commonly it is growing in small clusters near trees in forests.

They are often found in forest with birch or beech trees, as well as conifers such as spruce, hemlock, pine and fir. In rare circumstances Porcini mushrooms are found among oak or chestnut trees.

When are porcini mushrooms in season?

Porcini is typically seen from August to November each year. Most commonly a drop in temperature or rainfall after a heatwave will precipitate the fruiting of the Porcini mushroom.

How fast do Porcini mushrooms grow?

The mycelium of Porcini grows very slowly. Some experts estimate it can take as long as 10 – 15 years for the mycelium to mature before it will start producing fruiting mushrooms. Once the mycelium has begun fruiting, it can take anywhere from 5-14 days for the mushrooms to mature, depending on humidity, temperature and moisture conditions.

Can you eat Porcini mushrooms raw?

Raw Porcini have a protein that is indigestible to humans when it is not cooked, which can cause an upset stomach. For this reason it’s essential to cook Porcini mushrooms before they can be enjoyed.

What do Porcini mushrooms taste like?

Meaty, earthy and nutty are the most common word used to describe Porcini’s flavour. They are not dissimilar in flavour to shiitake mushrooms, but are prized for a more full-bodied, umami warmth.

What goes well with Porcini?

Because of their rich umami flavour, Porcini mushrooms are ideal for use in broths, soups, risottos and sauces where they add a characteristic rich, fulled bodied aroma.

They are also delightful served by themselves as a starter or snack. Try frying them gently in some olive oil, before seasoning with a pinch of parsley and sage.

Why are Porcini mushrooms expensive?

Because Porcini are typically not cultivated and instead found in the wild by foragers, they can be hard to find, even when they are “in season”. When they are found, they are often only found in small clusters, further increasing their price.

How long do Porcini mushrooms last?

Fresh Porcini only stay at their best for about 2-3 days. For this reason it’s not uncommon to dry or freeze Porcini mushrooms. Once dried, they can be stored in an air tight container for up to a year, and are easily rehydrated, retaining much of their flavour and texture.

Are Porcini mushrooms good for you?

Like most mushrooms, Porcini are rich in fibre and protein. They are also very high in antioxidants, which some studies have shown to reduce inflammation and enhance digestive health. Porcini are also rich in minerals, most notably Selenium.

How much do Porcini mushrooms cost?

Fresh Porcini cost anywhere from £30 – £40 per 250 grams. When buying larger amounts (greater than 1kg) you can expect the price to fall, to as low as £25 per 250 grams.

Dried Porcini are generally slightly cheaper, ranging from £20 to £30 for 250 grams; still holding a high price however.


Where can I buy Porcini mushrooms in the UK?

Porcini can sometimes be found in UK supermarkets during Summer and Autumn months, though this is rare. More often Porcini can be reliably sourced from online suppliers:

G&O Foods

G&O offer a nice selection of both dried, frozen and fresh Porcini. Delivery is a little more expensive than others.

Fine Food Specialist

Fine Food Specilist’s selection of Porcini is modest, though their delivery is often cheaper and faster than other suppliers.

Sacla

Sacla’s presentation is fantastic. The mushrooms arrive, looking wrapped like a gift, though they are notalways the cheapest.