Everything You Need to Know About Preparing and Storing In Season Porcini Mushrooms
Plus, 3 new recipes
The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we'll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To the market, we go!
"We’re going to the mushrooms" is a family motto from my childhood, one that meant we’d be marching for hours through a pine or spruce forest, decked with rubber boots, wicker baskets, and a knife, looking for mushrooms. Mushroom picking is a great opportunity to spend some time outdoors and ensure a delicious meal, so it’s no surprise that it’s still popular with many people today. The porcini mushroom is especially popular among mushroom pickers because of its slightly firm, yet tender texture. It tastes a bit nutty and has a particularly intense aroma. You’ll need patience and a good eye to find them, because porcini mushrooms are becoming increasingly rare.
When it comes to nutrition, these noble mushrooms are low in calories and rich in many proteins, minerals, and fiber. However, if you live in Germany, experts recommend keeping consumption of wild mushrooms per week below 7 oz (200 g), due to the possibility of radiation exposure. Today we will tell you how to identify porcini mushrooms in the forest and how to prepare them in the kitchen.
1. When and how to find porcini mushrooms
Porcini season starts in June, but depending on where you live, you can forage or buy fresh porcini mushrooms until November—provided the weather plays along. A good porcini year, they say, begins with a humid spring. When in-season, you can find fresh porcini mushrooms at food markets or in the woods, while dried porcini is available all year round in supermarkets. Since they’re becoming more difficult to find, they’re usually more expensive than other types of mushrooms.
If you have an affinity for strolling through forests, don’t forget to take a wicker basket with you the next time you go, and keep an eye out for them. In Germany you can pick mushrooms in any forest area, barring nature reserves and national parks. Porcini mushrooms usually grow at the base of shady trees, like spruce or pine. You can identify it by its thick, white stalk and brown, suede-like cap, which is domed and has a white rim. Keep in mind that mushrooms should never be plucked from the ground. Use a sharp knife to gently cut them at the stem so that the root system remains intact, allowing for more mushrooms to grow in the future.
2. Storing and preparing porcini mushrooms
Whether purchased or harvested, fresh porcini mushrooms should ideally be eaten on the day of, as they spoil very quickly. In case this isn’t possible, you can store porcini mushrooms in a dry and cool place, where they’ll keep for about two days. Just wrap the porcini in paper towels and throw them into the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can also freeze or dry the porcini mushrooms, which’ll extend their shelf life tenfold. To freeze, simply clean and cut them into smaller pieces.
The rumor that mushrooms shouldn’t be washed under any circumstances is still relevant here. Excess water will dilute the porcini mushrooms’ fragrant aroma, so try not to let them sit in a pool of water. That being said, it’s not uncommon for mushrooms to come into contact with bacteria and worms, so cleaning them thoroughly is vital. To clean, use a damp cloth or soft brush to remove any dirt or soil residue, then lightly rinse them with water and trim the ends. For larger porcini mushrooms, you should remove the spongy tissue under the cap and cut the mushroom in half.
Drying porcini mushrooms
Dried porcini mushrooms pack a ton of flavor and will keep for several years, if stored properly. To do this, clean the mushrooms and pat them completely dry—they should not be moist under any circumstances! Then cut the porcini mushrooms into thin slices and spread them out on a baking tray. Let them dehydrate in the oven at 105°F (40°C). The oven door should be left slightly ajar so that the moisture can escape. Toss the dried mushrooms into an airtight container and store in a dark and cool place.
3. All the ways to enjoy in season porcini mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms have a slightly nutty and earthy taste, which goes well with many autumnal dishes. They also complement red meat and can shine on their own, like in a risotto. Some mushroom pickers prepare their collected treasures with butter, bacon, and onions for a hearty and savory mushroom dish that only needs some bread, pasta or eggs to complete the meal. The possibilities for how to prepare porcini mushrooms are endless, which means you can get really creative. Try tossing steamed porcini, walnuts, and goat cheese together for a quick winter salad or mix it with cream to make a light porcini soup. You can even blend porcini with fresh herbs to make a creamy mushroom pesto.
4. What to make next
All week long, we'll be featuring new porcini mushroom recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what's new, then try one for yourself! Here's where to start:
How do you like to prepare porcini mushrooms? Tell us in the comments below or upload your porcini recipe to our app and share it with our global community!
Published on October 25, 2020