Every year in early autumn, many mushroom pickers are drawn to the forests, the popularity of this hobby is increasing and the porcini mushroom is certainly one of the mushroom varieties that are very popular. That’s why it’s at the top of the list of coveted collectibles. Soon, when late summer arrives, the porcini mushroom will be there, but you really have to look for it. Unlike many other mushrooms, it does not grow in places where it cannot be overlooked and certainly not in any quantity. Not only the great taste alone makes it so popular, it is above all the valuable ingredients that make this mushroom so popular. It is rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamins B₁ and B₂.
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The porcini mushroom (Boletus edulis) belongs to the boletus family. There are a number of species within this designation, but these are not individually interesting for the mushroom picker and are therefore all grouped under the designation porcini mushroom. These types of ceps are found in the European region:
- Bronze boletus or black-hatted porcini
- Summer porcini mushroom
- Common porcini mushroom or master mushroom
- White boletus
- pine boletus
The porcini mushroom got its name because its flesh is harder than usual. The different strains not only have different typical locations, but also different times at which they grow. The summer porcini mushroom can be found a long time before the actual “mushroom season” in autumn, it can be found as early as May.
The summer porcini mushroom
It is one of the particularly popular porcini mushrooms, but like its other companions of the Boletus variety, it may only be collected in small quantities for personal use.
The cap of the summer boletus is a result of drought. The light to hazel stalk is covered with a fine, net-like raised braid. Like all other fungi from the thick boletus family, it is primarily found in deciduous forests. Beech and oak are trees with which the fungus lives in a so-called root symbiosis. He is quite undemanding when it comes to his living space. The soil can be alkaline, neutral or acidic, and it can also be loamy or dry. The summer porcini does not like sandy soil so much, it is rarely found here.
The common porcini mushroom
In contrast to its relative, the summer porcini mushroom, the common porcini mushroom is often found in spruce forests, but it also grows very well in deciduous forests or under other conifers. This has earned it the alternative name spruce boletus. Its hat is brownish, its pores on the underside can look up to olive yellow. Its web pattern on the stem is light, it is the porcini mushroom that is traded commercially.
These two varieties of porcini are popular for collecting and because porcini are considered a delicacy, you naturally want to be able to store them accordingly. Anyone who has not yet dealt with the topic of collecting mushrooms and would like to use this year’s late summer and autumn to find the first specimens should note a few basic things.
If you have caught a poisonous mushroom and the first signs of mushroom poisoning become noticeable, immediate action is important. The first signs are nausea, vomiting, cramps, flatulence or diarrhea. If these symptoms occur after eating mushrooms, a doctor should be consulted immediately. If available, a remainder of the mushrooms should be kept and possibly taken with you.
Important information about collecting mushrooms
One should deal with the topic before picking mushrooms and, just to be on the safe side, take someone with you who is an experienced mushroom picker. Even if you have the image in your head of the mushroom you want to find, there can be confusion on the spot. Some of the poisonous specimens look very similar to edible mushrooms and can easily be confused. Alternatively, you can pick mushrooms in a group led by a knowledgeable guide. A proven expert can then assess the mushrooms and give the go-ahead for what can go out of the basket and into the pan.
However, since the porcini mushroom can hardly be confused with any other mushroom, this danger is definitely limited. The gall boletus could be confused with the porcini mushroom. However, if you put a small corner of it in your mouth, you will immediately know which mushroom you are dealing with. The gall boletus tastes very, very bitter!
Where are the mushrooms kept when collecting?
Mushroom pickers take a basket with them to collect, into which the mushrooms are placed. In this they remain airy and fresh throughout the collection period, in a plastic bag they would go through the process of putrefaction very quickly. Care should be taken not to put too many mushrooms on top of each other so that they do not press each other. You also need a sharp knife, because:
When cutting it off, you can immediately check whether the cutting point is not discolored. This is a sign that it is a porcini mushroom. Below the surface, of course, the fungus has its roots, which are present as thick fleshy roots – the so-called rhizomes. A new fungus grows out of them again and again, if they were destroyed by turning them out, the fungus could no longer grow back. The rhizomes ensure the plant’s chances of survival because they are underground and therefore protected. If you remove or crush a fungus, a new one can grow unhindered.
By the way, porcini mushrooms can always be found directly under or near trees. If you want to be sure that the mushrooms are not infested with maggots – which can happen – you should cut them lengthwise.
Clean up after gathering
Collected mushrooms are taken out of the basket at home and spread on the kitchen table. Now you can take a closer look at them and check them out. Regardless of the variety, mushrooms should be checked for damage or rotten spots, as well as vermin. To remove impurities, a soft brush or brush is used.
Sometimes it may be necessary to peel off the cap’s skin with a sharp knife. Depending on the type of mushroom, the skin on the stalk is also peeled off and the stalk is separated from the cap.
drying and freezing
Mushrooms should actually be prepared and consumed fresh. If, contrary to expectations, the yield is higher or there are not as many mushroom lovers at the table as expected, you can of course keep the mushrooms. It would be a shame to throw them away, that’s whyYou can choose to freeze or dry. In addition, it can of course happen that the harvest should be intended for winter storage. Of course, you have to prepare the porcini accordingly. Dried porcini mushrooms can also add flavor to a delicious dish later on. There have been reports that purchased porcini mushrooms were contaminated with pesticide residues. That’s why connoisseurs prefer to look for their porcini mushrooms themselves and dry them, so they can still enjoy them weeks and months later.
It is already known from dried fruits, which also have a much more intense sweetness and a concentrated taste of their own. This is no different with porcini mushrooms, which is why drying them is very popular. Here, however, you have to be careful that they can only dry properly in dry air, otherwise they will become mouldy. To do this, after cleaning, the porcini mushrooms are cut into evenly thick slices with a brush or damp cloth.
For drying you need grates, such as those that come out of the oven or are used to cool cakes. A clean, dry kitchen towel is spread out on top of this, and the mushroom slices are laid out side by side on it. Please make sure that the mushrooms are not lying on top of each other. So they come to a warm and dry place and can be turned there the next day. This is also done on the following days until they are finally completely dry after a few days.
Alternatively, they can be dried in the oven at around 40° or in a dehydrator. Under no circumstances should they be too close together and thus prevent each other from drying completely. Of course, the mushrooms are also cleaned for drying and then cut into the smallest possible size so that the drying process does not take too long.
Today’s modern storage involves the freezer rather than drying or dehydrating. If you want to freeze your porcini mushrooms, you first clean them as you normally would when preparing them for a meal. That’s important, because when you get them out of the freezer later, you can’t do it again. It is probably better to put the porcini in freezer bags, not only for reasons of space, especially if they are to be stored in a freezer. In freezers, they can be better stored in freezer boxes because they can be stacked better there.
They are placed loosely in the freezer, sealed tightly and can wait around a year in cold sleep to be used again. But you don’t thaw them first, you put them frozen straight away in soups or sauces.
Porcini mushrooms should be cut off with a knife. Turning out of the ground destroys their roots and they don’t grow back as nicely. The transport takes place in an airy basket and not in the plastic bag. At home, they can be used fresh in salads, as a soup or as a sauce. When used for storage, they should be dried or frozen for a year, or several years when dried.