Porcini mushrooms are among the finest edible mushrooms in this country. Botanically, it is a species of fungus of the genus thick boletus. The name comes from the relatively hard flesh compared to other species. For laypeople, however, this is mostly uninteresting, they are mainly concerned with the taste qualities of porcini mushrooms. Real gourmets can hardly wait for the porcini mushroom season to start again.

The beginning of the mushroom season in Germany depends on the weather conditions. It generally begins between May and June and can last into November. Due to the different species, the season of porcini mushrooms is relatively long. A wet spring can often be a sign of a good mushroom season. However, dry weather can dampen the joy of collecting.

Porcini mushrooms require different conditions depending on the species. Most prefer nitrate-rich, acidic soils, others more calcareous. They can be found in spruce and beech forests, as well as near pine and oak trees. So-called indicator plants such as stinging nettles and balsam can be an indication of nitrate-rich soils and thus also fungi.

Note: Porcini mushrooms are protected in Germany and may only be collected in small quantities for personal use.

1. Sommer-Steinpilz (Boletus reticulatus)

The summer porcini heralds the mushroom season. It is one of the first boletes of the year and can be collected as early as May, depending on the weather. In a mild, warm autumn you can still find them in October. They grow on calcareous soils near oaks and beeches .

  • Cap skin dull, finely tomentose-fibrous, light brown
  • Fibers at the edge usually somewhat darker
  • Cap can tear open in patches when dry
  • Reaches a diameter of up to 30 cm
  • Stem has raised, net-like, light brown to white markings
  • Network structure significantly darker than that of the spruce boletus
  • Tubes whitish when young
  • Later change color from creamy yellow to olive yellow
  • Flesh of summer porcini is white
  • Retains its color even when pressured or injured
  • Flavor is relatively mild
Tip: The summer porcini mushroom is one of the few types of mushrooms that can also be eaten raw.

2. Common porcini / spruce porcini (Boletus edulis)

The season for the spruce boletus begins in July and ends in November. It prefers locations with older spruce stands and acidic to neutral soil. Young specimens sit so deep in the ground that only the white or brownish, hemispherical cap protrudes.

  • Cap reaches a diameter of up to 30 cm
  • Initially whitish and becoming hazel with age
  • Fruit bodies are firm and very productive
  • Mature specimens, some with very large fruiting bodies
  • Tube mouths of older mushrooms yellow to olive green
  • Stems up to 20 cm long
  • Diameter at the base two to ten centimeters
  • Porcini mushroom smells and tastes pleasantly mushroomy
  • Can also be eaten raw
Tip: Pepper boletus, flour rasp and fly agaric can also act as porcini mushroom indicators, where they grow, the porcini mushroom is not far away.

3. Boletus aereus (Boletus aereus)

With a lot of luck, you can find the bronze boletus from July to September. Provided you look for it in dry to fresh deciduous forests with clay, limestone or marl soil. The latter is a mixture of clay, sand and limestone.

  • Cap chestnut to blackish brown or light bronze
  • Diameter between four and fifteen centimeters
  • Has a velvety, frosted surface
  • Flesh is firm, white, rarely turning reddish
  • Does not turn bluish when printed
  • Stem is ocher to light brown and fibrous and grooved
  • At the top with whitish to brown netting
  • Whitish and thickened at the base
  • Bronze boletus smells nutty and almond-like
  • Flavor is mild, mushroomy and nutty

4. Kiefernsteinpilz (Boletus pinophilus)

The pine bolete is found in almost all of Germany, but is a very scattered species from region to region. Its season also begins in July and ends in October. This porcini mushroom can be found during the season near pine trees, with which it forms a symbiosis.

  • Hat is rich reddish brown and up to 30 cm wide
  • Young, hemispherical and thick-fleshed, later cushion-shaped
  • Has a furrowed, almost dented surface
  • Slightly greasy in wet weather
  • Edge is rolled and mostly lighter
  • Flesh initially white and firm
  • Spongy with age
  • Slightly pink to reddish or brownish under the cuticle
  • Pine boletus smells pleasant, slightly mushroomy
  • Tastes mild and nutty

Harvest of porcini mushrooms

Mushrooms should not be cut off with a knife, but twisted off carefully. This way the damage to the fungus network is the least. In addition, the base of the stem is an important distinguishing feature in order to be able to identify poisonous varieties. If you cut off the mushrooms, there is a risk that the part left behind will start to rot and contaminate the soil.

This also applies to so-called ‘abortions’. This means tiny, underdeveloped fruiting bodies. They too can rot. After harvesting, the site is covered with some soil. In general, you should only harvest fresh and healthy specimens and only as many as you can consume in a short time.

Note: Only porcini mushrooms that you know well and, if in doubt, leave one or the other alone should be considered for harvesting. Or you can enlist the help of experts.

risk of confusion

Like most mushrooms, the porcini mushroom has doubles. In this case it is the inedible bile boletus (Tylopilus felleus) also known as the bitterling.

Mix-ups happen mainly in the young stage, then they look particularly similar. Differences only become apparent later, for example in the tubes. They turn pink with age, while those from porcini mushrooms become olive-yellow or greenish-yellow. The stalk or its grain is much finer in the porcini mushroom. The most important distinguishing feature is the taste. The gall boletus is not poisonous but very bitter and therefore inedible.

Tip: If you want to be sure, you can scratch the stalk of the mushroom and lick it. Or you bite off a small piece of the fruit body, chew it up and spit it out again.

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