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What are Porcini Mushrooms?

Boletus edulis–known as porcini, cep, Steinpilz, or penny bun mushrooms–is an edible mushroom that can be found fresh or dried. Porcini mushrooms are utilized for their earthy, meaty flavor in recipes for Italian pasta and rice dishes, soups and sauces, and savory specialties like risotto

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Where Do Porcinis Grow? 

In the wild, porcini mushrooms grow in small clusters near trees in forests and can be found in the Northern Hemisphere across parts of Europe (particularly Italy), Asia, and North America.

What Are the Characteristics of Porcini Mushrooms? 

Porcini mushrooms have a nutty, earthy taste. They can vary in size, shape, and color, but generally, the top forms an umbrella over the stout stem. Porcini mushrooms have:

  • Tan to dark brown rounded cap 
  • Cream colored cylindrical stem 
  • Firm, solid white under cap 
  • Wide base which thins toward the top 
  • Half moon shape when sliced 

How Do You Select Good Porcini Mushrooms? 

Fresh porcini mushrooms are in season during the summer and fall. They grow in the soil around trees, particular beech, birch, pine, chestnut, hemlock, and spruce trees. If you prefer to buy porcini mushrooms rather than hunt for your own, you can find them fresh, dried, frozen, or canned at the grocery store or farmers market.

Fresh porcinis are sometimes hard to find, so freeze your stash when you get ahold of them, or you can stock up on dried porcini.

When selecting fresh porcini mushrooms, look for these characteristics: 

  • Large, thick caps that are firm, undamaged, and brown in color 
  • Pale color under cap 
  • No black spots, which can indicate they’re overripe 
  • No small holes, which can indicate worms 

When selecting dried porcini mushrooms, look for these qualities: 

  • Reddish-brown caps 
  • Whole mushroom pieces, not crumbled 
  • Stored in an airtight bag or container 
  • Strong smell, which can often come through the packaging

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