Time to head to the woods: looking for Porcini mushrooms

Yeah! It’s that time of the year again. In October I am on “high alert” for my friend Antonio to call me for a mushroom expedition.

Antonio is passionate about mushrooms, or I would say, he is crazy about them (a bit like Antonio Carluccio) and has many mushroom books; he is an expert basically.

As an Italian immigrant who has been living in England for the last 50 years, he has kept his Italian attitude to food intact. He makes his own jams, fruit flavoured spirits and even a bit of wine from the grapes he has in his courtyard! I love to go to his house as it is like going back to a Italy that no longer exists. People who emigrated from their native country often keep the same memories and mentality of the country back to the time when they left.

porcini mushrooms

So you can imagine: old photographs in black and white all over the walls, big family gatherings, lots of food on the table and always some pizza, focaccia, cake.. ready for anyone who comes and visits and yes, I do visit his family REGULARLY!

sliced porcini mushrooms

As I am not an expert in mushroom picking, I have been feeling quite sensitive after reading scary stories about people being poisoned by picking the wrong ones.

Some fungi are so toxic that only a few grams will poison someone and some don’t have an effect straight away;  they will show symptoms of poisoning after many hours of eating them, just when it will be too late!

That’s why I always make sure I go with someone who knows them. If you ask experienced mushroom pickers they will tell you that once you get to know mushrooms and you get experienced enough, it will actually be quite difficult to get them wrong and anyway if you were slightly unsure you would discard them in the first place.

woods in the mountains

My Italian relatives all went mushroom picking and I grew up eating all sorts of wild mushrooms.  My dad is still a keen picker and he often gets Chiodini which is a small brown variety of Italian mushroom and Chanterelle.

As we found a couple of baskets of Porcini, I have sliced them about 1/2 cm thick and left them to dry on a basket for a week. When they are dry enough you can store them in a glass jar and they will last for years. Lots of people pickle or freeze them as well. When I need them I soak them in water for 20 minutes and then cook them.

Mushrooms are excellent in risotto or pasta and they go very well with meat too. My favourite dish is tagliatelle with Porcini a dish to die for. Keep following as I will be making that soon!

mountains in Friuli

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22 Responses to Time to head to the woods: looking for Porcini mushrooms

  1. Tamara

    I want to meet this italian friend of yours…. Maybe we should just auto-invite ourselves to yours for a meal…… I don’t really have any italian “friends” in england…… 😀

    • My Little Italian Kitchen

      And why not! But I warn you: there will be plenty to eat and drink and ongoing, basically eat as much as you can fit it!:-)

  2. lazylauramaisey

    Mushrooms, truffle and risotto – one of my favourite combinations of Italian ingredients. I can’t wait for that tagliatelle recipe.

    • My Little Italian Kitchen

      Yes I love it too! 🙂

  3. Pamela Haack

    Fantastic! What fun hunting down porcini … also delicious on the table! 🙂

    • My Little Italian Kitchen

      Thank you Pamela. Yes they are heaven to palate and the senses!

  4. Sarah Scott

    Oh Alida, I want a friend like Antonio! Beautiful post and really interesting. I too am looking forward to that recipe.

  5. jaz

    omg…i would die for a good mushroom hunter companion! it is one of the things i most want to do but no one around here does it! envy..mushroom envy!

  6. caitlinsconfections

    I absolutely love mushrooms. I think I should come visit for a mushroom hunt 🙂

  7. la cucina di Molly

    ..e già, è tempo di funghi ed è bellissimo avere qualcuno che conosca le varietà di funghi per andare a raccoglierli! Meraviglioso quel cesto di funghi secchi,un’ottima idea per conservarli! Ciao

  8. Catherine

    Dear Alida, What a beautiful way to spend a day. Looking forward to the recipes. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  9. Ombretta

    Che posti meravigliosi , per trovare dei porcini:) e quante ricettine poi da fare !!!

  10. unikorna

    You’ve touched a soft spot in my culinary preferences, I simply adore all sorts of mushrooms from champinion to brittle cap mushroom., also wild. I also used to go picking wild mushrooms with my mom, it usually is a great adventure. I love your posts more and more Alida :). Ciao.

  11. All That I'm Eating

    What a great experience. I’m very jealous and wish I had a friend like Antonio!

  12. lory b

    Quanto è bello passeggiare per i boschi in questa stagione in cerca di funghi!!
    Quel cesto è magnifico!!!
    Un abbraccio stretto e tanti baci!!!

  13. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    I am always afraid that I would pick up the poisonous ones if I go hunting for mushrooms. Lucky you having an expert friend.

  14. Pat

    Ive been mushrooming lately too. Right now we are getting lots of Lobster Mushrooms, so I clean them up and dehydrate them. Im anxiously waiting for the Chantrelles to come out. I only found one this past week but its a start. Its been very dry here this summer so the season is slow. And I went with two friends, one found one Bolete………which for you is Porcini. I see tho it looks as if you didnt remove the spongy gill part. I read you need to take that off first and peel the mushroom. Is this true?

    • My Little Italian Kitchen

      Dear Pat, I have never heard that. I usually just clean and wash them a little (they are so delicate!) and then I eat everything. X

  15. Mich - Piece of Cake

    oh wow, I wish I could pick my own mushrooms too… and the scenery is so gorgeous!

  16. Choclette

    Drying your own mushrooms is a fantastic idea. They are so expensive to buy. Sounds as though you had a very successful mushrooming trip. We were lucky enough to come across a whole load of field mushrooms when we were walking the cliffs a few weeks ago – they are one of the few I know. Luckily CT is a bit more experienced than me, so I do get to try different ones from time to time.

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