The autumnal season is one of the best times for foraging, many things having enjoyed the warm and wet of summer are now fruiting, one thing in particular being the mushroom. A firm favourite here at Delilah and an ingredient that makes a constant appearance on our menu.
Nicknamed ‘the king’ and coveted by chefs world wide, the mighty mushroom that most will know from its Italian translation is the ‘Porcini’. Amidst the shifting of terms, science has kept things in order, strictly labelling it as Boletus edulis (the Latin name ‘edulis’ simply meaning ‘edible’).
We tend to see a variety of sizes grow here in the UK – anywhere from thumb size to the circumference of your whole hand – and they look like a 'proper mushroom' large umbrella-shaped chestnut-coloured glossy cap and a thick, meaty stem. It will generally be seen eight days after rain around August to November and this mushroom will be sprouting deep within forestry, most likely under broad-leaved and coniferous trees.
Young specimens are usually favoured over older specimens, often maggot-ridden, and will be cooked, pickled or dried. The pores in older ‘middle-aged’ specimens change from white to a dull yellow-green colour.
It’s not just their appearance that gets us excited, it’s their umami, typical autumnal taste and aroma. They are sweet and soft with a little textural bite, fresh porcini are firm favourites amongst gourmet chefs and can be sautéed and eaten as a side dish or added to risotto and pasta. A popular way to prepare dried porcini, is to steep them in just enough warm water, covering for 20 to 30 minutes or until they've softened and expanded. Then simply drain and reserve the liquid to add rich flavours to broths, stews or risotto!
It’s important to follow the unwritten rules of mushroom picking, as other animals also consume mushrooms and they play an important ecological role. Some woods are sadly being over picked of wild mushrooms so foragers are urged to be considerate when harvesting!Happy hunting…but do know we’ll usually have the dried kind in stock if you are out of luck!