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Porcini

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Porcini mushrooms of all sizes

Boletus edulis, commonly known as penny bun, porcino, porcini or cep, is a basidiomycete fungus, and the type species of the genus Boletus. Widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere across Europe, Asia, and North America, it does not occur naturally in the Southern Hemisphere, although it has been introduced to southern Africa and New Zealand.

The fungus grows in deciduous and coniferous forests and tree plantations.

Prized as an ingredient in various foods, B. edulis is an edible mushroom held in high regard in many cuisines, and is commonly prepared and eaten in soups, pasta, and risotto. The mushroom is low in fat and digestible carbohydrates, and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Although it is sold commercially, it has not been successfully grown in cultivation. Available fresh in autumn in Central, Southern and Northern Europe, it is most often dried, packaged and distributed worldwide.

Culinary usage

Boletus edulis, like its name implies, is an edible mushroom. Italian chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio has described it as representing "the wild mushroom par excellence", and hails it as the most rewarding of all fungi in the kitchen for its taste and versatility. Considered a choice edible, particularly in France, Germany and Italy, it was widely written about by the Roman writers Pliny the Elder and Martial.

The flavour has been described as nutty and slightly meaty, with a smooth, creamy texture, and a distinctive aroma reminiscent of sourdough. Young, small porcini are most appreciated by gourmets, as the large ones often harbor maggots (insect larvae), and become slimy, soft and less tasty with age. Fruit bodies are collected by holding the stipe near the base and twisting gently. Cutting the stipe with a knife may risk the part left behind rotting and the mycelium being destroyed. Peeling and washing are not recommended. The fruit bodies are highly perishable, due largely to the high water content (around 90%), the high level of enzyme activity, and the presence of a flora of microorganisms.

Porcini: What portion size makes one of my 5 a day vegetables?

Select Porcini from the drop-down selector below to find out what constitutes one portion of your 5-a-day vegetable program.

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3 heaped tablespoons of tinned Ackee
2 Globe Artichoke hearts
7 spears of tinned asparagus
5 spears of fresh asparagus
One third of an Aubergine/Eggplant
3 heaped tablespoons of barlotti beans
3 heaped tablespoons of black-eyed beans
3 heaped tablespoons of broad beans
3 heaped tablespoons of butter beans
3 heaped tablespoons of cannellini beans
4 heaped tablespoons of French beans
3 heaped tablespoons of kidney beans
3 heaped tablespoons of pinto beans
4 heaped tablespoons of runner beans
3 heaped tablespoons of soya beans
2 handfuls of fresh bean sprouts
3 whole bottled beetroot
3 whole fresh baby beetroot
2 spears of broccoli
8 Brussels sprouts
3 heaped tablespoons of butternut squash
2 handfuls of sliced cabbage
3 heaped tablespoons of shredded cabbage
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned carrots
3 heaped tablespoons of fresh carrot slices
8 florets of cauliflower
3 sticks of celery
3 heaped tablespoons of chickpeas
One fifth of a head of Chinese leaves
Half a large courgette
5 cm (2 inch) piece of cucumber
4 heaped tablespoons of curly kale
Half a karela (bitter melon)
1 leek (white portion only)
3 tablespoons of lentils
1 cereal bowl of lettuce (mixed leaves)
1 handful of mange-tout
3 heaped tablespoons of marrow
3 tablespoons of frozen mixed vegetables
14 mushrooms
2 tablespoons of dried mushrooms
16 medium Okra
1 medium Onion
3 heaped tablespoons of pak choi (Chinese cabbage)
1 large Parsnip
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned peas
3 heaped tablespoons of fresh peas
3 heaped tablespoons of frozen peas
Half a tinned sweet pepper
Half a bottled sweet pepper
Half a fresh sweet pepper
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned pigeon peas
3 heaped tablespoons of pumpkin
10 Radishes
2 heaped tablespoons of cooked spinach
1 cereal bowl of fresh spinach leaves
4 heaped tablespoons of cooked spring greens
8 spring onions
1 handful of sugar snap peas
3 heaped tablespoons of swede
1 large sweet potato
6 baby sweetcorn
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned sweetcorn
1 whole sweetcorn cob
1 heaped tablespoon of tomato puree
2 whole tinned plum tomatoes
1 whole fresh tomato
7 fresh cherry tomatoes
3 heaped tablespoons of turnip
150ml glass of unsweetened vegetable juice
150ml glass of vegetable smoothie
1 cereal bowl of fresh watercress

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