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Porcini Mushroom (Cepes)



Porcini (Boletus edulis) is a highly regarded mushroom known by many names, including Porcini (in Italy), King Bolete, Cèpe (in France), Hrib or Mântarc (in Romania) and Steinpilz (in Germany). Its scientific name, Boletus, from the Latin stem bolet-, meaning "Superior Mushroom" and edulis, meaning edible, goes far in describing the qualities of this mushroom.

The cap of Porcini is 7-30 cm broad at maturity, and mostly reddish-brown fading to white in areas near the margin; the color continues to darken as it matures. The stalk is 8-25 cm in height, and up to 7 cm thick-- rather large in comparison to the cap. The pores, which do not stain when bruised, are white in youth, fading to yellow and then to brown with age. Fully mature specimens can weigh about 2 pounds (1 kg). However, the most appreciated by gourmet are the young small porcini, as the large ones often have worms and insect inside, and they become slimy and less tasty with age.

Boletus edulis can be found solitarily or in groups most commonly in western Europe, western North America, and worldwide. Its habitat consists of areas dominated by pine, spruce, and fir trees. Not limited to these locations, the King Bolete is also found in hardwood forests containing oaks. It fruits from summer to autumn, following sustained rainfall.

As the name implies, Boletus edulis is edible, and most people consider it superior in flavor and in texture. It is described as nutty and slightly meaty, with a smooth, creamy texture. Porcini is eaten and enjoyed raw, sautéed with butter, ground into pasta, in soups, and in many other dishes.

There are many different kinds of porcini mushrooms, some edible, and some poisonous. In France the three most popular edible ones are:

  • Bordeaux Porcini (cèpe de Bordeaux), scientific name: Boletus edulis. This is the most well known porcini, and it is very appreciated by gourmets.
  • Negro Head (tête de nègre), scientific name: Boletus aereus. This one is more rare than the Boletus edulis, and it is by far the most appreciated by gourmets, as well as the most expensive. Usually smaller than the Boletus edulis, it is also distinctively darker in colour.
  • Pine tree Porcini (cèpe des pins), scientific name: Boletus pinophilus or Boletus pinicola. This one grows among pine trees. Its pores are characteristically bright yellow. It is less appreciated by gourmets than the two other kinds of porcini, but still remains a mushroom ranking above most other mushrooms.

As with all mushrooms, the Porcini should be inspected for insects as flies are often found throughout the mushroom.


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