When it comes time to buy dried porcini mushrooms, you’ll want to be armed with the best possible information.
While you can purchase fresh porcini mushrooms in some stores, most are sold in their dried form. The main reasons for this are the short growing season and the fact that they don’t hold up well during the shipping process. Having a short season coupled with only growing in the wild means that foragers must work quickly in order to harvest the highest quality mushrooms. Porcini mushrooms have many health benefits. They are high in iron, vitamins antioxidants, and minerals. In fact, some plant-based meats are made from mushrooms.
Dried Porcini Mushrooms are considered a culinary delight, especially in Italian and French cuisine. Also known as King Bolete, the porcini only grows in warm, temporal zones. Known as mycorrhizal mushrooms, they have a symbiotic relationship with trees such as pine, spruce, and chestnut. This means they can only be found growing at the base of trees. Once collected by foragers they are dried, packed, and sent to market.
In the wild, porcini mushrooms have a meaty, domed head that can reach up to 8 inches in diameter. Since they only thrive on the roots of certain trees, they can’t currently be grown as a crop. Porcini mushrooms must be harvested in their natural state by hand. Their growing season is from summer to fall, with trained foragers descending to the forests in autumn to collect them.
Where Can I Buy Dried Porcini Mushrooms?
You can buy dried porcini mushrooms in many local supermarkets, farmers’ markets, health food stores, Italian markets, or online.
It’s your first foray into the world of porcini mushrooms? It may help to check the local mushroom hunting societies and clubs. There’s a good chance that these folks will know exactly where you can find dried porcini mushrooms near you, especially as nearly every state has these clubs. To find out more, visit their main page.
To give you a helping hand, we’ve collected some links on where you can buy dried porcini mushrooms:
How to Find Dried Porcini Mushrooms in the Grocery Store
You can buy dried porcini mushrooms at many local grocers. In most cases, they can be found either in the spice department among the dried, packaged herbs, in the produce department, or in the Asian section of your supermarket.
One word of caution: Porcini and Shiitake mushrooms may look similar, so if you really want porcini, then read the label, and just don’t go by sight alone. However, if you do accidentally pick up a Shiitake bag, no worries as they are similar and can be used interchangeably between recipes.
Warning: Buy Dried Porcini Only From Reputable Sources
When buying dried porcini mushrooms at the grocery store or online, it’s imperative you only use reputable sellers. Reputable sellers will use highly trained foragers who know the basic differences between mushrooms. After all, not all mushrooms are good for you, as some can make you quite sick.
As a result of a few isolated cases of people falling ill from eating dishes made from dried porcini mushrooms, researchers Bryn Denlinger and Laura Martinez-Suz of London tested the DNA of one bag of imported Chinese porcini. They found that the bag not only contained samples of dried porcini mushrooms but also samples of 3 unnamed species:
“Mysterious mushrooms: There were 15 pieces of mushroom in the bag and all them belonged to three unnamed species, indicating that experts know little about the vast group of fungi, even if they are widely used in cooking.”
In other words, during the foraging process, 3 other species of mushroom were collected along with the porcini, dried, and packaged for sale, resulting in the illness.
Another consideration when buying dried porcini mushrooms involves pollution. If harvested in areas where the land is polluted you risk getting mushrooms that are packed with dangerous chemicals. While eating one serving of a dish made from these mushrooms may not hurt you, regular consumption could.
Of course, this means that regulations should be in order. Until testing methods and/or regulations are present, please only buy dried porcini mushrooms from sources you can trust.
Also Read: An Essential Guide To Buying Dried Mushrooms
How to Select the Best Dried Porcini Mushrooms When Shopping
Dried porcini mushrooms are expensive, therefore, you’ll want to purchase the highest quality possible. Your first choice should be to visit grocers in person so you can examine each bag, something you can’t do when buying online. Your best bet is to call these markets ahead of time to ensure they have them in stock before you go.
Once at the store, proceed to examine the packages of dried porcini mushrooms carefully. Never buy dried porcini mushrooms that are filled will small pieces. This is because they are just too old, brittle, and crumbly, so won’t be as flavorful or have enough texture.
Examine the caps. The color should be a healthy-looking brown with hints of red or sienna. Again, the bag should be filled with good size dried porcini, not bits and pieces.
Finally, lift the package up to your nose and give a good sniff. Porcini are potent so you should be able to get a good whiff through the plastic. If you can’t get a hint of the mushroom aroma, then put the bag back as they’re too old to use.
Dried Porcini Mushrooms Price: How Much Should You Expect to Pay?
This will depend on several factors. These factors include the location of your grocers or how the porcini mushroom season was. For instance, if it was a bad year for foraging, then the prices will be higher. Likewise, if there’s not much of a market for porcini mushrooms in your area, the prices will also be higher.
Whether you purchase them online or in the store, know that they command a high price per pound. In general, dried porcini mushrooms can be sold for $30.00 to $70.00 or more.
As you can see, this pack of dried porcini mushrooms goes for $84.99 per pound at Wholefoods online market.
In contrast, Mushroom House’s dried porcini mushrooms grade AA sells for $33.60 per pound on Amazon.
The reason for commanding such a high price depends on the quality of the dried porcini mushrooms, the short time it takes for them to grow and mature, and the ease or difficulty of the actual foraging.
Other Options: Porcini Powder, Canned Porcini, and Fresh
Fanciers of the porcini mushroom also find its other forms enjoyable. These include porcini powder, canned porcini, and fresh. Porcini powder is made by taking dried porcini and grinding it into a fine powder. It’s so potent that just one quarter to one half of a teaspoon of the powder will provide your dish with a wonderful mushroom flavor.
Because fresh porcini mushrooms do not store well, you can only find them during their harvest season in fall. Since they can’t be shipped from overseas, you’ll only find fresh porcini in areas where it is harvested. If you have your heart set on fresh porcini mushrooms, then your best bet is to contact your local mushroom hunters club and they’ll be able to direct you to the best place in your area to purchase them.
Canned porcini mushrooms are a great way to always have the richness of the porcini mushroom on hand for your culinary fare. Canned mushrooms come pre-cooked, and cut into slices so all you need to do is saute, add to side dishes, or as a condiment for pasta. Some may even find them tasty on their homemade pizza.
Last but not least, if you are truly in need of porcini mushrooms to fulfill a recipe requirement, then the next best thing may be the Shiitake mushroom. These mushrooms are less expensive than the porcini and come with a heavier flavor and meatier texture.
Once rehydrated, the delightful porcine introduces a coveted smokey flavor to your dish while providing it with a meaty texture. Perfect for potato and pasta dishes we well as soups and stews, we just know that once you’ve tasted the dried porcini mushrooms, you’ll wonder how you ever cooked without them. Dried porcini are also heavy on the health benefits and even score some points with medicinal purposes.