Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Knowing Your Porcini Mushrooms

Today’s shopping basket is filled with porcini mushrooms. Admittedly, it’s not mushroom season yet but since dried porcini means that we never have to go without, I thought I’d jump the gun and raise a subject that’s very close to my heart. It’s a cautionary tale. Not all dried porcini are equal and it helps to know what you are looking for. So, for a few tips on finding the best, click on the shopping basket to your right.

While I'm here, if there are any Italian food products you’d particularly like to hear about, please feel free to let me know. Also, if you have any shopping stories to tell, pictures you might like to show or tips you want offer, again feel free to send them in my direction. I’m always shopping for new ideas!!!


  1. How about quince -what are some Italian things to do with it? I bought one recently and now I understand why you don't eat it raw (ick!).

  2. Hi Laney. Thanks for looking in. Quince... that's a good one. The Romans called it melimelum - which comes from the Greek, 'honey-apple'. But, as you rightly point out, 'ick', not because it's sweet, but because they used to preserve it in honey. Italians call it 'mela cotogna'. Most commonly it's used to make cotognata - a type of jam/sweet in which the quince is cooked, peeled and seeds removed, the pulp passed through a sieve, weighed and cooked along with equal amounts of sugar for a long, long time until it has a deep amber colour. It's then allowed to cool and can be cut into little cubes - like little jelly sweets. Alternatively, in my local province, they are used to make a traditional digestive drink called 'sburlon' - which roughly means to give you a slap (or push your dinner down). The fruit is mashed and covered in alcohol and left to flavour for up to 3 months. We then add sugar and water (some people add wine), it's bottled and ready to drink in a month. Other than that, it's commonly used to make mostarda - a honey-mustard preserve which is eaten with boiled or roast meats. In the autumn, when I can get hold of some, I'll write a full post on the subject but in the mean time, I hope this helps!

  3. Love Porcini baked on its own with a little fresh time, seasoning and rude amount of butter!! Can't find enough, here's tips to find some yourself - http://www.wildfoodandrecipes.co.uk/2012/09/the-penny-bun-cep-or-porcini-cooks.html