It’s mushroom season here in Colorado! My Facebook news feed has been dotted with photos of the gorgeous, wine-colored caps of wild porcinis for the last couple of weeks—some as big as three pounds!
I haven’t made it up to the mountains to do any hunting of my own yet, though I have a trip in the planning stages. In the meantime, though, my dear friend from the blog Hunger and Thirst gifted me with a couple of pounds of fresh porcinis last weekend! HUBBA HUBBA!
A while back, she wrote a great article about cleaning porcinis—aka, the unglamorous side of wild mushroom hunting. And it’s true: as with any wild food, and most homegrown and even some organic foods, these little gems aren’t going to be supermarket perfect. But they are worth the effort.
For example, a lot of people are turned off by the fact that the caps get kind of sticky and slimy after being stored for even a short amount of time, or that the pores (or gills) turn a sort of greenish yellow color on all but the youngest mushrooms.
Neither of these really bothers me. I left the caps intact, because they were just barely sticky, but the sticky brown part peels off pretty easily. I did remove the gills because (frankly) I was worried that my family would be weirded out by them.
It’s pretty easy to remove them. Once you slice the mushroom in half (or quarters, or whatever) the gills tend to peel away with your fingers very easily. Don’t toss the gills! I dried them in the sun—it only took about a day—and will use them later for mushroom stock.
But then there are the worms.
I have to admit, I don’t love the worms. They do kind of creep me out a little, and in our area, you find them in even the youngest, most perfect porcinis.
(No, those aren’t worms in the photo, but they are worm holes in the mushroom.)
The best way I’ve found to deal with them is to remove any you see right away (I like to have a paper towel handy for wiping my knife, and I work over the sink so I can just wash the little buggers down), then chop the mushrooms roughly and wait a few minutes. You’ll find more worms to get rid of. Then, as you’re chopping them up to whatever size you need for your recipe, you’ll find a few more. Take your time and pick through them again as you add them to your recipe. You’ll probably find a few more.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to chop them up REALLY FINE with your food processor, so that even if one escaped notice in the picking, it won’t be obvious in the eating.
Or, you can just dry them. The worms fall out on their own when the mushrooms are dried.
Grossed out yet? Don’t be! These are so delicious they really are worth the effort.
Whether you’ve got wild porcinis or some fresh from the market, this mushroom bolognese is a great way to put them to good use.
Looking for a simpler way to enjoy these fungal beauties? Butter has her favorite porcini recipe up at Hunger and Thirst today, too.