Porcini Mushroom Powder
Porcini mushrooms, Boletus edulis, are an extremely popular mushroom. The powder made from the dried porcini mushroom is the perfect addition to anything that needs a big boost in umami flavor.
The word porcini is actually the Italian word for piglet! Germans call it "steinpilz" or the stone mushroom. In French these mushrooms are called "cepes" and in Russian they are called "belyi grib." In Arabic it is called "fatar busini." "Niu gan jun mogu" is the name in Mandarin. In Hindi these mushrooms are called "behatareen kism masharoom." In Japanese it is "Poruchini take," in Portuguese it is "cogumelo porcini" and in Spanish it is called "hongo porcini." It's also called the Penny Bun in America. Some mushroom hunters call it the "King Bolete," because of its popularity and rarity.
The porcini mushroom was highly prized by the Romans who called it boleti and cooked them in a tool called the boltaria.
During the 18th century, the Swedish king Karl Johan loved porcini mushrooms so much that his subjects began referring to them as karljohans in his honor.
The Porcini mushroom was a favorite of Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911), an Italian businessman and writer whose most popular book was a cookbook titled "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well." He wrote this book when he was 71 years old. One of his famed quotes goes, "every year come September, the price of mushrooms drops and I stock up on porcini." He used them dried all through the winter, but fresh porcini probably made their way to his table as an ingredient. He was fascinated by cooking and experimentation with the flavor of foods and appreciated cooking as more a science than an art.
This mushroom already grows in North America so it never had to find its way to America, it was already here. This is very lucky for those in this country who enjoy these delicious fungi. There is not as much of a market for porcini in America as there is in Europe, so the mushroom finding frenzy is a little less intense.
Porcini mushrooms begin with spores, not seeds, so tiny that the naked eye cannot see them. They rely on moisture, wood, or other organic material to get their energy to grow, since they contain no chlorophyll like other plants do. Technically mushrooms are a fungus, not a plant. Porcini mushrooms often form symbiotic relationships with pine trees. This means the trees' roots get more water from the mushrooms and the mushrooms get some of the sugars that the tree produces. They also find homes near hemlock, spruce, and chestnut trees. They have wide caps and their spores are released through tiny tubs under their caps. This is unlike other mushrooms, which have gills for spore dispersal. Because of their unique growing relationship with trees, the porcini mushroom is hard to grow in a controlled environment, so it is a rare mushroom that is often plucked from the wild. It is not completely understood how the mushroom interacts with its tree, so attempts to mass produce the mushrooms have not been very successful. They tend to grow individually or in clusters of two or three. These mushrooms are usually harvested in the fall.
This mushroom has a thick white stem that browns slightly with age and a cap that is pale brown but can range all the way to a rust brown color. They are very meaty mushrooms and can range in size and weight with some weighing up to two and a half pounds. They are usually three to five inches tall.
Our Porcini powder comes from China.
There are four types of mushrooms which all function with the environment in their own unique way. There are over 10,000 known species of mushroom and it is thought that there are many left to be discovered.
- Saprotrophs- These mushrooms like decomposing matter and contribute to the decomposition through the release of enzymes and acids into the world around them. Shiitake mushrooms are a good example of this type of mushroom.
- Mycorrhizae- This is the type of mushroom that the porcini is. This type of mushroom has a good relationship with its host plant, usually one in which both the host and the mushroom benefit and help one another. They are not easily grown away from their host plants.
- Parasites- These mushrooms take over their hosts' bodies and then eventually kill it. The Lion's Mane mushroom is a parasite.
- Endophytes- These mushrooms have the same kind of relationship with their host plant as the mycorrhizae, but the difference here is that they can be easily produced in lab environments away from their host plant. This means they do not require the symbiotic relationship to thrive. This is the least understood kind of mushroom, and sometimes the fungi doesn't even produce full mushrooms, so it is a loose categorization with no true example. It is believed that some mushrooms in other categories may actually be endophytes.
Some people like to add porcini mushroom powder to their dishes to add the flavor of mushrooms without the texture. The texture of mushrooms is sometimes described as rubbery and undesirable, and a powder has no texture once it has been added to another food.
Use this powder in omelets, sautéed with fresh vegetables, and to pasta sauces. Meat marinades are also particularly good with this
Another unique application for this powder is mixing some in with breadcrumbs before you add breadcrumbs to your macaroni and cheese. Shred some potatoes, fry them up and add cheese and porcini powder for out of this world hashbrowns.
You may be surprised to find this mushroom powder is delicious in savory muffins, too. Some people even enjoy sprinkling a little mushroom powder on their dried fruit. This gives a fascinating flavor combination. The umami of the mushroom pairs especially well with the sweetness of berries.
It can be added to anything you desire to have a little more of that umamai flavor. Grilled cheese tastes delicious with a little porcini powder added. Cheesy garlic bread also gets a boost from this powder.
Vegetarians are especially fond of porcini powder because it can make any mushroom gravy taste extraordinarily rich and satisfying. Just a little goes a long way.
Porcini pairs well with mint flavors, so things like spearmint would be an excellent friend in any dish featuring these mushrooms. Thyme is also a good flavor to pair with this mushroom powder.
Add only a small amount of this flavorful powder to begin with because a small amount will add a lot of flavor. You can always add more if you feel your dish is lacking. A little Porcini mushroom powder goes a long way.
People actually prefer the porcini mushroom powder to a fresh mushroom because the powder has a very concentrated flavor.
Porcini mushroom powder is rich and earthy, with a strong umami taste. Umami is the word for the fifth taste, pinpointed in the 1900s, which is fancy terminology for the flavor of glutamates.
Porcini mushroom powder can be used in place of MSG or salt.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*