Oregon's misty weather and shady forests are a magnet for mushroom hunters. The best time to hunt porcini and most other mushrooms is September through October. "Porcini," or "piglets," is the Italian name for the mushroom boletus edulis and they are only one of the many edible marvels in the forests. The many national forests in Oregon are prime hunting grounds. The hunt requires an early morning start, information from the Forest Service on allowed hunting areas and size restrictions and a guide who recognizes friend from foe in the mushroom world.
Things You'll Need
- Forest Service mushroom collecting permit, as needed
- Hiking boots
- Rain gear
- Walking stick
- Sharp knife
- Canvas gathering bag
- Mushroom brush
- Mushroom guide
Check with the national forest nearest you (see Resources). Some forest services require you to have a permit, which is free, for personal mushroom collecting. Ask about size and quantity limits. Commercial hunters have to pay a fee to harvest mushrooms.
Don the boots and appropriate gear for a hike. Use the walking stick for help in hiking and to push aside leaf litter and pine needles on the forest floor in your search for porcini. Carry your permit, if required, in case a Forest Service ranger needs to see it. Consult the map frequently so you know where you are going and how to get back.
Know your quarry. Porcini mushrooms have large brown caps, grow in groups and have pores instead of gills on the underside of the cap. The base is thick and bulbous and the cap has lacy veining over the fruit. They can be found mounded under pine needles or leaf litter on the forest floor.
When you harvest a porcini, cut it off with a sharp knife at ground level. The mycelium live underground and will fruit again either this season or the next if left undisturbed. Brush off the dirt on the mushroom. Cut the mushroom in half and put it in your canvas tote.
Store the mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator but don't wait too long to eat them. Mushrooms are best fresh, so only wait a day. You can also dry them for longer preservation. Drying intensifies the flavor.
Tips & Warnings
- If you are collecting only for personal use, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service ask that you cut mushrooms in half when you harvest them so they are not valuable as a commercial commodity.
- If you are in doubt about the kind of mushroom you have, do not eat it. Many people get sick every year from toxic mushrooms. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- Photo Credit Vincenzo Lombardo/Photodisc/Getty Images
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