Mushrooms are not a true vegetable in the sense that it does not have any leaves, roots, or seeds, and really does not need any light to grow.  It is a fungus, which grows in the dark and creates more mushrooms by releasing spores.  Mushrooms are found all over the world and have been a very honored food in many cultures. 

Porcini mushrooms are well valued for their meaty texture, interesting flavour, and distinguishing shape.  This variety is usually expensive, but is considered as one of the finest-tasting mushrooms.  Known as the king of wild mushrooms, the porcini (Boletus edulis), or cep mushroom is widely hunted and harvested throughout South Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, China and Mexico.  Due to the fact that porcini mushrooms have not yet been successfully cultivated, fresh porcinis are rarely found in grocery stores.


Mushrooms are brimming with protein, B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic), and minerals (selenium, potassium, and copper).  They’re low in calories and may have antibacterial substances to help the body.  Cooked fresh mushrooms offer the most nutritional benefits versus the canned version that may have more sodium.

Nutritional value – porcini mushroom 100g (raw):







Total Fat










Health benefits and concerns:

Kidney stones:                Potassium reduces urinary calcium excretion, and people who eat high amounts of dietary potassium appear to be at low risk of forming kidney stones.  The best way to increase potassium is to eat fruits and vegetables.  The level of potassium in food is much higher that the small amounts found in supplements.

Multiple sclerosis (MS):         The consumption of vegetable protein, fruit juice, and food rich in vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium correlates with a decreased MS risk.

Stroke:                    Increasing dietary potassium has lowered blood pressure in humans, which by itself should reduce the risk of a stroke.  Maintaining a high potassium intake is best achieved by eating fruits and vegetables.


Porcini mushrooms have a long, firm, fleshy white stalk.  The cap is brown, fleshy, round, and convex, and can be smooth or velvety.  The underside of the cap differentiates the porcini from most other mushrooms, as it is covered with vertical tube-like pores instead of gills.  They have a rich, woodsy aroma.


When purchasing fresh porcinis, select mushrooms with firm stems and a rich, woodsy aroma.  If the stem is mushy or feels hollow, it is infested with insects.  You should look for firm, moisture free (not dry), unblemished caps, and free of mold.  If the mushroom lacks fragrance, it is probably old and will not have much flavour.  Fresh porcinis spoil quickly and should be eaten within a few days of collection or purchase.  Keep them in a paper bag or wrapped in a cloth.   

It is best to buy mushrooms from a reputable grower or grocer instead of hunting them yourself, as there are many poisonous mushrooms.  Incorrectly identifying them can lead to symptoms of sweating, cramps, diarrhea, confusion, convulsions, and potentially result in liver damage, or even death.  


Clean mushrooms only when you are ready to use them.  Remove bits of the debris on the surface, rinse with cold running water or gently wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, paper towel, or soft pastry brush.  


Mushrooms are versatile and may be eaten raw or cooked whole, sliced or chopped.  Dried mushrooms are intensely concentrated in flavour and should be treated more like a seasoning than a vegetable.  You’ll need to soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 – 30 minutes, rinse, then chop, and use.  Saving the soaking water and adding it to your sauces or soups will intensify the mushroom flavour.  You can also re-hydrate mushrooms in wine diluted water (about 10:1).     

Before using fresh porcinis, remove the base of the stem and the vertical tubes under the cap.  Porcinis should always be thoroughly cooked, as they have a reputation for causing stomach upset when eaten raw.  In addition, cooking brings out the flavour.  Sauté or fry them for 5 – 7 minutes;  or cook them in a small amount of liquid in a tightly sealed pan for 15 minutes.  Once cooked, use them in any recipe that requires mushrooms.  The flavour of porcinis blends especially well with Italian seasonings.  Porcinis are also delicious when grilled.  Brush the mushrooms with butter or oil just before placing them on the grill.  Heat the mushrooms thoroughly, sprinkle them immediately with Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Preparation hint:  squeeze a small amount of lemon juice on the mushrooms to retain the colour.  


Place purchased fresh mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator.  Airtight plastic bags tend to retain moisture and will accelerate spoilage.  Properly stored mushrooms will last for approximate five days.  

Dried mushrooms can be stored in a cool place in an airtight container for up to a year.

Mushrooms can be frozen but they must be cleaned, cooked, and placed in a container to freeze.  Don’t forget to mark the date on the container, frozen mushrooms will last several months.


Wild mushrooms are harvested for a limited time each year, therefore availability of fresh mushrooms are limited.  Limited quantities of mushrooms are slow dried to perfection, which preserves and enhances the flavours and aromas.

To order fresh or dried Porcini mushrooms, contact David de Villiers at 021 – 874 1020 or swanpack@grapenet.co.za.