The fall is such a fun time of year for foraging; I’ll never forget the first time in fall we were wandering the woods with my in-laws. Everyone had a basket and a knife looking for boletus edulis – or the cèpe mushroom. These large, brown topped, meaty mushrooms are also known as porcini in Italy.
FORAGING FOR CEPES :
Finding them is an art and requires a bit of luck. I’m not a naturally skilled forager and find everyone else around me is collecting while I stare at the dry leaves on the ground! If you hear about a day of rain in the fall, the next few days later you will see cars on the side of the road by the forests with people out trying their luck. A real local is never going to give away their secret spot though! There are great foragers here in Gironde, one named Yan Moya is a local who occasionally offers foraging days in known locations, where you’re most likely to go home with a treasure of cèpes.
If you’re worried about eating what you have found, pharmacists in France are trained to identify your mushrooms. Here is a site to locate a pharmacy near you that does this : https://www.pharmanity.com/search/mycologie/1-rue-paul-louis-lande-33000-bordeaux-france, however it can’t hurt to ask your own local pharmacy as not all that do this are listed.
HOW TO EAT CEPE :
When they are fresh, be sure to clean them immediately and get rid of any debris or insects that might be living in them. You’ll want the gills to be firm and light brown (not green, ideally). Use a paring knife to trim the ends and scrape off the grit. If needed, take a piece of paper towel dipped lightly in water to clean off the caps. You will not want to submerge the mushroom in water to clean.
My ideal method of serving cèpes is to get really firm, smaller ones, cut lengthwise, and sear in a pan with olive oil then adding butter, minced garlic and parsley towards the end. These mushrooms are a great addition to risottos and meat jus for sauces. However, often you’ll find you have found older cèpe or just have too many and I find slicing them and freezing or dehydrating is the best way to reuse. I’m not a huge fan of the canned ones as they lose a lot of their texture.
Making a dried mushroom powder to add to dishes for that extra umami flavor is also a great way to savor them year-round. Put them in slices on a baking sheet with wax paper at 100C until dried, you might want to turn halfway. Once dry, allow to cool off. You’ll want it to be tough, at least like beef jerky so that your spice grinder can break it up. Then store in an old spice jar.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CEPES :
Or contact us to organize a foraging tour, being aware this requires a lot of patience and flexibility 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org