So You Thing You Know Your Funghi? Mushroom Hunting in Italy

by Ashley in Italy /
Ashley in Italy's picture
Nov 18, 2009 / 1 comments

mushroom hunting in italy

Gather your baskets, pull on your rubber boots & grab a walking stick - now you're set to head off into our back woods for a proper mushroom hunt!

This fall we made many excursions with our guests, some more bountiful than others. Regardless if you bring home any that are edible or not it is such a great experience foraging for your food. But who are we kidding, it's always more fun when you find baskets full of the 'good ones'! Guests love mushroom hunting in Italy, what a story to take home!
holiday in le marche
For example check out those HUGE suckers in the photo above - they were toxic - not to the touch, only if you ingest it. And they were just so big & hysterical - we came across a whole family of them!

Jason & I are not experts on funghi species, we rely on the experience & knowledge of our dear friend Dott. Gaggi. He also controls the mushrooms & inspects each & every one to determine if they are safe to eat.

Dottore Settimio Gaggi

Dottore Settimio Gaggi

One beautiful fall afternoon, Jason & I decided to head-out for a walk & see what we'd come across. I was shocked! The leaf covered floor of the woods was filled with beautiful betolus (the latin word for the porcini family) - I was able to identify them by sight as the same family as the delicious porcini. I thought - Damn! we are good as we headed home with a basket full of these juicy jewels! Oh the doctor will be so proud!

Upon first glance he threw them out - "toxico" was all he said.
"But...aren't they in the betolus family," I stammered - proud to pull out my latin. "Yes, but these are betolus satanas!" We found kilos of Satan's Porcini - the Devils version of the wildly popular edible mushroom! Well with a name like that's its pretty cut & dry that this one should not be eaten! This is exactly why we have Dott. Gaggi inspect them!

Since then we've been out dozens more times & have brought home loads! From the famigliole to the coral reef looking manine or fingers, each outing out we are more familiar with the woods, where they like to grow & what's edible.After the inspection we add them to sauces, dry them or even stick them in the freezer to be used later as they conserve great!
Just a quick note: For more on identifying mushrooms check out: Rogers Mushrooms

Next we wait for the morels....

Ashley Bartner is the Living in Italy Editor for Wandering Educators.

La Tavola Marche Agriturismo & Cooking Holiday

Comments (1)

  • Alexandra Korey

    14 years 8 months ago

    Oh ashley, what fun. I would be scared to pick mushrooms in the woods for this very problem of not being an expert in IDing the poisonous ones. You are lucky to have sweet dottore Gaggi to help you. However, just one glance at that photo and I knew you had satan's porcini... that much I can tell ;-) It's the red underside. If a mushroom is red, don't eat it.

    A friend of mine was obsessed with finding edible mushrooms last year in Cortona. I wrote about our quest to find an expert to help him at the bottom of this article on Pienza, and there's a link to the places you can go in the province of Siena to check if your shrooms are edible:

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