We’ve written extensively on wild Italian mushrooms in the past, including recipes as the featured ingredient, how to hunt for wild mushrooms, and even how to pickle and preserve mushrooms so they can be enjoyed year round. However, we’ve never given our readers a general overview of mushrooms and specifically how Italians view and consume mushrooms.
In Italy, foraging for wild mushrooms (funghi) is a common practice especially in the more rural areas and in and around the Alps and Apennine mountains where conditions are ideal to find prized wild mushrooms. April through Early November is peak mushroom picking time in Italy, but in my parent’s home region of Calabria mushroom picking continues into the early winter months and the volume of mushrooms to be hunted is mostly dependent on how much rain has fallen in the months leading to the prime season.
Wild mushroom varieties vary from region to region in Italy and are tied to specific conditions in the forest and tree types. Porcini, pioppini, russulas, morels, and chanterelles for example are tied to oak, beech, chestnut and pine forests. Some wild mushroom varieties are even said to protect our skin from sun damage, one of the many reasons why they are popular in the Italian diet.
Most wild mushrooms should never be eaten raw and some even called to be boiled prior to consuming. In general, it’s best to consume wild mushrooms while still fresh (i.e., a day or two after collecting). Many wild mushrooms can be fried, sautéed, or braised with olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Wild mushrooms are great as antipasti, with pasta (including as a stuffing with ricotta), as a main ingredient in risotto, and made into soups.
Scordo Mushroom Recipe: