Cep mushrooms are a delicacy that has been enjoyed in Europe for centuries. The ceps are small, but pack a punch of flavour. They were one of the few edible mushrooms so popular among the nobles that they were often referred to as “the prince of mushrooms.”
If you foraging for wild mushrooms you can find them in woods and forests throughout North America, Europe, and even Asia too!
In this mushroom guide I will teach you how to identify ceps, where to find them, when is the best time to go foraging for ceps and cook up some delicious recipes with your harvest. Get ready because we’re going on a mushroom hunt!
Are Ceps and Porcini the same?
This is a common question with a simple answer, yes. The porcini is the name given to a cep in Italy. It is also commonly referred to a penny bun in the UK. When you hear people talking about foraging porcini’s, finding pennybuns, boletus edulis, or that it’s cep season, they are all talking about the same mushroom.
Cep mushrooms are not always easy to find in stores and tend to grow wild so you will need some outside help when it comes time for them to be found.
When to forage ceps
Generally, ceps will start to appear anywhere from mid summer to late autumn so keep them in mind from July onwards. We have seen small ceps in June and giant ceps in October, so they vary a lot depending on the time of year you might be foraging.
The best way is by paying attention during the fall months of October through November
Where to find ceps
The cep mushroom is usually found in the woods, at the bottom of trees and stumps or even under leaves. Some people will find them in old piles of firewood too.
In general though ceps (boletus edulis) like to grow near hardwoods such as an oak tree and maple trees but they can be seen anywhere from white pine all the way up to spruce trees. They will be growing thin on the ground or poking out from under leaves so keep your eyes peeled!
Cep mushrooms have this amazing smell which might help to find them too so look with your nose as well as your eyes!
Identifying Cep Mushrooms
Ceps are usually pretty easy to identify. They have a long cylindrical shape and they can grow up to 20-25cm in height, although I find mine more often at about 15cm high or less.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what cep mushrooms look like as they will always be accompanied by their distinctive smell. Ceps differ from normal mushroom as they don’t have gills.
The family of mushrooms that the cep belongs to is called the bolete. These are all polypores which means they have pores instead of gills so you’ll see what appears to a sponge under the cap.
Cep Mushroom Recipes
The reason this mushroom is so prized is because of the taste. Ceps have a rich, creamy and earthy flavour which is fantastic with pasta or risotto dishes that call for porcini mushrooms.
Cep mushroom recipes can be found in any Italian cookbook so it’s not hard to find them but I’ll share one cep recipe below if you want some inspiration on how to use your foraged mushrooms.
Recipe: Cep Mushroom Risotto with Porcini and Parsley Gremolata
This is a vegetarian dish but you can make it into an entree by adding some chopped bacon to the mix. You will need:
– Olive oil (to taste)
– Butter or olive oil for sautéing
– Cep, Penny Bun, or Porcini mushrooms (fresh or dehydrated)
– Shallot, finely minced (to taste)
– Garlic, crushed and peeled (optional but recommended)
– Arborio rice (or any type of short grain white rice that you prefer to use for risotto recipes)*
– White wine or vegetable stock/coconut milk combo
– Fresh Thyme
To make the dish start by adding the olive oil (or butter to a saucepan and sauteing the shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and any additional seasonings you like.
Add the rice once those ingredients are cooked through and then add wine/vegetable stock until it is fully absorbed by the rice. Stir frequently while adding more vegetable stock once the liquid is absorbed by the rice.
Once all the liquid has been added and the rice is cooked through, remove from heat and stir in parsley. Season with salt to taste.
– Serve while still hot or cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a preheated oven on warm for up to twenty minutes before serving (this will enhance the flavour of the dish).
– Serve with a squeeze of lemon and parsley on top!
*Ceps are great for risotto or pasta recipes because they have such an earthy flavour that adds depth to any dish.