In Turkey, wild mushrooms start appearing with the passing of the summer heat and the coming of the cooler season. After careful picking, sorting, and cleaning, local chefs in Istanbul serve mushroom dishes in decadent varieties throughout their restaurants on a seasonal basis.
What to look for
There is no shortage of mushroom types in Turkey–in fact, there exist over 12,000 varieties! One can easily find various types of mushrooms that are popular in European cuisine. Some examples of mushrooms include porcini (çörek mantarı), chanterelle (sarı kız), red pine mushroom (kanlıca mantarı or çintar), black trumpet (borazan mantarı), and black morel (kuzu göbeği).
Where to pick them
You don’t have to leave Istanbul to go on a wild mushroom hunt. Look no further than in the Belgrade Forest or in the woods around Beykoz. If you plan ahead, you can participate in a Mushroom Walk that is hosted in Ağva during the fall season. If you’re up for a longer trip further outside of Istanbul, head to the Black Sea region during the rainiest months of the year. Follow the Facebook group Mantar Dostları to exchange information and tips on mushroom picking in the area.
Where to buy them
If you’re not an experienced wild mushroom picker who can differentiate the edible from the inedible types, buy your mushrooms from a trusted source instead. Kasımpaşa Inebolu Market, which is open on Sundays from 7am to 5pm, is a good place to find them. If you prefer not to leave your house while picking your mushrooms, visit the website Sakliorman.com to order fresh, dried, and pickled mushroom delicacies from their online store.
What to store
Dried mushrooms are ideal to store and use when the mushroom picking season is over. This method allows you to preserve the precious aroma without having to deal with the excess water. When cooking dried mushrooms, it is best to combine them with fresh mushrooms to bring back the original flavor.
Where to eat them
Nicole Restaurant’s chef Aylin Yazıcıoğlu makes delicious porcini ice cream using powder made from dehydrated mushroom caps. During peak mushroom season, Italian restaurants in Istanbul, such as Antica Locanda and La Scarpetta, also feature dishes with fine mushroom accents.