King Bolete, Porcini, Cep, Steinpilz … no matter what language you speak, Boletus edulis is one of the world’s most prized mushrooms.
It’s usually hard to get boletes before Thanksgiving around here but, thanks to the heavy rain in mid-October, we’ve had a nice crop working for several weeks now. The average size is definitely smaller than in a good, let alone a “bonanza” year, but there are plenty of them and we’ve been having no trouble getting all we can handle.
We went out again this morning and took the camera along …
It takes a practiced eye to see that something beneath the duff is pushing upward here … but we bet we know what it is.
Sure enough! A fresh, young Boletus edulis. It’s good now, but it will be much bigger and better given another day or two to grow and mature.
We craftily cover our find, building up the depth of the duff for several feet around to give it room to grow without becoming too obvious. After all, there’re plenty of other people searching these woods for boletes.
The day’s first keepers. They may not be large, but you don’t complain about Grade A, 100% worm-free boletes. Now it’s time to go check on some bolete buttons we found, and concealed, a couple of days ago.
We’re liking what we’re seeing. We found a bolete button no bigger than a marble here and buried it under these handy green pine boughs. Now the mushroom appears to be pushing them aside.
Yes!!! We were happy here, but when we went to check on our next button, we found that someone had discovered and harvested it. You win some, you lose some.
Now here’s something interesting. An large fairy circle of Amanita calyptroderma – a mushroom highly prized by Italians, who know it as Coccora. You can get an idea of the size of this circle by the gentle arc visible here. This circle was nearly complete and contained many dozens of Coccoras. A real bonanza for a Coccora aficionado.
Caution: Coccora’s are closely related to a number of deadly poisonous species. Do not eat them. In fact, do not eat any wild mushroom unless you not only know what it is, but also know what dangerous mushrooms most closely resemble it, and know how to tell them apart. In fact, do not eat any wild plants, berries or mushrooms, ever, under any circumstances. What do you think the store is for?
Well how do you like that? Two minutes after finding that someone had discovered and picked a mushroom we’d carefully hidden out in the brush, we stumble across a large, mature bolete growing only a foot from a trail heavily used by mushroom hunters. It was big enough and mature enough that it must have been in plain sight for days – yet it was still worm-free and in perfect condition. Go figure.
The flavor of Boletus edulis is the concentrated essence of the pine forest. Here’s a sight to warm the heart of any bolete hunter.
Most boletes are short and fat, but here’s a pair that are tall and thin.
Now we’re talking!
Pure, Grade A goodness!
Yet, in spite of all the mushroom mania, the majority of boletes, like this one, are over the hill before anyone notices them.
Another one too far gone to eat.
Eventually, an unpicked bolete becomes a “bolete puddle.” As the season wears on, these become a common sight in the woods.
What the?? We may not be taking them home to eat but, to a confirmed fungophile, these bolete-shaped purple mushrooms are definitely the find of the day. They appear to be the rare Cortinarius violaceus – a mushroom we’ve never even seen before. How cool is that?
Under an immense stand of old growth manzanita, we find boletes scattered like easter eggs. Some disparage long unburned chaparral like this as “decadent” and “unnatural.” The boletes, which always prefer the deepest and least disturbed parts of the forest, disagree.
The one in the middle reveals why the Italians call these mushrooms Porcini – the “Little Pig.”
Excellent! A couple more…
But no … in spite of their nice brown caps – which are usually redder in this species – these are Russula rosacea. That’s OK, we’ve already got all the boletes we can use.
Back home, the boletes await processing.
A dandy …
Some, we’ll eat right away.
Some we’ll package up for friends …
And the rest go into the dehydrator so we can eat boletes year round.
For more, see our newer post, Boletus Rising.
Please Note: This post is intended for entertainment purposes only. Only a suicidal maniac would ever consider eating wild mushrooms – which are uniformly deadly poisonous. The ones growing in our favorite patches are especially lethal. You have been warned!