Versatile, sticky, large sized bolete mushrooms are one of the chef's favorite mushrooms. These well-known mushroom fruit bodies found ubiquitously in the temperate, highland forests of USA, Europe, Siberia and China.
Botanically, they belong to the family: Boletaceae, and the genus: Boletus.
Scientific name: Boletus edulis.
Photo courtesy: Charles de Mille-Isles.
In United Kingdom, they are often recognized as "penny bun" for their light-brown, large, spongy cap, which appears like a bun from a distance. Porcini is the popular Italian name for bolete.
Bolete mushrooms are also called "cep" in the UK and France. They normally appear in groups, especially in the temperate zone coniferous (spruce species) forest where they grow symbiotically (ectomycorrhizal fungi). New fruit bodies are harvested in the late summer and autumn.
Bolete is recognized by its large, smooth, glossy cap with a white rim. The underside of their cap is covered with vertical tubes resembling pores rather than gills. Its club-shaped, broad-based stalk is white, woody, and firmly attached to the cap.
Several sub-species of bolete mushrooms found ubiquitously in the dense forests of the Northern Hemisphere. Boletus reticulates, also known as "summer cep" grows under deciduous, oak (Quercus) trees. It is distinguished from B. edulis by its large, dark chocolate, reticulate (hence the name) cap, and absence of a white margin.
Boletus pinophilus (pine bolete or pine cep) grows mainly under pine, fir or spruce trees. They feature large, dry, reddish-brown caps measuring 4-10 cm tall by 3-8 cm wide.
B. edulis is low in clories. Nonetheless, this flavorful forest forage carries several phyto-nutrients, natural antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
Porcini (bolete) mushrooms are also a rich in dietary fiber and are low in both saturated and unsaturated fat. Dietary fiber helps stimulate digestion, and relieving constipation problems.
Bolete mushrooms contain good amounts of easily digestible natural proteins.
Additionally, B. edulis carry several natural antioxidants such as vitamin C, ergothinene, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds.
Boletus mushrooms are excellent sources of minerals such as selenium, manganese, zinc, copper, iodine, and molybdenum.
Furthermore, mushrooms are modest sources of vitamin-D (ergo-calciferol). Vitamin-D plays a vital role in the calcium and phosphate metabolism.
They contain ample concentrations of B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, etc.
Fresh harvest bolete (porcini) can be available in the markets from June till November. Dried whole and slices in vacuum packs are kept for sale in many supermarkets can be readily available all around the year. Choose fresh, whole, soft, and young bolete mushrooms. Avoid very large since they passed their prime, hence out of flavor. Some species quickly turn blue if broken/cut. Also, stay away from moth-eaten, larvae stridden, slimy, and broken bolete.
Once at home, use them early. Place them in a cool dry place in a wooden basket away from sunlight and moisture. Keep in the fridge for a few days, in a paper bag or a dish covered with a clean cloth. Store dried boletus (porcini) in a container and place in cold, dry, and dehumidified places.
Eat bolete mushrooms as soon as possible after purchase to enjoy their unique, mushroomy flavor. Bolete mushrooms are usually clean except for the base of the stem, which often must be removed (too ripe or containing worms) or brushed. Remove the pore surface underneath the cap if it is slimy.
Bolete mushrooms are sometimes eaten raw, especially porcini mushrooms. However, cooking brings out their earthy flavor to the fore. They are employed in the same way as other mushrooms and can be substituted for other mushrooms.
Dried bolete should be soaked in water to revitalize them before adding to cooking. Soak in either hot or cold water for about 15-20 minutes until rehydrated. Do not discard the soaking liquid as it is very flavorful. So, use it to prepare stock, or add in soups, sauces, stews, and stir-fries.
Here are some serving tips:
Fresh bolete are delicious braised, sauteed, stir-fried, marinated or grilled.
Most French restaurants offer sauteed cepe in garlic oil or butter.
Finely sliced cep is delicious in soups, sauces, pasta dishes, rice, stews, and stir-fried dishes.
Large cep caps can be employed in the stuffing.
Fine slices can also be added in pizza, pasta, pastry, and potpie preparations.
Like other wild mushrooms, porcini also complement well with seafood, lamb, and poultry in a variety of mouth-watering recipes.
Allergic, intolerance reactions to porcini mushrooms are rare. Being large and brimming with conspicuous features, bolete is one of the easiest mushrooms to forage. Sometimes they are confused to devils' bolete (Rubroboletus satanas) by the beginners while hunting. R. satanas has a similar shape as bolete but can be easily distinguished by their red stem and blue stains at the break ends. (Medical disclaimer).
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