Vegan | Gluten-Free | OMS-Friendly
This mushroom is the mainstay of Western cooking because it’s just so mushroomy. It adds a definite mushroom flavour to dishes, and even dried varieties maintain and intensify the flavours.
Meaty, deep, earthy, woodsy.
Choosing and storing fresh boletes
Big and small boletes are good to eat, but remember mushrooms don’t last that long in storage no matter their size. Buy freshest boletes only, choosing caps that haven’t been nibbled on by creatures, preferring younger, smaller caps. Make sure the species is correct before buying.
Buying, storing and using dried boletes
Commercial boletes are often hot air dried, which is fast and can change the colours and aromas. Darker boletes are usually dried the old fashioned way, with lighter colours indicating hot-air drying. Dried boletes keep for months in an airtight glass jar in the freezer – this is to keep insect problems to a minimum (they die in the freezer). Don’t run water over them unless they are very dirty. Pour boiling water over them to let them soak for at least half an hour. Drain to remove grit.
Stems can be stringy, so cut them off and save them in the freezer for a future stock.
Preparing fresh boletes
Remove slugs and dirt, and cut off the dirt-encrusted part of the stem. Put in a paper bag in the fridge to allow the moisture to evaporate, instead of causing rot. Before cooking or using, remove all the dirt with a brush, paper towel or damp cloth, only rinsing if they are really dirty. Mushrooms absorb water, so running them under water dilutes flavours and can cause issues with sauteing.
Dry thinly-sliced boletus in an electric dehydrator to keep, or dry in the sun.
- Steaming whole inside tight paper or foil with salt (for a soft texture)
- Saute in oil for firmness and heightened flavour, with salt and pepper
- Grilling over coals is firm and delicious
- Stuffed with breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, raw egg and anything else you deem delicious
Foods boletes are complementary with
Wine is best white, and free of oak (like a Chardonnay) or with reds, a Burgundy.
Identification and growing boletes
Thick, wide, fawn-coloured caps with meaty white stems, can reach up to eight inches wide at the caps, with the stems having irregular vertical lines. Usually appear after rain in autumn, but can appear in spring or summer. The underside has pores, tiny tubes, which feel spongy, with a firm cap. There are over 300 varieties of the Boletus species, but most don’t have good eating flavours.
Boletes grow on the roots of certain trees, with different tree-mushrooms producing superior flavours. Their root networks are vast underground, but we eat the fruiting bodies. These fungi live symbiotic lives with the trees, with the roots of the mushrooms providing nutrients to the tree.
Some boletes are poisonous, and some go blue if you bruise them, but the B. satanus with red pores and stem can make you quite sick.
Most mushrooms are better and more digestible cooked, but you can use boletes raw in salads.
Best, most flavourful species
- B. reticulatus (formerly aestivalis, in Italian, porcino estivo)
- B. pinophilus (porcino rosso)
- B. edulis (porcino)
- B. aereus (porcino nero)
- B. rex-veris (same as pinophilus)
- Boletus barrowsii
- Boletus edulis var. grandedulis
- B. appendiculatus
- B. regineus (same as B. aereus)