By Rich Leon
The King Bolete mushroom has a large following in many parts of the world and goes by many different names. Boletus edulis is referred to as Cep in France, Pennybun in England, and Stenpilz in Germany. In the U.S., it’s known as the King Bolete or Porcini.
If you were to make a list of the world’s most prized mushrooms, the King Bolete would be right up there at the top along with Morels and Chanterelles. The King Bolete is the most sought-after mushroom in many parts of the world by many different people.
Nowhere is that more evident then the countries of Europe. After the summer and fall rains, people take to the forests in droves in the hope to fill their baskets with these prized mushrooms. The King Bolete can be found locally in the Colville National Forest, Mount Spokane State Park, and the mountains of North Idaho.
There is no one time in the fall that is best to find King Boletes. A lot depends on when we get our fall rains in the Inland Northwest. I have found them as early as September and as late as November, and it can vary widely from year to year.
As far as where to look, Kings favor conifers (pine, spruce, hemlock and fir) but also grow with hardwoods such as oak and birch.
The Bolete mushroom family contains many other fine edibles besides the King Bolete, but there are also a few that are poisonous. The best ones to avoid are the ones with red pores that stain blue when cut.
Experienced mushroom hunters may try a small quantity the first time to see how their system reacts after identifying an edible bolete.
If after a full day of mushroom hunting you are lucky enough to bring home a basket of Kings, then you need to decide what to do with them. Fix them fresh or dry them to be used at a later date.
If you are going to fix your prized mushrooms fresh, you need to be aware that bugs are also fond of them. They tend to start at the base and eat their way up the stem and into the cap. I have a friend that says he doesn’t mind a few bugs; it just adds a little extra protein to the meal. I don’t think I will be joining him for a meal any time soon.
If you choose to dry your mushrooms, you can use a dehydrator or put them on screens in a warm, dry room. Do not use an oven, because they can become too hot and a lot of flavor can be lost.
When dry, store them in glass jars and they will last for several years. You can rehydrate the mushrooms by placing them in a bowl of warm water. Save the water as it makes a flavorful stock.
In case you are wondering, the King does have a Queen. You won’t find her in our local woods though. You will probably have to go to Northern California where she is off visiting other Boletes. Some say the Queen has a better flavor then the King. That is if you are able to find her.