Boletes, they’re a quandry to identify.
Take the above picture for example. 4 mushrooms, picked in four different areas. They look at first glance like they could be the same type, but they’re not. The small mushrooms on the left have been cut, and they bruise black-blue. The mushroom above it was cut and it didn’t bruise at all.
From my experience, the word bi-color bolete is pretty much a dumping ground for species. On hunting trips I’ve gathered a number of mushrooms like this from places, thinking they were the same thing, only to see that some might stain blue faster than the others, have more red on their stems than yellow, have a slightly different shade to their cap, etc.
This isn’t supposed to be a scientific guide, but I would say you could describe most bi-color boletes like so:
- It has a brown to tan cap when old, and a lighter red hue when young.
- The mushroom’s flesh is bright to intensely vibrant yellow
- The mushroom’s pores and flesh bruise blue or, and may turn blue to blue black when cut, with varying degrees of speed and evenness.
- The bi-color boletes I have picked in the Midwest are common around oak
I had one of my most memorable hunts picking these, all by myself one day.
It was early in the morning, and I was in a section of woods with many oaks. I was looking for Chanterelles, probably around the middle of their season in July. On a complete hunch, I wandered into a little patch of woods where I could see sun shining through the canopy.
In the dappled light, I saw little pink mushrooms. Many, many, mushrooms. I knew they were boletes, but not much more than that. The pores on them were a vibrant, shining yellow. I had come at the perfect time too, they were very small, none of them were mature, or bug damaged. I was pretty excited, I hadn’t ever really found young boletes that I could eat fresh, most of my scores had been older, bug damaged ones that had to be dried.
Eventually I came to a hill by a small lake, There were three massive white oak trees just over the ridge. Climbing over the ridge I was dumbstruck. There were three huge, old oaks, and around all of them was the biggest fairy ring of wild mushrooms I had ever seen. It was the largest fruiting of Boletes I had ever seen, a giant circle around the oaks, and around the boletes were golden chanterelles, and then, on the outskirts of those were even a couple Porcini! It remains one of my favorite hunts.
So. Some mushroom hunters I know don’t eat blue staining boletes of any type, some mushroom hunters I know eat all the blue staining boletes they find. If you find some and you want to eat them, use caution. Since there might be a couple different species in your batch, eat only small amounts to gauge if you have a reaction to them or not. If nothing happens, great, go on and eat some more, making sure if you eat them fresh you cook them completely through. Remember though, if you find different blue staining boletes from a different area, repeat only eating a small amount to make sure there are no problems. I’ve never had problems eating these fresh or dried, but I am cautious about over-consumption.
If you find some you like that don’t give you any sort of reaction, I occasionally cook them fresh if they’re young and not bug-ridden. Caramelizing them on high heat in a saute pan will deepen their flavor like most mushrooms.
Again, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you most of the time I find fresh boletes like these I dry them, since drying makes things more edible, deepens the flavor of mushrooms, and extends their shelf life.
Boletes as a rule, are great dried. Drying concentrates their flavor, and can improve the texture of some, especially slippery jacks.
Drying also has a neat property of making some mushrooms more digestable as I mentioned before. Some leccinum species or slippery jacks, have given me severe gastric upset fresh if they’re under-cooked. But, if the mushrooms are dried beforehand, then reconstituted and cooked, I have never had a problem eating any of the aforementioned species.
Here’s some recipes I like to use with boletes, either dried or fresh.
- Wild Mushroom Conserve
- Wild Mushroom Duxelles
- Dried Wild Mushroom Duxelles
- Fresh Bolete Butter
- Fresh Bolete Mushrooms With Radish Snaps and Peas
- Fresh Bolete Julienne
- Baby Chicken With Bolete-Wine Sauce
- Mixed Wild Mushrooms With Persillade
- Cream of Porcini Soup With Black Walnut Pesto
- Shrimp With Porcini Infused Soy-Brandy Cream
- Dried Porcini Infused Soy Sauce
- Porcini-Pike Bolognese
- Porcini Crusted Pheasant
- Shortribs With Dried Boletes and Root Vegetables
- Beef Commercial With Dried Boletes
- Dried Bolete-Cheese Fritters
- Homemade Ricotta Cheese With Dried Boletes
- Dried Bolete Gnudi Dumplings
- Boletes Cooked In Sour Cream