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September's Wild Food of the Month

Porcini or Cep

The king of edible fungi

porchini-s.jpg (79645 bytes)The King Bolete (Boletus edulis) has a variety of common names because it has become so beloved around the world for it's firm texture and distinctive flavor.
It is known as the Cep in France and Porcini in Italy, but here in the states it is simply known as the king... Bolete that is.
Boletus edulis is found on the ground singly or in troops in late summer and early fall.

The cap color is variable from a deep redish brown to a very light tan with yellowish tints. The cap is dome shaped, similar to a hamburger bun and can grow to ten inches across. It is smooth but not slimy. The flesh of both the cap and stem is white and mild tasting, and yes it's okay to take a small sample and spit it out. If it tastes bitter, it's not a Cep.
Boletes have a sponge-like pore surface rather than gills on the underside of the cap. The pore surface is white when immature and turns yellow to yellow-brown as the spores ripen. The pore surface can turn slowly brownish-olive when rubbed or scratched but will not turn blue or bruise quickly. Quick bruising to blue indicates that you have found something other than Boletus edulis.
porchini-big-s.jpg (35407 bytes)The stalk on B. edulis is thick, white to yellowish and sometimes bulbous towards the bottom. Netlike ridges called reticulation should be present on the upper part if not all of the stem. The reticulation is usually slightly browner than the stem surface.
Spore color is olive-brown.
You will find Cep recipes in French and Italian cookbooks and dried porcini is becoming more and more common in grocery stores throughout the country.

As always if you aren't sure about what you've found, consult a field guide or a trusted expert. Bottom line as always: when in doubt throw it out!

-Roy Reehil, Happy Hunting!

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