Mushroom Hunting Bay & King Bolete – Porcini Mushrooms

Mushroom Hunting at 6 am on a damp often frosty, autumnal morning is probably the last thing on your mind on an early November morning transport yourself to Eastern Europe. Where you will find that this is not only a popular activity but also a way of life! Hunting for King Bolete mushrooms is an essential part of living for many families, serving and little more than basic rations and struggling to heat their poorly insulated homes during long harsh winters.

Besides that Mushroom hunting is great fun for people of all ages and one of my favourite activities on a late Autumn morning and something I can get do anywhere in the World. Locating mushrooms to search for is a little more tricky and you do need some knowledge of availability and varieties that grow locally.

Fortunately Mushroom hunting is a well research pastime and you can downloaded the latest app or buy the latest book online to provide you with all the pictorial guides you will need to help with identification.

Once you start you will find that mushroom hunting is very addictive and as such you should plan to make several outings during the season to find your favourite boletes mushroom spot.King Bolete Mushrooms

Bolete’s edulis or King boletes are known as the best mushrooms in the World and although choice once you learn how to late a perfect growing spot, finding them is not so difficult. There are however a large number of bolete’s that are choice edibles and you will have no problem collecting several varieties of Boletes that are extremely popular in many dishes throughout Europe.

Bay bolete (Bolete badius) is quite common and often found when hunting for King Boletes, Still a magnificent Mushroom the Bay Bolete is a chocolate-brown colour with a spongy underside that is often dried and stored for future use. Like the superior Boletus edulis these mushrooms have an even deeper flavour on rehydrated, giving a rich woody flavour to any dish, perfect mushroom base for gravy, broths or stews.

Do not pick Mushrooms unless you are a professional foragers and 100% sure of the identity.

Many European families will set out early in the morning around dawn to begin their hunt for Bay boletes which are widely consumed all over Europe and can be found growing in coniferous or mixed deciduous forests emerging in large numbers usually three or four days after heavy rain.
Basket Bolete Mushrooms
Baskets of King and Bay bolete mushrooms like these are a common site at markets and road side stalls throughout Poland, often accompanied by home cured meats and homemade preserves. These roadside stalls are often supervised by an elderly Polish women who also takes responsibility for their neighbours stall and eagerly hobbles over to customers wishing to make a purchase, that’s if the net curtain twitching “Babcia” (Polish Grandmother) does not beat her to it.

After two years of attempting to find mushrooms hotspots by myself I was finally lucky enough to have been invited to participate in a family mushroom hunting trip. I was overjoyed at my chance to find out how the professional do it and have an expert identify my mushrooms.

There is something very rewarding about hunting for mushrooms, in fact I cannot wait to see what this year has in store. Often following a two-year cycle with one year having an abundance of mushrooms and the next year very few. that said Weather plays a critical role and a late winter or a dry summer can dramatically affect the mushroom availability for years to come.

Drying Mushrooms including Bolete’s and Parasol caps is an ancient and practical way of preserving mushrooms for use in the winter months. Often hung from strings in a dry, dark well aired position will allow the Mushrooms to dry throughly and retain the deep earthy/nutty flavour and scent that is often associated with the species.

Look how the Mushrooms dry and change colour! These are lovingly collected and cleaned before threading the mushrooms on to a string of approx 20/25 caps and then hung often from the ceiling of a traditional Eastern European kitchen. Bolete Mushroom strings are prized throughout Europe but beware during festivities and celebrations the prices tend to soar.

Living in Polish community in Philadelphia there are some traditions that follow the Polish way of life and cuisine if you would like to try making a few mushroom recipes for yourself then be-sure to subscribe our email alerts.

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Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural consultant




“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.



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About Head Gardener 291 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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