Monday, September 24, 2007

Eating Wild Mushrooms

A comment was recently made requesting information about preparing Boletes and it made me realize that I should say a little more about the subject of eating Boletes and other wild mushrooms in general. I cannot stress enough the importance of being 100% certain of your identification before eating any mushroom. And even when certain, when trying a mushroom for the first time, I recommend only eating a very small portion at first to see if you have any allergies or adverse reactions. Even some common edibles (morels included) have been known to adversely effect some people.

I personally have little experience in identifying Boletes, so I do not trust myself well enough to eat any of them. Since I do not eat them, I am sorry but I do not know a very good way to prepare them. There are a few recipes on The Morel Board (free registration required) at

Dr. Kuo, the person who runs use to contain a good general list of rules for eating boletes; though now he has this in its place: (which highlights how easy misidentification can be).

I managed to archive a copy of his rules and have listed them below.

Edibility Rules for Boletes

by Michael Kuo

(The rules for eating boletes will only help you if you're sure you know what a "bolete" is; please study the keys and their accompanying texts, especially the Key to Boletes, if you are unsure. Please also read our Disclaimer.)

The boletes form a relatively safe (and decidedly tasty!) group of mushrooms, as far as edibility is concerned. However, some poisonous species exist, and a few fatalities resulting from boletes are on record. The rules below reflect what is currently known about boletes--but there is, of course, always the possibility that you may find a mushroom that is uncharacteristic or simply unknown. Always experiment with new species by eating only a bite or two the first time, and waiting 48 hours before continuing!

If you have some experience with boletes, you will notice that the rules wind up excluding some good edibles (Boletus bicolor, for example). But they will also exclude all the boletes known to be poisonous--and by the time a mushroom collector can distinguish Boletus bicolor from the poisonous Boletus miniato-olivaceus, she will be identifying mushrooms to species with enough confidence to consult edibility reports for individual mushrooms.

1. Eat Only Fresh, Young Specimens

There are two reasons for this. First, you will eliminate the possibility of simple food poisoning resulting from the consumption of rotting food (and you will avoid eating some nasty critters that tend to inhabit older specimens). Second, this will force you to consider only specimens whose macrofeatures are still easily recognizable. Pore surfaces of some boletes can eventually become brownish or blackish, regardless of the colors they manifested their prime--and bruising or staining reactions are no longer trustworthy with old mushrooms.

2. Avoid Boletes with Red or Orange Pore Surfaces

The currently documented most-poisonous boletes, like Boletus satanas, have red or orange pore surfaces, like the mushroom in the illustration (see the top arrow). Do not eat any bolete whose pore surface is red or orange, or some version of these colors.

3. Avoid Boletes That Stain or Bruise Blue to Green

Admittedly, this rule eliminates nearly half of all boletes. But it also eliminates all the boletes, besides the red- and orange-pored species, known to be poisonous, or for which edibility is suspect--particularly those in the Fraterni constellation. In the illustration, the bottom arrow indicates the flesh of a bolete turning blue on exposure to air. Also check for blue bruising by teasing the cap, stem, and (especially) the pore surface with the flat side of a knife.

4. Avoid Orange-Capped Leccinum Species

Leccinum includes some very good edibles, but the record is becoming more and more clear: some people are adversely affected by some of the orange-capped species. Marilyn Shaw has documented this in Colorado (see Bessette, 2000, 374), and some field guides will mention the possibility. I know from personal experience; I am one of the "some people" adversely affected--and I can tell you that the poisoning is not at all how you want to spend one or two days of your life!

There are many Leccinum mushrooms with orange caps. But since Leccinum species are notoriously difficult to separate, even for experts, you should avoid any orange-capped species. If you are not sure you can distinguish Leccinum species from other boletes, you should change this rule and not eat any boletes with orange or orangeish caps.

© 2000-2005, MushroomExpert.Com


Liz said...

Hi Stan,
I'm interested in learning how prevalent mushroom hunting is in Missouri. If you could contact me, that'd be great!

Jacob said...

I just discovered this blog today and enjoyed reading your posts. My wife and I live in Jeff City and also enjoy hunting a variety of edible mushrooms--morels, chanterelles and sulfer shelves--in this area.
We'll look forward to reading about more of your mushroom-hunting adventures.

ahistory said...

Welcome Jacob, always glad to meet hunters in Mid-MO. Feel free to post a comment or two describing some of your own mushroom hunting adventures. I always love to hear a fellow hunters tale.

geggory miller said...

i was wondering if any of you fellow hunters have found the one looks like a light tan star with folded under with acorn in middle is quite beuitiful speciman i was reading about them are said to be very rara and a delicusly i out huntind chants got like 5pounds when i seen it at a base of a tree was a bit hard to see but once i seen it was unmistakable what i was reading about oh i reside in ozark mountians southen mo

ahistory said...

That sounds like an earth star. Check out
and see if that looks similar. I see them occasionally. They are a nice looking mushroom.

raisingirl101 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

just found a huge mushroom not sure what kind

Anonymous said...

If you copy a text that refers to an illustration, make sure you attach the illustration, otherwise your text is useless.

Cindy Dy said...

Excellent and decent post. I found this much informative, as to what I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and keep it up.