King Bolete

The amazing King Bolete.

King Boletes Photo by

King Boletes
Photo by

Of all the mushrooms out there, I believe , the King Bolete is the unchallenged champion. People don't call it king for nothing!

It is the classic mushroom that appears in all the children's books, depicting woods with Bambies, hedgehogs and little bunnies – it and the Fly Amanita. (that's the one with the red cap and white dots and is poisonous)

Fly Aminita

Fly Amanita

The King Bolete is also called Penny Bun, Porcini or Steinpilz. They are the biggest mushroom you will find in the woods. The cap can grow to 30 inches in diameter is reddish brown on top and has tubes, rather than gills, underneath. These tubes hold the spores, which escape through the tubes or pores at maturity. The pore surface is white on the young mushrooms and turn a greenish yellow later on.

The stems grow to 4 inch thick and 10 inch tall. They are white at the bottom and tan on top with a lacy network of white veins. Their flesh does not discolor when cut and they smell and taste great, even raw.

The king bolete is the easiest mushroom to recognize. Should you, however, find one that has the shape of the king, but has a red stem or underside of the cap and turns blue when bruised or cut, throw it away. This is a Satan Boletus or Devil's Mushroom. I use to find them in Germany but have never seen one in BC. They only seem to grow in more southern latitudes.

Where to find the King?

The best place to find the Penny Bun is in the mountains at altitudes above 2500 feet, together with the heather meadows and the bill berries. They grow in the first growth forests under Douglas firs, mountain hemlock and spruce. I have found them at lower elevations in pine woods but only if the growing conditions were perfect.

Picking king boletes is very rewarding, since they are so big. You find a few and you have a meal. They can weigh up to 6 lbs. Should you find too many, no problem. They are very easy to preserve.

What to do with them.

You can freeze them. After cleaning, just cut them into ¼ inch slices, put them into zip lock bags, stuff them into the freezer and they are good up to 6 months. If you have some older specimens with greenish looking, spongy pores, remove these, they peel off easily.

To dry them , trim the stems, wipe them clean with a dry cloth – do not wash them, they absorb too much water – then cut them into ½ inch thick slices and put them in the oven at 75 to 85 degrees F for 2 to 3 hours. We use a cheap commercial dehydrator and it does a great job.

To reconstitute them after drying, soak them in hot - not boiling - water for 15 minutes. Take them out. Save the water and use it in whatever you are cooking. It has a great aroma.

King boletes have fabulous, mushroomy taste, even just sauteed in oil or butter on toast or in soups, omelets or as filled mushrooms caps. They make mouthwatering sauces for all kinds of meat and pasta.

Here is one, I really like:

Spaghetti sauce with mushrooms.


  • I lb of fresh King boletes, minced
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 2 Italian sausages, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • Chopped fresh or dried rosemary, sage, oregano or basil to taste
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine


  • Saute the beef and sausage until they are brown.
  • Add the onion, garlic, parsley, mushrooms and herbs.
  • Mix the tomato paste with the wine.
  • Add to the gravy, together with the tomato sauce.
  • Simmer until thick, about 30 to 45 minutes.

            --Kitchen Magic with Mushrooms

Now that I have looked, I found some very interesting recipes for king boletes on the internet, that I need to try. This is all very exiting!

Whether you have a life mushroom mentor or not, you will need a guide book to help you with this. Get one at the store - here.


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