Boletus mushroom: the king of the forest

Photo by Annelies Brouw from Pexels, edited in Photoshop

Summer is one of the best seasons in Ukraine, not only because of vacations. For mushroom gathering enthusiasts, it’s time to start their hunting.

Spring 2021 has kept low temperatures for a long time. Finally, at the end of the season, sunny days came, and the weather warmed up. At the end of May, the first mushrooms appear in the woods.

For mushroom lovers, it’s time to leave the city and go on a weekend, not for a barbecue, but to hunt for edible fruit bodies of fungi.

Ukraine, like many central and eastern European countries, has strong local mushroom harvesting traditions. Mushroom picking and selling is a popular additional source of income in western Ukraine. It is the inhabitants of Transcarpathia with its mountain forests that export the most of wild fungi. 

Gourmets in most countries of the world consider the king of all fungi truffles for their unique taste. Unfortunately, the price for the product bites, and it is tough to find it in the wild nature without special experience.

However, Ukrainians have long determined another leader in the forest kingdom.

The honourable first place of the most delicious mushroom in Ukraine for centuries belong to Boletus edulis, locally known as білий гриб (in translation “white mushroom”). It is considered a royal delicacy among other fungi.

However, in the world, its other names are popular. Probably everyone heard such terms as porcini, cep, steinpilz or penny bun once in life.

The fungus grows in the moderate climate all around Europe and North America. It usually hard to cultivate. The best places to find it and other boletes are vast forests with many leaves fallen on the ground and enough humidity. oak, pine, spruce, hemlock and fir. Mushroom’s fruit body consists of a cap of different shades of brown and white stem. The cap is white or yellow in the bottom, similar to the bun, from where its English name comes. Time for harvesting varies for any particular kind of species, from late Spring to early Autumn.

Recipe photo from Vkusno.com.ua

Like other Boletus mushrooms, cep is an excellent ingredient for dishes of various cuisines. White mushrooms can be fried, stewed and marinated. Boletus edulis is eaten even fresh, adding to salads. Dried mushrooms will give a unique taste to the soup, better than the fresh ones. Mushrooms stewed with potatoes in sour cream is a traditional dish of Ukrainian cuisine.

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