Rain. What a tangle, huh? You love it, you pray for it, you sometimes do an Indian rain dance, hoping to shake it out of the anvils. We have had an amazingly rainy Spring and early Summer! Here we are at the Summer Solstice, the near full moon, and the rain has coaxed-out beautiful, brown boletes. Tricky, in Eastern Georgia. Lots of non-edibles. Lots of bitter boletes, on the average. But there is an occasional beauty, standing in the woods on a leafy bed under a canopy of old-growth oak or hemlock. If everything comes together, this beauty may have a sublime likeness to porcini,may be a butter bolete cousin or a prime suillus.
If you find-the-one, what do you do? Admire. Turn over. Look for bug holes and tracks. Many boletes have been the early delicacy of tiny little insects. The key to no-bugs is early retrieval. There are many good books, guides and online resources on the subject. Nothing beats foraging with an accomplished guide. Many mushrooms, including a number of the boletes are not edible.
What do I do when I find that supreme ONE, that quality beauty? Take it home!
Quickly brush off debris, peel the spongy pore layer away from the underside, ever-so-quickly rinse under the sink sprayer and pat dry. With some edible species, like chanterelles, very, very little water is better. (More on that if we get lucky enough to harvest chanterelles this Summer!)
A dry saute utilizes low, stovetop heat. Boletes are sliced across the cap like ordinary agaric mushrooms from the store. Lay slices flat and separated in a non-stick saute pan. No OIL needed! Watch and turn, watch and turn with your spatula until moisture droplets have dissipated from your slices. This only takes two or three minutes. Then, kill the heat!
A toasty brown finish is achieved this way. Oil should be added later, if desired in a specific dish. This procedure nets a concentration of earthy flavor and a non-sticky mushroom slice to add to your favorite mushroom concoctions. Your mushrooms may be stored in a glass jar, carefully sealed, in the freezer for up to 6 months.
What can I say? My beautiful daughters and I have on more than one occasion been identified as, The Mushroom Ladies. There is a slight tendency to, well, GO WILD!