The Aspen Bolete has a few common names , including the Aspen Scaber stalk, and the Aspen Bolete. In the world of science, we call this mushroom LECCINUM INSIGNE. This is an amazing mushroom that is very plentiful in the Alberta forests from mid June through to fall. As the name suggests, they are mostly found nearby and underneath Aspen forests. I have been finding these beauties directly under the foliage in multiple aspen forests around my area, but keep in mind they may also be found near birch trees!
My obsession with this mushroom began when I found my first one. I had no idea about these mushrooms before, as i have never seen them in my life. Until one day out with my kids, we came across a giant spread of them. They were scattered all over the spot were I like to go for peace and foraging. I have heard from others that this particular year they are growing rampant all over the province. I took a few home, and spent an entire week identifying, observing and analyzing them, while doing my due diligence online. I found out that these are very yummy when cooked a certain way. This made my curiosity flourish even more, and my kids too. We took special trip out to the spot to search for more. and we sure did find many many more!
These mushrooms do not have much of a taste, and can get quite infested with worms if you pick them too late in their growth cycle, so you do have to be careful which ones to bring home. The young ones are the best ones to gather for this reason. Another thing to be weary of when picking these mushrooms for consumption, is that they can cause some gastro distress in some people, so cooking very thoroughly is very important, as well as eating only a small amount at first and waiting to see how it effects your stomach. I followed these instructions when I ate my first batch, and had zero issues at all !
As mentioned before , this mushroom, and many other species of Leccinum can be quite infested as they age. There is a way to be able to cut around some of the infestation, as you can clearly see were the worms dig and nest, but that all depends on your own personal level of yuck. For me, I can stomach a few worm holes, but i cannot knowingly eat a piece i can clearly see the worms. For this reason, I will cut out the good parts or only pick the ones that have little to no infestation, or to be extra safe, only pick the youngest mushrooms.
In the photo above you can clearly see the trails that the wormys leave behind. They start from the ground and work their way up the stem and into the cap, were they tunnel deep into the spore producing tubes. As you can see in this particular specimen, there is no way to even cut around the insects. Some might not care, a little extra protein right? But thanks, certainly not for me. You may get lucky and find some huge older boletes, with little to no infestation, but for the most part, the bigger and older they are, the more likely a waste of time it will be to harvest them and bring them home. Better left behind in the woods to help spread spores for the next generations to come.
The photo above is a very young Aspen Bolete. They are small, so you would have to find many of them to make a decent meal, but if you cut right down the middle you will see delicious white mushroom meat! These are the best to gather. The photo below shows a young bolete that has very little infestation. You can easily cut around the wormholes as there is still lots of white mushroom meat to eat.
So now you know a few things about the Aspen Bolete, lets talk a little bit about how to identify these beauties! Lets first start with the color. The cap of the mushroom usually comes in varying colors of orangy brown. The cap is convex with a rim of tissue around the edge. Surface of the cap is smooth and velvety. Older ones tend to crack a little bit like mud, and I have found that they feel gross and gooey when they are starting to decay. The flesh within the cap is white, and when you cut the cap in calf the white flesh turns from white, to purplish grey to black.
The underside of the cap looks like what resembles a sponge. The sponge is made up of the tiny pores which is the opening of the tube layer, the spore bearing tissue. When making a spore sprint, the sport deposit will be a dark yellow brown to olive brown.
The stem is solid, NOt hollow, and is often swollen at the base. The stem is white with small scales, known as "scabers". These scabers are lightly colored when young and become black as they age. The presence of scabers is a characteristic of the leccinum species. When bruised, the stem will turn a blueish color, and the stem itself is tough, and fibrous. There is no presence of a veil or skirt on this species.
There are many orangy capped leccinum mushrooms, and lucky for beginner mushroom hunters, none of which are poisons. The known mushroom look a likes to this one are as follows : leccinum urantiacum, and leccinum ponderosum.
So now that we have figured out how to find these wonderful mushrooms and where to find these mushrooms, lets talk about what to do with them one we harvest them!
When I go mushroom hunting, I LOVE to cook them right there out in the bush, however, I recommend that when you are learning about any new species of mushrooms, you harvest them, and bring them home to study them first. Once you have positively and confidently identified them, and confirmed with experts, then maybe one day you can cook them fresh right there in the woods the day you harvest them!
As I had mentioned before, aspen boletes have little to no taste, so I like to pick and pack a few extra things when I go out bolete hunting. Things such as , butter, garlic, chopped onions, cast iron frying pan. MMMM SO DELICIOUS.
On this particular day, my son and I found for the first time, a coral toothed fungus, Hericium coralloides. We also came across a patch of wild mint. I wasnt quite sure how that would taste with the mushrooms, but decided to throw it in anyways. We also added in a few leaves of stinging nettles.
Then we took the aspen boletes and chopped and prepped them, being careful to only use the young ones, and only parts that were clear and free of any bugs.
Once I have my mushrooms prepped and ready to cook, I always make a little fire, were permitted. I use the same spot everytime I go here, I dig a little hole in the ground, place some rocks in the pit to hold up my pan, and build it only as big as I need it. For this cooking session, I only needed enough fire and wood about 15 minutes of cooking. It was perfect !
Now my fire and my pan is ready to go, I like to add in my butters, and then throw in my mushrooms! Omg so yummy. Its best to cook slow and low, that way you don't burn your delicacy. Once your mushrooms are sizzling and frying in the butter, just keep stiring and turning them so they cook evenly. Its best to cook these mushrooms well done, to eliminate any tummy issues later on, however, I have not had anything like that as of yet and I have made quite a few batches of fried boletes in the bush and at home.
Eating wild mushrooms is really just that easy ! Of course, its easy once you are at a certain level of identifying them. I have been hunting wild mushrooms for 4 years now, but this year is the first that I have felt confident enough to eat what I find, aside from the bracket polypores, which I have way more experience identifying those, however most bracket polypores are not eaten this way, they are mostly made into tea and powders for medicine.
One thing that I find so fcinating about mushroom picking is the amount of joy i see in the kids eyes when they find a mushroom and run through the bush to tell me all about it! "mommy mommy, come see this mushroom we found!" Not only is that rewarding as all heck! but also just the pleasure of being able to find, gather and cook something that you found deep in the woods, it is so fullfilling. Of course this took me many years of hunting, discovering, analyzing and identifying and researching mushrooms before I even got the the point were I feel confident enough to go and eat some that I find. For those who are beginners, you certainly do not need to take as many years as I did, but you do need to make sure you get all the facts, leanr to identify properly, join mushroom groups on facebook for your area, and purchase some really good wild edible mushroom books for your region. I choose ones that were specific to Alberta, just so that I can learn the ones closest to me for now.
I really do hope that you live my quick beginners guide to finding and identifying and harvesting the Aspen Bolete! If you really love to read my blogs, please subscribe to my website to keep updated for new blogs and posts, and hit the like button on my facebook page please! Any support is super appreciated and helps my little small family business grow! If thee is a particular mushroom you would like for me to write about then please let me know on my contact form and I will considering doing a tutorial about it. Everything I do, comes from my family to yours!
The information that i have provided is intended for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. I highly recommend that anybody who intends to hunt , harvest or forage for mushrooms and polypores seek a credible and reliable professional. None of the above information , or any information on our website is intended to treat, diagnose or cure in any way shape or form any disease or illness. We do not endorse the practice of self diagnosing or self treatment of any illness, therefore we highly recommend that you seek the professional advise of your trusted healthcare doctor before taking any herbs and supplements. All of our bodies are different, we all have different metabolisms and some people may react very differently then others when using any kind of natural remedy. Also be aware of any allergies that you may have before consuming plants and botanicals. As mentioned before, the information provided on this website is for education only. Please take control of your own lives and do your own thorough research!