This section is from the book "Our Edible Toadstools and Mushrooms and How to Distinguish Them", by W. Hamilton Gibson. Also available from Amazon: Our Edible Toadstools And Mushrooms And How To Distinguish Them.
Pileus: Cushion-like; moist; variable in color, light brown to darker brownish red; surface smooth but dull; dimensions at full expansion, three to six or eight inches.
Tube surface (A - magnified): Whitish in very young specimens, at length becoming yellow and yellowish green. Pore openings, angled.
Stem: Stout; often disproportionately elongated. Pale brown, generally with a fine raised net-work of pink lines near junction of cap.
Flesh: White or yellowish, not changing color on fracture.
Taste: Agreeable and nutty, especially when young.
Habitat: Woods, especially during July and August; common.
Plate XX Boletus Edulis.
The most prominent member of the Boleti is the typical species whose portrait I have given on Plate 20, "in vain calling himself 'edulis,' where there were none to believe him." But in spite of this remark of Dr. Badham, which had reference especially to his native country, England, this fungus had long been a favorite article of food among a large class of the more lowly Europeans, to say nothing of the luxurious epicures of the continent.
Boletus edulis is to be found singly or in groups, usually in the woods. Its average diameter is perhaps four or five inches, though specimens are occasionally found of double these dimensions. A letter to the writer from a correspondent in the Rocky Mountains describes specimens measuring fifteen inches in diameter having been found there.
The cushion-like cap is more or less convex, according to age, of a soft brownish or drab color somewhat resembling kid, and with velvety softness to the touch. The under surface or hymenium is thickly beset, honey-combed with minute vertical pores, which will leave a pretty account of themselves upon a piece of white paper laid beneath them and protected from the least draught, a process by which we may always obtain a deposit of the ochre-tinted spores, as is further described in a later chapter.
In Boletus edulis this pore surface is white in young specimens, later yellow, finally becoming bright olive-green; flesh white or creamy, unchangeable on fracture. Stem paler than cap, thick, swollen at base, often malformed and elongated, especially when from a cluster, generally more or less covered with vertical raised ridges, which become somewhat netted together and pinkish as they approach the cap. The taste is sweet, and in the very young specimen, which is brittle, quite suggestive of raw chestnut.
Any Boletus answering this description may be eaten without fear, assuming, of course, that its substance is free from any taint of dissolution and traces of insect contamination. Both of these conditions are too apt to prevail in the mature specimens, and all Boleti are more safely employed for food in their young crisp stage, or at least before their full expansion. In their maturity, moreover, they often prove too mucilaginous in consistency to be pleasant to the average partaker, especially the novice.
In preparing them for the table, all that is necessary is to cut off the stems, which are apt to be tough and fibrous, and to wipe the pellicle of the cap perfectly clean, or, if preferred, to pare the pileus with a very sharp knife. It is recommended by some that the entire mass of the pore section be removed. In a mature specimen this would reduce the bulk of the mushroom by half, and, moreover, deprive the remainder of the full flavor of the fungus. I have not found it necessary, and it is certainly needless in a young and tender specimen.
Insects and decay. Preparation for table