Cep or penny bun (Boletus edulis)

One of the foragers choice finds, this mushroom is described as a delicacy and quite rightly.  Equally delicious cooked or raw, this is one of the few mushrooms that are OK to eat without cooking. Along with the other members of the Bolete family, this mushroom has pores or tubes under the cap rather than

Key identification points:

Cap: 12-25cm, rounded like a bun when young but flattening as they mature, light/mid/dark brown with a white edge, very firm
Pores / tubes: very small, white at first then yellowing through to green, spongey
Flesh: white and firm, smells delicious
Stem: 6-15cm, very swollen particularly at the base, beige/brown colour with a network of white lines
Habitat and distribution: open woodland, often growing in the grassy margins near the edge of the woodland, likes to be out of the shade

Ceps are known as procini in Italy and are one of our more familiar fungi particularly in Italian restaurants.  They have wonderful mushroomy flavour and can be used in a huge range of dishes, from risotto to pasta sauce, mushroom soup to cep carpaccio (one of our favourite recipes).


Bitter Bolete (Tylophilus fellens) 

This member looks very similar to the Penny buns and it is very easy to mix them up in a basket of edible mushrooms.  Whilst Bitter Boletes are not poisonous, as their name suggests, they are incredibly biter and will spoil any mixed mushroom dish.  They are genuinely inedible.

The key identification point is the pattern on the stem - Bitter Boletes have a dark brown "net" over a cream stem whereas Ceps have a white "net" over a reddish brown stem. The cap on Bitter Boletes is lighter brown and lacks the white edge.

If you want to be absolutely sure that you don't have Bitter boletes in your basket break off the tiniest part of the cap and give it a little nibble.  You will soon know!