(Long) Mushrooms mean money

Daniel B. Wheeler dwheeler at ipns.com
Wed Nov 6 05:00:20 EST 2002


>From The Oregonian, Oct. 7, 1982

Mushrooms mean money

By JOAN LeMIEUX, Correspondent, The Oregonian

	ROCHESTER, Wash. - Over one more hill, up a steep ridge, beneath tall
fir, under spring moss and soft salal, the treasure hunt goes on. Like
some highstake Easter egg hunt, the Chanterelle mushroom season comes
to the Pacific Northwest.
	The Chanterelle, long a delicacy in Northwest recipes, is now a
strong export item to Germany and also a growing part of the local
economy - providing alternative payroll for the newly unemployed.
	Buyer, Majory Craig of Rochester, Wash., noted an increase in
first-time pickers this year. Moving from sale to cashbox she
cheerfully gives advice to the newcomers. "The best growing areas are
under fir and tall timber." She adds, "Check in the moss or under
salal or especially under vine maple. Clearcut areas are not good
hunting grounds."
	But even with the best advice and years of practice, she notes
"finds" are still unpredicatable. "You go one place and find none.
Then suddenly there they are in a large group of a hundred of more."
	Craig offers picking and preparation advice as well. Shaking her head
in disapproval she warns of pulling up roots and all. "If you just cut
off the mushroom, in three weeks they will replenish themselves.
Pulled up by the roots, it will take years. And that doesn't help
anyone. Besides, the dirt that comes up with the roots makes for a
messy, less saleable mushroom."
	Additional hints include using buckets instead of plastic bags.
Poking holes in the buckets will allow moisture and leaves a place to
drop out. If German folklore is true, spores dropped from the bucket
will also speed up the reseeding process.
	As mushroom picking has gained in popularity, the number of buyer
stations has increased. In the past, pickers had to travel to Olympia
to find buyers. Now, Olympic Mountain Mushroom Company, Inc. of
Westport, Wash., has buying stations scattered throughout the sparsely
settled western Washington area in Pe Ell, Elbe, Packwood and
Ryderwood.
	Newcomers to the picking will find needed advice and help from
buyers. Looking up from checking a new box of golden Chanterelles,
Craig added, "Hey, just give us a call. We'll be glad to help people
get started."
	The season is expected to last until a good strong frost, although
heavy rains in early December can speed up disintegration of the crop.
	Craig is impressed by the number and caliber of this season's
pickers. She smiles as she remembers one older couple. "They take such
pride in their work. Those mushrooms come in all brushed off and clean
as a whistle."
	Pickers include out-of-work business people, students, even Boy Scout
groups and youth groups looking for new ways to supplement their
budgets.
	With initiative, picking can be profitable. Last year one picker made
$3,500 during the season.
	True, picking isn't easy and you have to be conscientious, but the
mushrooms are there. Gary Helland, of Chehalis, Wash., bringing in one
day's picking noted, "It's hard work; those hills get pretty steep and
it's awkward going over fallen trees and climbing into gullies. But
the scenery is beautiful. My wife and I enjoy being out there in good
weather.' This is Helland's first year. "I never knew there was such a
business until I talked to Mrs. Craig," he added.
	The Chanterelle hunt is a help this year to both the palate and the
pocketbook, in turn a benefit to the entire Pacific Northwest.

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com



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