While passing through Coos Bay a couple of weeks ago, we spotted a “mushroom buyer” shack at the south end of town, on the east side of Highway 101. Although we had never stopped there before, we decided to stop and see what was going on.
Michelle and Jungle George show
off some of their day's bounty.
We were glad we did. The place is called Jake’s Mushroom Shack (541-290-0879), and seems popular with local pickers. A guy with the improbable nickname of Jungle George and his lady, Michelle were cleaning their day’s bounty to make them ready for Jake, the buyer. Their take consisted of Winter Chantrelles (Cantharellus Infundibuliformis) the locals call “Yellow Feet,” and Hedgehogs (Hydnum Repandum), which they said were still reasonably abundant in some deep woods inland a few miles in mid March. The mushrooms were in good condition and looked appealing.
To our taste, the Hedgehogs are the preferred species by far, with great visual appeal, a flavor the equal of golden chantrelles, and with stems as tasty as the caps. The Yellow Feet have good flavor but are more fragile, and the stems especially will basically disintegrate in cooking. Their prices reflect this: the Hedgehogs were bringing $6.00 per lb., while the Yellow Feet were at $3.50 per lb. They said they’d seen only a few Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), and it would be into April before morels started to show up on the other side of the Coast Range, near Medford, Ashland and points north.
Jake’s is a standout among mushroom shacks we have seen. The place is clean and well lit, and contains very well set up areas for cleaning, complete with compressed air. The pickers appreciate the difference between it and other shacks, which are often dark and gloomy and lack the facilities available here. Jake is knowledgeable, and treats the pickers with genuine respect. The price paid out is basically the same wherever they go… who wouldn’t want to bring their mushrooms here?
On Sunday, March 30, the mushroom bag was still the same – Yellow Feet and Hedge Hogs, but a week ago one lucky picker had brought in the first morels of the year – 2.3 lbs. of them – and was paid a first-of-the-year price, $23.00 per lb. The price will drop quickly as soon as the season gets underway.
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For more information on commercial mushrooming on this site, please go to other category sites, including the post entitled Some Thoughts on Commercial Mushroom Picking and "B's Story" found in Meet the 'Shroomers.