Ideal growing conditions spawn giant mushrooms on Peninsula

<p>Brothers Mickey and Billy Gillum show off some giant boletes mushrooms they found last week. These mushrooms have a nutty and mild taste and can be stored sliced, and dry-preserved for years.</p><p></p>

LONG BEACH — Brothers Mickey and Billy Gillum fully expected to find mushrooms when they went looking last week.

After all, the two are experienced mushroom hunters who comb the Peninsula “from one end to the other” every day in the fall, Billy Gillum said.

What they didn’t expect was to find a mushroom almost big enough to serve as an umbrella.

Last Wednesday, the two stopped by the Chinook Observer newsroom to show off an impressive haul, culled (with permission) from local yards, where the warm, damp conditions are especially ideal for mushrooms in the fall.

Their harvest had several impressive “king Boletes,” including one that measured about 17 inches across the cap. Billy Gillum estimated that it weighed 7- to 8-pounds.

It’s not uncommon for Boletus mushrooms to get big, according to www.mushroaming.com, a guide to mushroom hunting in the Pacific Northwest, although they don’t usually grow to the size of a newborn-baby. Most get hollowed out by worms by the time they get big, rendering them inedible and causing them to rot.

The Gillums said they planned to sell most of the mushrooms to local restaurants, but would likely take at least one of the giants home to sauté or deep-fry, after soaking it overnight.

“A good mushroom is like a steak on a stick!” Mickey Gillum said.

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