Short stemmed Slippery Jack Mushroom

Small cluster of slippery jack's
Small cluster of slippery jack’s

Sometimes you don’t even have to walk into the woods to find interesting mushrooms.  I found these just outside the door at work growing under a small pine tree.  Like many species of the genus Suillus, S. brevipes is edible, and the mushroom is considered choice by some. The odor is mild, and the taste mild or slightly acidic. Field guides typically recommend to remove the slimy cap cuticle, and in older specimens, the tube layer before consumption. Fact of the day: this mushroom is common in the diet of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park. I have never eaten these or know of anyone that has. Even if I know it is edible I am very cautious of eating a new mushroom.  Even if they are reported as edible there is always  chances for them to react badly with the digestion.  I passed on eating these and am sticking with eating my large amount of Chanterelle and King boletes that I have found so far this year.  But in the interest of adding more mushrooms to my list of potential food I thought I would write about these. Listed below are a some great books that are of use when trying to identify a new mushroom species.

Now some general info on this type of mushroom from wikipedia:

Habitat and distribution: Suillus brevipes grows singly, scattered, or in groups on the ground in late summer and autumn. A common, and sometimes abundant, mushroom, it occurs over most of North America (including Hawaii), south to Mexico, and north to Canada. This species has been found in Puerto Rico growing under planted Pinus caribaea, where it is thought to have been introduced inadvertently from North Carolina by the USDA Forest Service in 1955. Other introductions have also occurred in exotic pine plantations in Argentina, India, New Zealand, Japan, and Taiwan.

Suillus brevipes is a mycorrhizal fungus, and it develops a close symbiotic association with the roots of various tree species, especially pine. The underground mycelia form a sheath around the tree rootlets, and the fungal hyphae penetrate between the cortical cells of the root, forming ectomycorrhizae. In this way, the fungus can supply the tree with minerals, while the tree reciprocates by supplying carbohydrates created by photosynthesis. In nature, it associates with two- and three-needle pines, especially lodgepole and ponderosa pine. Under controlled laboratory conditions, the fungus has been shown to form ectomycorrhizae with ponderosa, lodgepole, loblolly, eastern white, patula, pond, radiata, and red pines. In vitro mycorrhizal associations formed with non-pine species include Pacific madrone, bearberry, western larch, Sitka spruce, and coast Douglas-fir. Fungal growth is inhibited by the presence of high levels of the heavy metals cadmium (350 ppm), lead (200 ppm), and nickel (20 ppm).
During the regrowth of pine trees after disturbance like clearcutting or wildfire, there appears an orderly sequence of mycorrhizal fungi as one species is replaced by another. A study on the ecological succession of ectomycorrhizal fungi in Canadian jack pine forests following wildfire concluded that S. brevipes is a multi-stage fungus. It appears relatively early during tree development; fruit bodies were common in 6-year old tree stands, and the fungus colonized the highest proportion of root tips. The fungus persists throughout the life of the tree, having been found in tree stands that were 41, 65, and 122 years old. There is, however, a relative reduction in the prevalence of the fungus with increasing stand age, which may be attributed to increased competition from other fungi, and a change in habitat brought about by closure of the forest canopy. Generally, S. brevipes responds favorably to silvicultural practices such as thinning and clearcutting. A 1996 study demonstrated that fruit bodies increased in abundance as the severity of disturbance increased. It has been suggested that the thick-walled, wiry rhizomorphs produced by the fungus may serve as an adaptation that helps it to survive and remain viable for a period of time following disturbance.

Not a very large type of bolete. The largest ones I saw were 4 inches at the most across on the cap
Not a very large type of bolete. The largest ones I saw were 4 inches at the most across on the cap

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Wild Mushroom Soup

With the fall rains upon us it is time for a wild mushroom bonanza for those people brave enough to go out into the very wet forests of the Pacific Northwest. Since I am a very avid hunter of shrooms I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes for these plentiful fungi. There are hundreds of variations of soups that you can make out wild mushrooms. This is a very basic recipe that you can easily add ingredients to that will fit anyone’s taste buds. My word of warning though if you do not know with 100% accuracy what you are picking “DO NOT EAT THEM” a lot of knowledge makes for a tasty night, but a little bit makes for a trip to the hospital.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2-ounce dried and crumbled Hedgehog mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 12-20 ounces assorted sliced wild mushrooms (such as Chanterelle, Yellowfoot, or Hedgehog)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-fat (1%) milk

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, and add dried mushrooms to the saucepan; let them soak until the mushrooms soften, in about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving broth but discarding any sediment in broth. Coarsely chop up the mushrooms if needed (rarely need to chop with hedgehogs).

Heat the olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until tender, about seven minutes should do it. Add wild mushrooms and sauté until brown and tender, about 8 minutes. Add minced garlic, thyme, and rehydrated mushrooms and sauté for two minutes. Sprinkle flour over; stir one minute. Gradually whisk in reserved mushroom soaking broth and low-fat milk. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until soup thickens slightly, about 12 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot. Bring soup to simmer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

This soup is excellent in a sourdough breadbowl. I have used multiple different types of mushrooms in this and all of them have turned out great. The next variety I would like to make would be to include some chicken of the woods mushrooms in it. The firmness of that variety of mushroom should give it a good texture, and make it more like a creamy chicken mushroom soup.