One day while describing the different flavors encountered with the various oyster mushroom varieties it occurred to me that it is like reading the back of a wine bottle. Therefore when discussing this topic with customers, we always preface our speech using that qualifier. For instance, when describing salmon oysters, I tell customers that it has a ham-like flavor. I elaborate by stating that it is not like chewing on a piece of ham steak. Rather, while masticating, one will try to match the flavor encountered to a previous dining experience and with the salmon oysters, ham is the closest match.
Bottom line, all of the mushrooms that I grow and sell would work well for about any culinary application of which one could dream, but for those looking to capitalize on the texture, flavor, shape, etc. that a particular mushroom could offer and/or to better be able to select a mushroom that would best compliment a dish, this article is for you.
Gourmet mushrooms are often used as a meat substitute – for example, Lion’s Mane can be used as a substitute for crab meat, Oyster Mushrooms can be a substitute for pork in a pulled BBQ sandwich, etc. Folks like to use mushrooms as a healthy alternative (Meatless Monday), due to ethical reasons (Vegetarian friendly) or due to food allergies (shellfish allergy). In these cases, it’s pretty impressive when someone can say the mushroom is “as good as” or “nearly as good as” the real thing.
However – I think I have found one case where the mushroom is BETTER than the real thing.
There are two types of people that approach my table at the local farmers market:
1) Those that love mushrooms and are eager to inspect, discuss, and purchase my wares
2) Those that are curious and walk by my booth as if those “flowers” or “seashells” might jump off of the table and bite them.
Sometimes patrons at the farmers market ask me if I am selling seashells or flowers. : )
Yes, many a time I have had people ask me if I was selling flowers or seashells. : ) The fellow fungiphiles need no indoctrination into the world of the incredible mushroom but I absolutely love, love, love bringing those that are wary in with a bit of friendly convo, only to convert them to my mushroom loving ways. See, it is not about the money (although I do love me some greenbacks…they pay the bills), but more about opening people’s eyes to the world of edible fungi (that is composed of more than the common white button, cremini, or portobello mushroom….all Agaricus species).
If I had a dime for every time someone asked me one of two questions: 1) can you teach me how to start a business growing mushrooms and 2) do you make a lot of money….I would probably make more money than I ever would running the business, lol!!! No seriously though, I get these and similar questions almost daily. I appreciate people’s shared enthusiasm for the incredible edible mushroom but I feel it would be beneficial for me to write an article on this topic for two reasons 1) I can just tell people to read the article when they ask me one of those questions and 2) it really is good info for people to have who are seriously considering starting a mushroom farm. You wanna go into starting any business with “your eyes wide open”.
First things first – Fox Farm & Forage is based in North Carolina, where BBQ is serious business. Folks around here take their smoked sauced meat very seriously, so it’s practically sacrilege to suggest that we are replacing tasty juicy pork with oyster mushrooms.
We have been super busy here at Fox Farm Forage – we have recently added a new fruiting chamber to accommodate our growth. Its so nice, there is so mush room! Sorry, mushroom jokes. Anyway, here is a quick video we put together – hope you enjoy it!
This is such a huge topic that it will be broken down into individual articles in order to provide info for those who want instant gratification with no effort to those like me who want to grow mushrooms from the ground up, er should I say petri dish.
Update 11/23/15: What I have decided to do in light of the fact that 1) I simply do not have the time to write articles on the proposed topics and 2) there are so many articles/websites out there that have already thoroughly addressed these topics, I am simply going to provide links to helpful sites/articles under each topic and only write articles where my experience/perspective necessitates that I do so.
Also, when I add new info, I will put an update date in that section so you will easily know if it is new info or not.