Monday, January 9, 2012

Mushroom Cultivation

Did you know that mushrooms such as White Button, Crimini and Portobello are the only mushrooms that can be grown in captivity?  Morels, Porcini and Truffles are among other edible mushrooms needed to be gown in a forest.  I took interest to these fun facts on a recent trip I took to Gourmet Mushroom located in Sebastopol, California.  It was here that the exotic mushroom industry started, and Gourmet Mushroom was the first to grow cultivated mushrooms in the Western Hemisphere.  Mushrooms are saprophytes: meaning they feed off the breakdown of dead material.  A moistened sawdust mixture is used for commercial growing.  Jars are filled with the sawdust mixture in which the mushrooms are grown.  Join me on a quick tour and see what it takes to produce some yummy fungi!

Mushrooms naturally grow on solid and borken down wood.  Here Oak Sawdust, Wheat Bran and ground Corn Cob are mixed and used as the medium used to grow mushrooms.  This mixture helps the growing process move "more quickly" as it's "pre digested" food for the mushrooms.
Jars are filled with sawdust mixture which mushrooms will grow in.

Once the jars are packed with sawdust they take a trip the auto clave which steam sterilizes the jars and saw dust.  Once bottles are sterilized and come down to room temperature a culture is added to the bottles.  These mushrooms are grown from a culture and not from spors. 
Jars are crated and stacked once the culture has been added.
Jars are stored in a steral room where U-V lights are present to kill germs.
Mushrooms in the growing room.
Mushrooms beginning to sprout.
Mushrooms ready to be harvested!  24,000 jars are hand harvested each week.
A winner of a mushroom!  Gourmet Mushroom harvest 6,000 - 8,000 mushrooms a week.
Harvested jars await to be cleaned to repeat the process.  Gourmet Mushroom harvests 7 days a week for 365 days year with no season.