Hippocrates first mentioned mushrooms
when he wrote about their medicinal value in 400 B.C. The first record of
year-round commercial production was in l780 when a French gardener began to
cultivate mushrooms in the underground quarries near Paris.
Mushrooms complement almost any
everyday meal. They are easy to sauté and add savory flavor, texture, appetite
appeal and nutrients to just about anything. From appetizers and salads to main
dishes and sides, mushrooms can be enjoyed in so many ways.
The mushroom is a fungus and is quite
finicky about its food source. Mushrooms lack the ability to use energy from the
sun. They are not green plants because they do not have chlorophyll. Mushrooms
extract their carbohydrates and proteins from a rich medium of decaying, organic
The mushroom industry is the ultimate
recycler. Mushroom substrate is made from straw; stable bedding; poultry litter;
and other organic materials. These by-products of other primary industries are
used to produce a selective nutrient-rich medium for production of a high
After these materials are mixed, the
substrate is then fermented and pasteurised. Spore (the seed of the mushroom) is
used to produce grain spawn under sterile conditions. The mushroom spawn is then
added to the substrate. Mushrooms are grown in sophisticated rooms in which the
environment is precision controlled to provide ideal growing conditions.
Constant checks ensure that temperature, air composition and humidity are kept
at the right levels while the spawn grows through the substrate.
A surface of casing soil is then
added to the substrate to provide a good bed on which the mushrooms will
multiply. At every stage of the process, the environment is carefully monitored
and hygiene strictly controlled. The growing process is unusual because
mushrooms do not have leaves or a root system like other crops; nor do they need
sunshine or chlorophyll.
Growers have made big investments in
climate-controlled growing environments specifically designed for mushrooms to
ensure that quality fresh mushrooms are available for consumers every day of the
year. The first mushrooms will appear in about twelve days and be ready for
harvest in about three weeks. Harvesting is done by hand by teams of trained
Each shelf of substrate produces three commercially harvestable crops (called ‘flushes’) over a period of about six weeks. Once the crop has been harvested, substrate provides an organic and nutritionally balanced product ideal for addition to high quality potting mixes or use as a garden mulch. Or used in the paddy fields. Thus, nothing is wasted.