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Mushroom FAQ

One of the biggest apprehensions that our home chefs have when they first come to us is about mushrooms: How do I clean them? How do I store them? How do I cook with them? We’re here to help you navigate these questions and more so you can cook with confidence. Click the question below to get your answer!

Growing Mushrooms:

Choosing Mushrooms:

Storing & Cooking Mushrooms:

I hope that we can answer most of your questions about mushrooms. If there’s another question that you have about our mushrooms, or mushrooms in general, I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch and I’ll get back to you with an answer.

How does (this mushroom) grow?

Every type of mushroom grows in a different environment, and on different materials, but it all boils down to a similar 8-step process:

  1. Spores - Fully grown mushrooms, called fruits, will give off spores. These spores are unique to each mushroom, much like each plant's seed is unique to its kind.
  2. Spawn - The mushroom spores are cultivated onto a substrate such as millet grain, rye grain, or brown rice, to name a few. The spores inoculate the substrate, and form "spawn" - which equates to a more visible "seed" of the mushroom.
  3. Spawn Run - Mushroom spawn is added to another substrate based on the type of mushroom to be grown. For example, agaricus mushrooms (white button and crimini/portobello) grow on compost, but oyster mushrooms grow on straw. This mixture then sits for a time under specific environmental conditions to allow the fungi's mycelium to form throughout. Mycelium is the mushroom equivalent of a plant's roots.
  4. Casing - In agaricus mushrooms, there's an additional step after spawn run, where a layer of peat moss is added on top of the substrate. This is required to keep the compost moist, and to improve the crop's size, shape, and quality.
  5. Pinning - Once the mycelium has grown sufficiently (the process is called "spawn run"), we change the conditions in the room again to let the fungi know that it's time to create it's fruit - the mushrooms we all know and love!
  6. Harvesting- Once the mushrooms are of an adequate size, they're harvested, sorted, and packaged, or brought to the farmers market. Most mushrooms will make it to the farmers markets within 3 days of picking. In the grocery store, it takes around 6 days to reach the shelves.
  7. Breaks - We are typically able to get multiple crops ("breaks") of mushrooms from the same substrate. We are able to do this by changing the conditions periodically and by watering them at specific times to encourage more pins to form and grow.
  8. Clean Out - Once the mushrooms have run out of the nutrients they need in the substrate, they will stop growing. At this point in the process, we will clean out the growing room. We work with a company that takes the substrate, ages it further, and sells it to farmers and gardeners. Your plants will love this "spent mushroom compost."

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Where do you grow your mushrooms?

We grow our mushrooms in traditional mushroom houses, re-purposed refrigerated tractor trailers, and in purpose-built pole barns.

Traditional mushroom houses are large block buildings built into a hill. The lower side is called the breezeway side, and the upper side is called the wharf. We fill our houses from the wharf side, and move our harvested crops and clean our houses out from the breezeway side.

The growing rooms themselves are two stories tall, and have stacks of mushroom beds from floor to ceiling.We have heard of (and seen) mushroom farms in caves and mines, but we’d like to stick with growing above ground!

We hope to make a video of our farm for you soon!

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Are mushroom houses always dark and stinky?

Contrary to popular belief, the answer to both is no!

It’s true that mushrooms don’t need sunlight to grow, but they do use sunlight for an important thing - they convert sunlight to Vitamin D. Because of the importance of this nutrient to us as humans, we use lights in our growing rooms to give our mushrooms that boost of Vitamin D they would normally get when growing outside. Did you know that mushrooms are the only food in the produce aisle that are a source of Vitamin D?

Usually we get the statement “oh it must stink there!” a few times a market. You’ll be surprised to know that stinky mushroom houses are not the case here or in any mushroom house! The smell that people normally associate with mushroom houses is the smell of compost - decomposing and rotting organic (carbon based) matter.

It’s true that we use a lot of compost in growing mushrooms, but by the time we get it to fill our beds, it has been well rotted and completely pasteurized. This means that there’s no nasty smells, and more importantly for us growing mushrooms, it means that there aren’t any other mushrooms, molds, or diseases in the compost to affect our crop. Normally when people smell those nasty smells in the Southern Chester County area, it’s from the compost yards that are making our compost.

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What does (this mushroom) taste like?

Each mushroom has a different taste and texture. If you haven’t already, head over to download our guide to culinary mushrooms where we explain the flavor and best uses of 8 of the most popular culinary mushrooms!

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What's the best way to cook with (this mushroom)?

The simplest way to cook with any mushroom is to chop or slice it, and saute it in some butter or olive oil. Season it with a bit of salt and pepper as they’re cooking, and once they’re soft and tender, they’re ready to eat. Try adding some herbs, or a bit of white wine. Mushrooms can also be used in soups, can be grilled, roasted, and even slow cooked. Check out our free guide to culinary mushrooms for some tips on how to prepare each mushroom we grow.

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How do I know my mushrooms are fresh?

When you first get your mushrooms, they should be dry, plump, and firm. The only exception to this rule is the honey (nameko) mushroom, which grows with a natural wetness to it.

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What is that "stuff" on my mushrooms?

Our exotic mushrooms grow on sawdust, straw, and millet grains, so you may see some attached to the base of the mushrooms. For the white button, crimini, and portobello mushrooms, the “stuff” you may see on them is peat moss, a material we use on top of the compost.

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Where can I get Medina Mushrooms?

We primarily sell our products through farmers markets and other farms and businesses in the area. You can pre-order on our website for pick up at any of our farmers market locations, and check with our other partners for pre-order and pick up options. 

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How should I store my mushrooms to keep them fresh?

Keep your mushrooms in a sealed paper bag in the refrigerator. This retains just enough moisture but allows them to breathe, preventing them from spoiling quickly.

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How long will they last in the fridge?

Our mushrooms are brought to you within a few days (sometimes hours) of being picked. Because of this, most of our mushrooms will last two weeks or more in your fridge. Some mushrooms will last longer than others (shiitakes are rock stars for this), but the Lion’s Mane mushrooms tend to spoil within a week.

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How do I know if they've gone bad?

Mushrooms that have gone bad will be slimy, mushy, and/or give off a foul odor. If you notice that your mushrooms start to look shriveled up, but they don’t smell, you have made dehydrated mushrooms, congratulations! This is the most ideal thing to happen to mushrooms over time in your fridge. You can still use these mushrooms, and as a matter of fact, they’re perfect for soups.

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Should I clean my mushrooms?

Just like with other produce, it's best to make sure your mushrooms are clean before cooking and eating. It’s best to use a gentle brush or damp paper towel to remove any “stuff” from your mushrooms. You may rinse your mushroom with water to clean them, but only do this right before you’re going to cook with them, as the extra moisture causes them to spoil faster if washed further ahead of time.

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