Mushrooms might be the perfect food. They have no sugars (great for diabetics), not many carbohydrates (great for weight-watchers), many vitamins and minerals and loads of protein (great for vegetarians!).
Both Wollumbin Mushrooms’ Gary Miller and Shroom Bros’ Abel and Andrew Mohanu can be found at the markets dispensing their various types of glorious exotic mushrooms. Always in stock for the Shroom Bros are oyster, king and shiitake, although soon they will be adding pioppino (chestnut), lions mane, woodear and shimeji to the range. Gary – who ran a mushroom cultivation course eight years ago, until circumstances directed him to start his own business – grows oyster, nameko, native enoki, shimeji and shiitake. He says that he’s found the past few years a challenge with the latter, which he grows on logs stacked out in the forest.
I suggest it must be exciting using the natural fruiting method he does, visiting the forest (just outside Uki) without ever really knowing what he will find, and he agrees. ‘I can never guarantee supplies owing to the nature of the method I use’, he says. ‘It is disappointing at times but other times it’s just amazing. The mushrooms that grow this way are natural, seasonal and micro-seasonal.’
Andrew and Abel, meanwhile, have insulated greenhouses with air-conditioning, a humidification system and fresh air intake to provide year-round growing. Everything they sell is grown on their farm at Stokers Siding.
Abel tells me that there’s currently a big demand for king oyster mushrooms, as most of those, the supply of which is currently interrupted, came from China and South Korea. ‘We are trying to fill the gap’, he says, ‘and supply our Australian-grown variety in the meantime.’
Don’t forget Byron Gourmet Mushrooms either; glorious, glamorous, certified organic in a wide range of exotica, available fresh, dehydrated or as a seasoning.
They all concur that the best thing to do with mushrooms is to simply fry them (hot heat) in butter and garlic. Gary likes his with eggs, while eastern European Abel agrees with me about a garlicky tumble on top of polenta. Meanwhile, there’s a simple and delicious Mushroom Tarte Tatin on the website!
Wollumbin Mushroons are at New Brighton Farmers Market every Tuesday from 8–11am. Shroom Brothers are at Mullum Farmers Market every Friday from 7–11am