Indoor fruiting chamber is under way

We were the recipients this year of a grant from the Mill City Farmers Market to help start up some indoor mushrooms. Our outdoor season is mostly over so there is finally time to start building the indoor fruiting chamber and getting mushrooms going.

Last weekend we cleared an area in the pack shed and started installing a walk-in cooler box. Instead of using it as a cooler though, we’ll be warming it up so mushrooms can grow inside. Spore the farm cat was very helpful!

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As we reached the end the last wall piece gave us a lot of trouble. Jeremy was sitting on the ground trying to get the wall to stay together. “A lap!” is what Spore thought so she attempted to sit in Jeremy’s lap while he was trying to get the wall together. So helpful!

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Mostly done! We fit in a few layers of insulation on the floor as well. We need to fix that hole in the wall and then get some shelving into the space. We need to figure out a mix of heat, humidity, and fresh air as well, but hopefully soon we’ll be growing mushrooms in here! There won’t be enough to sell to grocery stores and restaurants. Our plan is to have them available for the winter farmers markets and maybe some winter CSA shares.

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The other big news on the farm is a changing of the guard. Andy, who was with us for about a year, moved back home to Pittsburgh. We’ll miss him – and his dog Kuma! With the growing season wrapping up our temporary worker Tony also moved on to another job. A few weeks ago we welcomed Desire as our winter worker. She’ll be helping with logging and inoculations and other winter projects. We’re happy to have her onboard and we’re looking forward to winter on the farm.

Recipe: Mushroom Stock

If you’ve cooked even a few of the recipes I’ve shared in the last year and a half you should have a good pile of mushroom stems saved up in your freezer. Now you can turn all those tough stems into yummy mushroom stock!

I made mushroom stock last weekend because we ended up with a pile of sandy mushrooms. Sad! We didn’t want to sell them and we didn’t really want to eat them, so I chopped them up, stems and all, and made stock. I’m sure all the grit went to the bottom of the pot and I strained the stock at the end.

Mushroom Stock

– Mushroom stems (and/or mushroom caps)
– Carrots
– Onions
– Parsley, Thyme
– Salt and pepper

How much of each ingredient depends on how big your pot is. You can fit a lot into a big stock pot. But if you only have a dutch oven (basically a large pot) or a large saucepan, you can scale down to smaller amounts. You want lots of mushrooms/stems and a little carrot, and you probably can’t have too many onions. I had a large stock pot and used 1 big carrot, 2 onions, a big handful of parsley, a healthy clump of thyme, and a ridiculous lot of mushrooms (I probably didn’t need as many as I used).

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You can just throw your mushroom stems (and mushrooms too) into the pot raw, but sauteing them in oil first adds a lot of flavor. Whether you saute or not, you want to cut everything up. It doesn’t need to be perfectly sliced, just roughly chopped. And the beauty of stock is, you can use everything! Throw in the carrot top and rooty bottoms, throw in the onion skins, use your onions and carrots even if they’re a bit dried up or gone limp. Saute everything (carrots, onions, mushrooms, herbs) in batches and then toss into your pot.

Add water to the pot to cover all the ingredients and an inch or two over that. Bring the pot to boil and then turn the heat down and let it simmer. You want to simmer for at least a few hours, the longer the better. Skim any foam off the top as its simmering.  When you start taste-testing, add salt and pepper to taste.

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How do you know when the stock is done? Your carrots will be well cooked and mashable. The water level will have gone down in the pot a couple inches. And you’ll know by the all important taste – is it mushroomy enough?  When it’s to your liking, you can strain the stock into canning jars. Freeze the jars to thaw and use when ready, or can them (which saves freezer space).

Use anywhere you would use stock or broth!

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