Archive for June, 2012
Gourmet Mushrooms, pioneers in organic specialty mushroom cultivation, celebrated their 35th year anniversary last Saturday. A small group from Earls attended the tour of their facility in Sebastopol, located in beautiful Sonoma County Wine Country. The tour was followed by mushroom tastings including grilled mushrooms dipped in soy sauce and sautéed mushrooms with Cajun spices paired with Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wine poured by Gary Farrell Winery.
Earl’s Organic sells all of Gourmet Mushroom’s varieties which include the Alba Clamshell, Brown Clamshell, Trumpet Royale, Forest Nameko, Velvet Pioppini, Nebrodini Bianco in the sampler pack and Maitake Frondosa. For more information on each mushroom and culinary tips click here.
David Law, President and CEO of Gourmet Mushrooms led us through the warehouse where we saw the vast amounts of recycled plastic bottles that are sterilized and reused over and over to grow most of the mushroom varieties. The majority of the Maitake Frondosa is grown in bottles although they are experimenting with growing in bags to produce larger heads, a form that is preferred by some chefs. The bottles are filled to the top with sawdust oak shavings and then mixed with other natural ingredients such as rice hulls. Water is then injected into the sawdust, the growing medium, and then sterilized. When the bottles have cooled down, the mushroom spawn or culture of mushroom is injected into the bottle, capped off and moved to the germination rooms. The bottles are stacked efficiently in crates maximizing the space in the warehouse. Mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus, grows as a result of the spawn absorbing the nutrients from the sawdust and begins to form the actual mushroom, turning the bottle from dark brown to white.
Now it is time for the bottles to be moved to the growing room where cooler temperatures will encourage the mycelium to send up its stem and cap.
Depending on the variety, mushrooms will be in the growing rooms between 7 and 21 days. For example a Trumpet mushroom may only take 10 days to grow until harvest but a Maitake can take 21 days. Namekos are the only variety that gets a second harvest out of the bottle. Click here for a video of the entire process.
Gourmet Mushrooms harvests every day of the week and the mushrooms never stop growing. Check out some delicious mushroom recipes such as grilled spicy Trumpet Royale or Braised Lamb Shanks with Trumpet Royale Mushrooms and Zinfandel. Summer is the perfect time to pair some delicious mushrooms with your barbecue fare!
Earl’s is starting an exciting new partnership with local wheatgrass grower Grateful Greens. George Phillips, owner of Grateful Greens has been growing wheatgrass since 2007 when he bought the company and he became certified organic in 2010. George left the stressful and busy life of High Tech and Wall Street to pursue a healthier lifestyle. He has always believed that nutrition and a healthier lifestyle are connected.
George has 14 acres of land in Brentwood, CA about an hour east of San Francisco, with 11,000 square feet of greenhouse space. He grows 90% wheatgrass and 10% sprouts including sprouted bean mix, sunflower and pea sprouts. George composts any extra organic matter and he is also working on using solar energy to power the fans and control the temperatures in the greenhouses.
Wheatgrass is well known for its health benefits as a super food. It contains a high concentration of nutrients including chlorophyll, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Wheatgrass has a strong “grassy” flavor and some people like to add a little lemon or orange juice to make the shot taste less bitter. If you add a drop of vanilla it adds a little sweetness to the wheatgrass. One shot of wheatgrass has the same nutrients as a good-sized spinach salad.
Wheatgrass is at its peak nutritional value when it is 5-6 inches tall and it doesn’t taste as bitter. Wheatgrass can be grown outside but it is much easier to control the quality and taste by growing it inside a greenhouse. It is grown by soaking the red, winter wheat seeds for one day, draining the water and then planting the seeds in trays. The wheatgrass needs to be lightly watered 2-3x a day until it’s harvested. The water used to grow the wheatgrass drains into a retention pond and goes back into the aquifer. The Growth cycle really depends on weather. In the winter when it’s colder it could take up to 12 days to grow. In the summer when it’s warmer wheatgrass can grow to its ideal height in 10 days. The wheatgrass is shipped in trays and is still alive up until it is juiced.
Many people drink wheatgrass juice as part of a detoxifying program. George says that wheatgrass can help mitigate the effects of some of the compromising we do in our diets. The easiest way to try wheatgrass is to buy a shot at a juice bar or if you’re really serious you can juice it at home with a masticating manual juicer.
We look forward to growing our partnership with Grateful Greens. George’s wheatgrass is here now!