What it takes to grow and sell mushrooms / UNC-TV Science
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What it takes to grow and sell mushrooms / UNC-TV Science


– If your only experience
of mushrooms has been this situation, then
that might explain why you think you
don’t like mushrooms. Most people can’t digest
raw mushrooms easily because they’re
built from chitin, the same compound that lobster
shells are made out of. I’m not trying to dump
on button mushrooms, but there are
thousands of varieties of edible mushrooms out there. Depending on the type,
they might be floral, meaty, crispy, tangy, woodsy, whatever marketing term
tickles your fancy. But to get those unique
variety of mushrooms from the woods onto your plate requires three
levels of expertise. Foraging, cloning, and cooking. Fortunately, these
guys have all three. – I’m Kathy. – And I’m Ernie. – [Kathy] And we’re
mushroom farmers. – But first, a
refresher on mushrooms. They aren’t plats,
they aren’t animals. They’re a fungi, which
are somewhere in between. They don’t get their energy
from the sun like plants, but instead absorb nutrients
from other organisms like rotting wood or insects. Also, the thing we
think of as a mushroom is only the fruiting body. Beneath the surface is mycelium, a web of threadlike
filaments called hyphae. They do all the work
of ingesting nutrients and breaking down matter. The mushroom itself only
pops up to spread spores, the fungal version of seeds. Another side note. Technically, the largest
known organism in the world is actually a mushroom. It’s made up of more
than 2,000 acres of genetically identical
hyphae in Oregon. Okay, back to foraging
with Ernie and Kathy. – Being at the foot
of Pilot Mountain, the forests that we have
on the slopes of the hills on our farm are pretty
old, so we’ve got basically old-growth
fungus, in a way. – If we could just
sit out in the woods and forage all day,
I’d be down with that. – It’s like hunting for
seashells on the beach. – You’re just always
sure if you go around that next big tree, you
just know there’s something on the other side of it, or
maybe just past that creek. – Disclaimer. One should never put an unknown
mushroom in one’s mouth. It’s a good way to get sick. – There’s literally
nothing on Earth that if you have to say
I wonder what this is, that you ought to
put it in your mouth. Right? – [Host] Most mushrooms
that Ernie and Kathy find in the woods are mycorrhizal,
meaning they grow in collaboration with trees. Trees give the mushrooms
sugars and in exchange, the mushrooms transfer
nutrients to the trees. But tree-loving mushrooms
like chanterelles are tough to raise in captivity, so foraging season may be
the only time you see them. For the rest of the year,
mushroom farmers rely on cloning, not foraging,
for their livelihood. [birds chirp] So, cloning a mushroom is
literally what it sounds like. In theory, anyone can
take a little piece of mushroom, feed it
nutrients, and eventually it will grow up to be an
identical genetic copy of the parent mushroom. But it’s a little more
complicated than that, because in the process,
you have to make sure that molds and
bacteria don’t grow alongside the fungus
that you want. – As we’re gonna be starting
with filthy mushrooms that just came out of the woods, we want to make sure
that we’re not gonna be introducing contaminants
onto the ager itself. Eventually, it covers
the surface of the ager. Once it’s grown out on the
plate, we can basically cut little pieces
of ager and use them to inoculate
sterilized rye grain. You can see that the
mycelium is growing out, so they’re little clones
of the exact same thing and they are bombs that
are ready to be dispersed into whatever we want
the mycelium to grow in. So it’s like if you
threw a bunch of feet and hands and arms
and legs into a bag and shook it up and
they connected together to form an individual. – Creepy metaphor, but it works. After cloning and letting
the mycelium grow out, Ernie and Kathy add
it to bags of sawdust to pack with nutrients for the
final stage of the process. With the right amount
of humidity and light, the mycelium fruit
into a mushroom. The cool thing about
cloning is that if you find a delicious
tasting mushroom, you can cultivate that
exact same mushroom and keep it for the future. – Every wild mushroom you find, there’s genetic diversity,
there are gonna be differences in flavor
and nutrient profiles, and you might find
something really cool that could be exceptional. – We farm mushrooms because
we like to eat mushrooms. [jazzy piano music] You want chanterelles
or shiitaki? – You can do chanterelles,
I wanna do pink oysters. – Okay. So chanterelles are
a firmer mushroom. They’ve got that good,
nutty, earthy flavor, and a little bit fruity,
so when you smell them, they smell a bit of apricots
and you get a little bit of that flavor
when you eat them. Cook them at least
a few minutes, they’ll release some
water, and then cook it until most of that
water absorbs again. Get me some butter. Add butter at the end, or
olive oil, it’s delicious. – Pink oysters are a really
fleshy species of oyster. The term rubbery is
not a term I would use. But they’re a little
bit like that. They’ve got almost a
pork like flavor and just a little bit crispy so you
get a little bit of crunch with them and then it bursts,
almost like eating bacon where you get that
burst of fat coming out when you bite into it. They’re spectacular. – [Kathy] Pioppinos are another
one of the firmer mushrooms, and they’ve got a good, just
woodland, nutty, earthy flavor. – If you need a
mushroom for miso soup, pioppinos are the way to go. – Also with pasta, especially
if it’s a very light sauce. And a little goat cheese. Little goat cheese. – A few more things. You really can’t
overcook mushrooms because they’re built with
those tight webs of hyphae that don’t absorb or
release water easily, so they won’t dry out
and they won’t get mushy. Also you may have heard that you should
never wash mushrooms, leading you to spend an
annoying amount of time painstakingly wiping
down individual mushrooms and using a horrifying
amount of paper towels. But with most mushrooms
you get from the store, it’s fine to dunk them in water. They have special proteins
that make them water resistant, which is why they
don’t immediately rot after a rainstorm in the woods. Also, it’s okay if you
don’t like mushrooms. But you’re wrong. – I think I would probably
just be a puffball. I think I’d be a puffball,
just waiting for some kid to come stomp and make a
lovely cloud to dance in. – I would be a destroying
angel, just because– – [Ernie] That’s
a terrible answer. – They’re tall and elegant. – You’re not that tall, though. You’re elegant. – [Host] Are they poisonous? – They are deadly. [laughs]

One thought on “What it takes to grow and sell mushrooms / UNC-TV Science

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this video!!! My family and friends mushroom hunt yearly. I adore them and grow on the log, but going to take a class on the spore development and cloning. 🙂 Thanks for great content for the just curious to the wanting to farm your own types!!👍

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