THE HISTORY OF MUSHROOMS
THE CULTIVATION OF MUSHROOMS
The modern method of cultivation begins with the production of a growing medium. This consists of mainly wheat straw, a small amount of organic material (to start the process) and lots of water.
These materials are mixed for a period of 3 weeks to achieve a consistent mixture. This material is then pasteurized, in a similar manner to milk, to kill off any unwanted bacteria. This process takes another week.
From here the growing medium is moved to the growing rooms and mixed with mushroom spawn. This consists of wheat that has been specially prepared and has mushroom mycelium growing on it.
The word ‘mycelium’ is used to describe the fungus of which the mushroom is the fruit body. In the growing room the temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide concentration are controlled to grow the mycelium into the growing medium.
Once the mycelium has grown off the wheat grains and spread throughout the growing medium, it is covered with peat moss that has been sterilised to, once again, remove any unwanted organisms.
After a period of approximately 3 weeks the first mushrooms appear. This takes us to a total of 8 weeks from when the wheat straw was first mixed to when the mushrooms may be picked.
On DENNY farms these mushrooms are then harvested daily over a period of 4 weeks and delivered to the shops every morning, fresh.
THE NUTRITIVE VALUE OF MUSHROOMS
The nutritive value of mushrooms and various vegetables is about the same. There are however marked differences in the protein content. Cultivated mushrooms contain a lot of easily digestible proteins.
Between 70% and 90% of the protein present can be easily digested from the mushroom and the nutritive value can further be increased by careful preparation (cutting the mushroom into small pieces and stewing them) as well as chewing them well. However, the quality of the proteins present in mushrooms seem to be better than that of the proteins contained in vegetables.