Cultivated speciality mushrooms are a fully sustainable product. The fungus grows on woodchips from regenerated hardwood forestry offcuts. To cultivate we use only water, air and light – no pesticides, no chemicals and the semi-digested wood is used as mulch after harvesting the mushrooms. As we move towards a population of 9 billion in 2050, up from 6 billion today, we must get smarter about food production to meet food needs without making climate change worse. As high protein foods grown without using precious agricultural land, mushrooms are set to become a very important source of non-meat protein, suitable for all diets.
Mushrooms predate the evolution of man by millennia. In Asia, they have been cultivated for over 1000 years. In Europe, we have been learning the craft of growing speciality mushrooms for only a few decades, but now a wide range of these are available. We grow a few unusual, fragile or difficult to source types here in our farm at Stockbridge, Hampshire. We work with other specialist growers to be able to offer not only the largest range but the freshest possible mushrooms to our chef customers.
A set of 8 amino acids are essential for human health and mushrooms have all these as well as many others. The best truffle species have all 23 types, which explains their very intense flavour. The most flavoursome and best loved mushrooms have an abundance of the types of amino acids which are responsible for development of umami, the fifth taste element describing savoury flavours. Magical mushrooms indeed. Mushrooms are not vegetables. To develop the savoury umami, cook like meat with high heat to trigger the Maillard reaction and turn the amino acids into protein, just like the seared surface of steak.
The balancing of sweet, sour, salt & bitter is the fundamental craft of chefs. Talented cooks often do this by instinct, experience and good taste buds, but often overlooked is the extra savoury dimension available by using umami rich mushrooms.
Mushrooms have immensely tough cell walls made of a substance unique to fungi. This gives them a chewy texture missing in vegetables.
Mushrooms contain long chain polysaccharides. This gives them their sweetish flavour and is why they caramelise to a lovely golden colour. It’s also why when mushroom stock is reduced a gel forms.
Really fresh mushrooms smell like mushrooms but be quick, buy fresh or that extra aromatic dimension will be lost.
The essence of excellence is consistency – that’s why we aremushroom suppliers to many of the very best chefs.