Mushrooms might be a good business idea, if you handle mushroom production process well. Gone are the days mushrooms were picked in the forest only. For most consumers nowadays, mushrooms come from the supermarket. But how do they get there? It’s the question for you to answer if you find yourself thinking about mushroom production as a business.
Mushrooms are grown on the farms and sold in grocery stores. Unlike most vegetables, the mushrooms can come from greenhouses even during winter. So yes – mushrooms can be harvested every day of the year and delivered fresh to local shops.
Fun fact – what is a mushroom?
Mushrooms are considered vegetables by law, but in reality, they have a very different life compared with other plants. There are many species of mushrooms in the world, but only a few are edible.
What are the main parts of the mushroom production process?
You should plan your investments upfront if you think about mushroom growing on a business scale.
Mushroom growers invest substantially in new technologies to increase productivity and improve food quality and safety. Most significant investments should go to designing and building the new packaging and storage plants.
It would be best to think about storage capacity with refrigeration, wholly separated from the cultivation rooms. As a mushroom producer, you should also invest in food safety training, documentation, and worker health and safety.
Is It Easy To Grow Mushrooms?
Not really! It is a science-based art. Many are under the illusion of being able to do it in the cellar or abandoned sites. However, it is not recommended to undertake high costs on old sites because today, the technology and modern and specially built sites are the main factors for production yields.
The science of the mushroom production process is well known. The art of mushroom cultivation lies in managing variables such as climate, raw materials, and biosecurity. On the other hand, it must be organized in perfectly functional environments suitable for growing food.
What is the life cycle of mushrooms?
From the moment the mycelium is added to the substrate, the first crop matures in 30 days. Over the next two weeks, one or two more crops follow this from the same growing beds. Hence, the nutrients in the substrate are depleted. Therefore, each growth cycle can take anywhere from 7 to 12 weeks, depending on the management schedule.
How can mushroom growers help other farmers?
Mushroom farms offer livestock and poultry farmers a valuable service by turning their agricultural by-products into a healthy food crop and helpful soil conditioner, known as a dead mushroom substrate. It’s just another way to monetize your mushroom production process.
So, you have collected all your harvest. How can you preserve it? We have selected several most popular processing methods used in mushroom production process. Each of them requires a different processing line setup.
Also, all of them can be used either on an industrial or home kitchen scale. Choose what suits you best.
It is the most used type of preservation. We will tell you how mushrooms are processed, taking you along the production chain and explaining the path from transforming a fresh product into a packaged product.
The water is vaporized during the drying process, while the contained aromas are concentrated. According to the mushroom species, water constitutes 82 to 92% of the fresh mushroom.
Food regulations usually define “dried mushrooms” as those with a humidity rate not exceeding 12% after natural or mechanical drying.
You must carefully clean the mushrooms of soil and other foreign bodies without washing them before drying. Discard those that are damaged or bruised.
Natural drying method
Cut mushrooms into large slices, and arrange them on mesh frames. The frames can be placed in the sun or even in the shade as long as they are in a dry air stream. You will have to be careful to withdraw them at nightfall, so they do not take the night’s humidity. Put them back if necessary the next day. Beware that this method needs particularly favorable climatic conditions!
The resulting product has superior organoleptic quality and can be recognized by the color varying between light hazelnut and dark hazelnut. The slice of mushroom produced with this drying method usually remains softer.
Modern drying method
For the commercial mushroom production process, you can use professional electric dryers. Drying using a dryer allows for treating a high quantity of mushrooms, which makes it more suitable for an industrial level. To get good drying results, it is necessary to operate initially at reduced temperatures; for example, running the dehydrator for 4 hours at 113°F and subsequently at 140°F for 1-2 hours is recommended.
In dryers, the process is much faster and easily controlled. The result is dried mushrooms ranging in color from white to cream, with an unaltered shape and generally more fragile and delicate.
Note: Absolutely to avoid is the use of the domestic oven, in which the mushrooms tend to dehydrate very quickly, becoming dark and ultimately losing their scent.
How to store dried mushrooms at home?
We often talk about how to preserve dried mushrooms. But what are the best methods to maintain aromas and flavors over time?
Should an open and half-eaten bag of dried mushrooms be kept in the pantry, perhaps in a glass jar? Or does the package have to be used at one time?
Neither of these solutions is the best. We will reveal the optimal method to preserve dried mushrooms so that the aroma and taste remain intense and delicious. In this way, you will have a good and fragrant product as if it was just packaged.
The best way to store dried mushrooms is to freeze them in the freezer.
If the bag is sealed, it will be enough to put it in your home freezer. If you have a handful of mushrooms leftover from a bag, get another bag of frozen food and put them unwashed into the bag. Remember to mark the date on which you freeze them, considering that consuming them within a year is preferable.
A significant advantage that this method of conservation guarantees is that moths or butterflies, often attracted by the intense scent, will not have access to your mushrooms. And you will be amazed by these other benefits of freezing dry mushrooms:
- color, taste, and smell will remain unchanged
- they will not absorb humidity from the outside, changing their consistency
- from the bag of mushrooms that you have frozen, you can also take a small amount of mushrooms
- as soon as they are removed from the freezer, the mushrooms will be as fresh as they have been picked in a few minutes
Another method involves adding pepper to the product and store in airtight containers. This helps prevent the mushroom from regaining moisture which could cause negative effects on its conservation and quality.
If production packaging is needed, the dried mushrooms must pass several checks before being packaged. You must verify the quality and genuineness of all the batches. Also, carry out a careful selection to eliminate blackened or damaged mushrooms. Then you can carry on with a subsequent phase of control and manual bagging.
Preserve Mushrooms By Freezing
Freezing is now a widespread food preservation process in the household and industrial mushroom production process.
Freezing causes an almost total block of microbial growth at 14°F and an entire block at -1°F. At this temperature occurs the inactivation of the enzymes involved in the degradation of food.
You can freeze mushrooms both fresh and slightly blanched. Before the freezing process, you must thoroughly clean fresh mushrooms without washing them. It would help if you also chose young, medium-sized, and not too mature specimens. They will have to be quickly washed in cold water, sliced and placed in a pot, and cooked while still frozen at the time of use.
To prevent them from sticking together, you can freeze fresh mushrooms after first placing them lying on a food tray container. Once frozen, you can transfer them to traditional freezer bags and then use them in the desired quantities.
To freeze after short cooking, proceed as follows:
- Wash the mushrooms.
- Put them in a pan, and cut them into pieces.
- Light the fire and bring them to a boil using their own cooking water.
- When the boiling temperature is reached, turn off the heat and cool them.
- Place them in the freezing containers keeping the cooking water.
Even if you did short cooking before the freeze, the defrosting process must be carried out in the shortest time possible and never at room temperature so that the development of microbial flora wouldn’t be stimulated. In fact, low temperatures do not kill microorganisms but only inhibit their growth.
Mushrooms prepared in small portions make the freezing process faster and better and can be used directly for cooking. Also, do not overfill food freezers! Do not place hot or room temperature foods in contact with other frozen foods so as not to induce a momentary and partial defrosting of the latter.
You should never refreeze a defrosted food. Therefore the temperature mustn’t rise too high even during the storage period. So, the temperature should not rise above –0.4°F.
Mushrooms in Oil
It is an ancient preservation system that requires a certain familiarity with kitchen tools and which lends itself well to slightly tenacious and low-flavored mushrooms.
Clean the freshly picked mushrooms thoroughly, scratching the stem with a knife and washing them well under running water. Dry them briefly. Cut the mushrooms to a size of about a large walnut.
Add mushrooms to the jar, and pour them with oil, garlic, pepper, juniper, and bay leaf. When the garlic and bay leaves darken, add two-thirds of white vinegar and one-third of water. Add two tablespoons of coarse salt for each liter of liquid.
Boil everything and add the mushrooms slowly so as not to stop boiling. Leave to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let it cool down. When the mushrooms are cold, drain them and leave them on a cloth to dry for a few hours away from dust. Fill the jars for a quarter with oil, and put the mushrooms. Please pay attention to avoid forming air bubbles as much as possible; press gently with a wooden spoon (remember never to use metals).
Close after 12 hours (time to let the air out), after filling with oil, and keep them away from light for at least a month before use.
To flavor the mushrooms, according to the infinite variations of tradition, you can add aromas and spices to the preservation jar, such as bay leaves, thyme, oregano, tarragon, cloves, garlic, marjoram, black pepper, etc. Consume within 12 months.
Note: blanching in vinegar before potting serves to inactivate the enzymes responsible for the degradation of the product.
Dehydrated Mushroom Pulverization
An aromatic powder is obtained from perfectly dried mushrooms by grinding them with a blender or industrial grinder. It can be used without being softened, simply by combining it, towards the end of cooking, with risotto, dips, stews, etc.
As for dried mushrooms, pepper can be added to the product and stored in airtight containers to prevent it from regaining moisture. From a culinary point of view, you can get great results by skilfully mixing some particularly fragrant mushroom varieties.
Sometimes those mushrooms that usually do not lend themselves to drying are traditionally preserved in brine. This system, made with acidified saline solutions, is also used in industrial processes when it is necessary to keep the product for a few weeks while waiting for it to be treated with other methods.
How to use this method? After being washed, the mushrooms are cleaned and blanched in boiling water acidulated with wine vinegar for 5 minutes.
Once drained and dried, they are placed in layers in glass or pottery containers, covering them with a layer of coarse salt. You can add juniper berries, savory, garlic, chili, pepper, and chopped bay leaves to flavor. Afterward, put everything in well-pressed jars, pour oil, and close.
At the time of consumption, separate the mushrooms from the salt, then quickly wash them in warm water and finally cook in various ways.