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s o u r c i n g

 

 
 

"...highest commitment to quality with the lowest environmental impact".

While we at Multnomah Farms are excited by this growing mushroom fervor, we also know that it is a call to duty for us, a moment where it is more important than ever for us to embrace and model responsible methods of hunting and harvest. We choose our partners with care, developing relationships with those foragers and cultivators that demonstrate the highest commitment to quality with the lowest environmental impact.

 We also specialize in single-origin mushrooms. Each bag of mushrooms that you receive will be specific to one region or farm in the Pacific Northwest so you can taste the impact of terroir in every bite of your next mushroom dish.

 

F o r a g i n g

 

 
 
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You may not know it, but evidence of mycophagy, the practice of eating mushrooms, dates back to ancient times. The earliest physical evidence on record belongs to a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer whose remains were discovered in 2010. Studies of the hardened plaque of the “Red Lady of El Mirón” revealed the inclusion of both boletus and agaricus mushrooms in her final meals. By 400 BC, mushroom foraging had become widespread in Europe. In fact, mushrooms evolved to signal wealth and class for ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It wasn’t uncommon amongst these Mediterranean cultures to refer to mushrooms as “sons of the gods,” “food of the gods,” or with other praise-laden phrases. The Greeks and the Romans did begin to cultivate mushrooms on a small-scale at this time, but mushrooms consumed were still, by and large, wild foraged...

While references to the coveted mushroom are many, less common are those to their foragers—the experienced few who were knowledgeable and trustworthy enough to bring back these culinary rarities from the forests beyond. The methods and magic of mushroom hunting have largely been passed down by families from generation to generation. It’s not until the last couple of decades that foraging in general has been recognized as an important element in the growing movement towards farm to table foods, sustainable living, and healthy alternatives.

 
 
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— Jonathan L.

 The Pacific Northwest is home to 5,000 different types of wild mushrooms. In Oregon, we are home to the largest one in the world! It’s no surprise that we have seen a remarkable spike in both recreational and commercial mushroom hunting in our beautiful home state of Oregon.

 While there are stylistic nuances and geographic preferences that vary from one forager to the next, all mushroom hunting excursions include a knife for cutting away stems, and baskets, mesh bags, or paper grocery bags in which to store this precious fungi without restricting movement and airflow. Backpacks, water, breathable clothing and reliable footwear go without saying in the often damp and mountainous regions where mushrooms live.

 Foraging etiquette can vary from forager to forager, but more experienced foragers generally limit their picking to mature mushrooms (that have already released their spores). They also tend to leave a few younger mushrooms behind in their favorite patches, knowing that they too will eventually release new spores. These two rules of thumb help to sustain the growth of wild mushrooms into the future.

 

 

C u l t i v a t i n g

 

 
 

It’s most likely that mushrooms were first cultivated in Asia around the year 600 AD. In the west, there is evidence of Greek and Roman cultivation, but it was not nearly as pronounced as French cultivation, which caught on in the early 18th century. The French became leaders in large-scale cultivation, focusing on white button mushrooms, the so-called champignons de Paris.

Mushrooms eventually spread to Britain where French cuisine signaled the highest level of sophistication and class. It’s relevance to diplomacy is likely the reason behind its exposure to the U.S.,  where mushrooms rose to fame in the greenhouse flowerbeds of two Quakers in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. By 1914, 85% of all cultivated mushrooms in the country came from Kennett Square. Now, a century later, fresh cultivated mushrooms are available in most supermarkets, and many people are learning to grow them at home.

Mushroom cultivation takes place in more than 100 countries, but the same general principles apply. Most specialty mushroom cultivation starts with a clean source of wood. Sawdust and woodchips are quite common. A grower may boost its nutritional value and the coming mushrooms’ quality and yield with the addition of supplements like wheat bran, soybean hulls or soya meal. All of these materials, along with water that is added to effect a certain moisture, undergo a rigorous sterilization process. Fungi can be fiercely competitive, so it’s important to eliminate any other organisms that may have snuck in to the substrate.

Actively growing mushroom cultures are added to inoculate the mix. It is then added to plastic bags and shaped into cube-like blocks that can be easily arranged. For the next several days, weeks, or months, depending on the species of mushroom, the mushroom cultures or mycelium slowly colonize each block in a dark room. Following the appropriate incubation period, the colonized blocks are then exposed to light, just as they would be in nature, to activate or “fruit.” The organisms we recognize as mushrooms then grow out of the blocks through small holes in the plastic made by the cultivator. Mushrooms may need to be harvested multiple times a day after this fruiting period to ensure that the highest quality mushrooms are picked.

 

 

t r u f f l e s

 

 
 

 Truffles, one of the most expensive and sought after mushrooms in nature, originated from the Latin word tuber, meaning “outgrowth” or “lump.”  Aptly named, truffles are generally round, yet wart-like and irregular in shape, ranging from the size of a walnut to a human fist. They are ectomycorrhizal fungi, which means that they form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of other plant species like chestnut, oak, hazel, and beech trees. The truffle passes water and nutrients in the soil along to the tree, while the tree in turn gives the fungus sugars from photosynthesis.

While there are several different kinds of truffles that have been found in Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East, the three most sought after species include the black or Perigord truffle, the summer truffle, and the burgundy truffle.

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Like many rare foods, truffles have seen their share of ups and downs throughout history. The first references to them date back to Neo-Sumerian inscriptions about an enemy’s eating habits circa the 20th century BC. They enjoyed high status from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, but later fell from grace in the Middle Ages, when churches associated their exotic nature with the devil. Fortunately for truffles, the Renaissance came along and prevailing opinions began to shift. King Louis XIV of France made truffles an official “in” food, a sentiment that echoed throughout the 1700s and into the 1800s when they were successfully cultivated for the first time.

Truffles reached peak production in 1890 with a European harvest of 2,200 tons. Within a few decades however, production plummeted due to the destruction of land, labor, and generational knowledge in World War I, and the mass end of many truffle orchards’ life cycles (they last about 30 years). The last 30 years have seen many efforts to reignite cultivation efforts, but supply still far exceeds demand. This is a principal reason why Multnomah Farms is committed to dedicating a portion of its lands to on-site truffle cultivation.

The mutually beneficial relationship between a truffle and host tree resembles that of most fungi, so creating a successful truffiere, or truffle orchard, is all about giving the truffles a competitive advantage. According to Multnomah Farms truffle advisor, Dr. Charles LeFevre, President and Founder of New World Truffieres, Inc., this consists of three key steps: site selection, planting inoculated seeds, and creating soil conditions that closely match a truffle’s unique preferences.

Though it's tempting to apply the motto “more is more” to the cultivation of such a delicious and rare crop as truffles, it’s counterproductive. When planning an orchard of this kind, one should be careful to not to overcrowd trees, as this could be directly detrimental to the truffle’s health, and/or encourage growth of other competing fungi. It’s much harder for other species to establish themselves on roots that are already colonized, so planting already inoculated species give the truffles a running head start over neighboring mushrooms. Interestingly, truffles enjoy rather acidic soil with a pH between 7.5 and 8.3, but ideally 7.9. Dr. LeFevre recommends taking the time to test the soil and correct any imbalances and nutrient deficiencies before planting. In North American soils, lime is a frequent additive to help boost pH.

About 3 to 5 years after planting, burnt patches in the soil should appear, under which truffles lie in wait. They can be harvested annually with a production lifetime ranging from 20-30 years in hazelnut orchards and up to 50 years in the case of oak orchards.

 

S p e c i e s

 

 
 
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Species

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Morel

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Shiitake

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Species

Donec ullamcorper nulla non metus auctor fringilla. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Aenean eu leo quam. Pellentesque ornare sem lacinia quam venenatis vestibulum.

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Truffle

Donec ullamcorper nulla non metus auctor fringilla. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Aenean eu leo quam. Pellentesque ornare sem lacinia quam venenatis vestibulum.

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Oyster

Donec ullamcorper nulla non metus auctor fringilla. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Aenean eu leo quam. Pellentesque ornare sem lacinia quam venenatis vestibulum.

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H i s t o r y

 

 
 
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— Stephen Price, Forager, Oregon

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Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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