While in sunny California this past week for the Produce Marketing Association Showcase, we had the pleasure of visiting Monterey Mushrooms for a tour.
The Watsonville, CA farm is one of ten for the company, and is the largest mushroom farm in the United States. Monterey Mushrooms is a huge operation, currently have captured almost half the market share for mushrooms in the United States. Chances are, you have seen their logo in foodservice and retail packaging.
We were warmly greeted upon arrival and circled around their outdoor pavilion overlooking their vast operation. The staff reviewed their product mix including conventionally grown white and brown mushrooms, organically grown specialty mushrooms, and even processed mushroom mixes. We were treated to blended mushroom meatballs during this information session (and boy were they delicious!). Adding ground mushrooms to ground beef is a great way to stretch your food cost dollars and not sacrifice flavor, mushrooms are packed with umami! Bonus, you end up with a tender and moist end result, too.
How mushrooms are grown
The staff walked us through the growing process from start to finish. The compost is created on site using a medium with specific elements and gases like nitrogen. The beds are packed with this compost and moved to the pasteurization room. After pasteurization, the beds are inoculated with seed spore and taken to the spawning room for 10-12 days. The beds are checked daily to ensure growth has begun before being moved to the growing room.
We were brought to one of the active growing rooms on site to learn more. Our tour guide explained that the mushrooms in the growing room beds will expand one-fourth of an inch every four hours. (read that again!)
The beds are constantly maintained by their pickers to ensure the varieties meet specifications. A tenured picker can select up to 80 pounds of mushrooms in an hour which equates to 40 mushrooms per minute! After the beds have maxed their picks (two picks for organic and three picks for conventional) they are brought to the “kill” room to be sterilized. The sterilized compost is then bagged and made available to local farmers to use for their crops.
We enjoyed our time of the farm and want to thank Monterey Mushrooms for a great tour!
Images and blog post contributed by Kalli Le Jeune, Contract Sales Manager-Customer Development for FreshPoint, Inc.
For more information about Monterey Mushrooms, please visit their web site.
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