Here is a sneak peak at my newest posting for the Villager – all about my tour of the Contiental Mushroom Farm! Enjoy…

Mushrooms are one of my all time favourite vegetables. Though technically a fungi and not a vegetable, they are amazing in everything from quiche to soup to a toping for BBQ steak.

In Ontario there are 5 major producers of mushrooms, 4 in Southern Ontario and the fifth in Metcalfe. Continental Mushrooms has been in business since the 70’s and produces almost 11 million pounds of mushrooms per year for the Ottawa/Gatineau and Montreal markets.

I recently toured the Continental Mushroom farm and was amazed to discover how little I actually knew about the farming of mushrooms. At Continental, mushrooms are grown in dimly lit, growing houses that are 3 levels high. Each bed that the mushrooms grow in are filled with 2/3 compost and the final 1/3 is peat moss. Over 14 tonnes of mushrooms are picked, cleaned, packaged and shipped on a daily basis. But what is even more impressive is that for every mushroom that is picked, there are 10 underneath it waiting to grow in its place.

Continental specializes in white button mushrooms and cremini mushrooms which have a similar look and taste, but are brown skinned and do not shrink when you cook them. One of the best tips I picked up the day of my tour was how to tell the freshness of your mushroom.

Step 1 – Remove the mushroom stem
Step 2 – Look inside at the gills, which is the coloured part located just under the mushroom cap. Peel back some of the cap if need be to get a better look at the colour.

When fresh, the gills of a mushroom will be a light baby pink. As the mushroom ages it will become darker until it is a brownish black. The change takes place quickly and has run the full spectrum in roughly a week.

The second tip I learned was that you can, in fact freeze mushrooms. Though they are roughly 80% water, if you wipe them clean with a damp cloth, then place them in a paper bag you can freeze them for up to 2 months.

For anyone interested in a tour, you can call Continental Mushroom at 613.821.1411 to set up a time. Or visit www.continentalmushroom.ca for more information.  There are also some great deals to be had purchasing mushrooms directly from the farm. 

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