Mushrooms at the Farmers Market


Finding Mushrooms at the Farmers Market

Mushrooms are one of the few vegetables you may see year round at the farmers markets in Baltimore. Since mushrooms are easily grown indoors with minimal energy inputs, they are available fresh all the time.

Half of the mushrooms in America are actually local to Baltimore, grown in the small town of Kennett Square, PA, just over the border of Maryland. That means they are certainly going to be fresh and have a small transportation footprint.

Yet buying mushrooms at the farmers markets can be even better! For starters, my local mushrooms come in paper bags, not plastic trays, which is better for the mushrooms and the environment. I can get different varieties of mushrooms, and I can also get the supplies to grown my own.

Buying mushrooms at the farmers market means you can talk with the farmer about the best ways to use the mushrooms. You can ask about how they are grown. You know they are the freshest possible.

You can also look into growing your own! Since mushrooms are grown in dark conditions with controlled temperatures and humidity, anyone can grow their own inside.

Types of Mushrooms at the Farmers Market

Finding mushrooms at the farmers market means you find different varieties than you would at the store. Many types of edible mushrooms can be cultivated, and you can grow your own or buy them already grown. Different farmers grow different types!

Standard button mushrooms, the kind you find most often at the grocery store, are called Creminis. They come in white and brown, and the brown ones are a bit firmer and have a bit more flavor. Ninety percent of the mushrooms we eat are white buttons.

As Cremini mushrooms grow, they get bigger and become Portobello mushrooms. If you buy “Baby Portobellos” they are simply the button mushrooms, just bigger.

Portobello mushrooms are dense and rich, and are often used as meat substitutes. They are earthy and great for grilling and stuffing.

Other familiar mushrooms you may find are Oysters and Shiitakes. Oysters are good in stir fries or can be used in dishes you might use button mushrooms in.

Shiitakes come from Asia, and are used in many Asian dishes. Cooked, they are buttery and rich. You can eat them raw but the flavor is better cooked. They are great in stir fries, soups, pasta and pizza.

Some of the unfamiliar mushrooms at the farmers market may include Wine Caps, Lion’s Mane, Chestnuts and Maitakes.

Wine Cap mushrooms are wine colored on top when young. They are crisp when cooked, with a nutty flavor with hints of potatoes and red wine. They are great in soups and grilled.

Lion’s Mane mushrooms claim many health benefits, and are delicious options to try. When cooked, they are juicy, delicate, and meaty. Some say they taste like seafood.

Chestnut mushrooms are another variety of white button mushrooms. They, like creminis, are brown on top. They are denser and have more flavor than creminis.

Maitake mushrooms are feathery looking mushrooms, with an earthy, peppery flavor. Called Hen of the Woods, they are best cooked before eating.

You may see other types of mushrooms available locally. Talk to your mushroom farmer for ideas on how to cook each type!

Cooking with Mushrooms

Store your fresh mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge, or as a single layer in a container with the lid open. They should last a week or so.

Mushrooms can be delicious additions to many dishes. Since they can be grown year round, it’s worth learning many recipes to use them in. Trying each type will let you know which ones you prefer and how you like them cooked.

Mushrooms can be added to lots of dishes. They shine on their own, sauteed as a side dish, or can be added to a vegetable mix in a stir fry or hearty soup. Mushrooms can be roasted with meat, added to gravy, and are used in many Asian dishes.

Add mushrooms to sauces and pizza. Add them raw or cooked to pizzas and salads. Pickled Mushrooms are a delicious snack.

Though mushrooms don’t last long fresh, you can easily freeze them for cooking later.

Dried mushrooms and fresh mushrooms have different tastes and textures. A rehydrated dried mushroom will create a delicious broth, offer a stronger flavor, and are wetter than fresh. The previously dried mushrooms are best for cooking.

Mushrooms can add a meaty flavor to many dishes, and pair well with many flavor options. Whether stuffing, grilling, or adding to soups and stews, mushrooms can be added to many dishes!

Growing your Own Mushrooms

One of the huge advantages of mushrooms at the farmers market is that they sell them fresh and also often the plugs to grow your own at home. You can find mushroom plugs, or whole kits. You also can speak directly with the farmer to learn more about growing your own.

Anyone can grow their own mushrooms at home. Since they are grown inside and only take a few weeks to grow, they are an easy way to learn to grow food at home. They are fun to watch grow too!

Growing mushrooms is a low commitment way to see if you enjoy the process! Buying a mushroom kit locally is a quick way to try your hand at indoor farming.

You may find yourself a new hobby. Dead wood, cardboard, coffee grounds, they all can be potential mushroom substrates.

Mushrooms are being used to clean up toxic sites and for medicine. There is a lot we don’t know about mushrooms, and learning about them is fascinating.

Visit your local mushroom farmer at the market. Try a new recipe with the freshest mushrooms around!

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