Pink and fleshy with tiers of ruffles spilling out of pint-sized blue produce boxes, nestled between silvery blue and creme oyster mushrooms, this fruiting body of a fungus looks like a beautiful science project rather than a tropical species found in nature. This is what stopped me dead in my tracks at the Wednesday Farmer’s market.
I bought the gorgeous mushrooms from Rob of Deschutes Gourmet Mushrooms and brought them home to cook up a mushroom risotto. Slivers of pink, grey, and white mushrooms adorned tiny pearls of rice.
A few weeks later, I couldn’t get those mushrooms off my mind. So I reached out to Rob, based out of Redmond, OR, to find out how he grows his mushrooms, especially the tropical variety of Pink Oyster mushrooms.
Rob’s Interest in Mushrooms
Rob first got interested in growing mushrooms from a mushroom kit he purchased on Amazon. A little box to grow on the counter; he was fascinated by how they developed.
He furthered his mushroom education studying under the mushroom celebrity, Paul Stamens, who appeared on Ted Talks, “How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.”
Paul’s Ted Talk spoke of the benefits of the Turkey Tail Mushroom, a medicinal mushroom that have types of fungi with compounds to benefit health.
Mushrooms having medicinal properties further interested Rob. Rob says he is always looking for superfoods with antimetastatic properties. “I especially like nutritional superfoods that also taste great. I was drawn to mushrooms for these reasons.”
Rob says his most popular is the oyster mushrooms, everyone likes them, and they are easier to grow (not to mention the gorgeous colors that drew them to me). King Trumpet is unique for a meat substitute, but the Lion’s Mane has been off the charts with the clients to boost immunity, which makes for a very popular mushroom in our current climate.
He likes playing around with different varieties and is looking at the Black Pearl King mushroom, a hybrid between the king and traditional pearl oyster, to add to his offerings.
How Rob Started Growing Mushrooms
Located on two and a half acres, his farm sits between Redmond and Bend along the Deschutes River.
He converted a barn with climate control and a clean lab with 11-inch thick HEPA filters. Rob’s explanation of how he grows his gourmet mushrooms sounds like a science project; taking a liquid culture that comes in a syringe, he sources from online and injects it into a jar. Then he puts grain onto a sawdust block, which is called the production block.
After the production block, they sit for a couple of weeks. Mushrooms are then cultivated indoors on different combinations of sawdust, bran, whole grains, and Avian natural spring water. There, they thrive in the fruiting room, where temperature and humidity are closely monitored. This very efficient approach eliminates waste and lessens water demand.
Rob’s mushrooms are different; they are not grown on manure and compost; they are grown on the wood itself like out in nature, producing better flavor and not so earthy. The size depends on how you cut the bag open. You will get the same amount, but they can grow bigger.
Mushrooms are hand-picked daily before the short journey to Central Oregon local restaurants and the farmers market. You’ll find mushrooms like the pink oyster, which you can’t get in grocery stores because the mushrooms have a short shelf life. Rob provides mushrooms all year long.
Once the farmers market is over, Rob plans to do home deliveries. You can sign up for his newsletter now for more information on how home deliveries will work. “Lot of regulars are happy they won’t have to go through withdrawal once the farmers market ends.”
For more information on Rob’s mushrooms, check out his website https://www.deshrooms.com