...not that we members of the Slow Food Hawai'i Convivium are lazy or anything but you just don't think 'mushrooming' in the wild when you think Hawai'i, although there are edible mushrooms to be found on the island.
(Click on photos to see them larger)
Yesterday morning, 26 members and guests of Slow Food Hawai'i and one member of Slow Food Maui who flew over early in the morning, attended a "Tour and Taste" event at the Hamakua Heritage Mushroom Farm in Laupahoehoe.
In traditional mushroom farms, the mushrooms are grown in caves or dark rooms, in bins filled with soil, compost and fertilizers or manure. These are usually button or portobello varieties. At the Hamakua Mushroom Farm, they grow specialty mushrooms using a Japanese cultivation method in brightly lighted and sterile rooms. The mushrooms grow in plastic bottles filled with a mixture of saw dust, wheat bran and ground up corn cobs. This growing medium is recycled after the mushrooms are harvested and used as compost which is sought out by and sold to landscapers and gardeners. It is given away to school gardens as a community project.
Bob Stanga, a helicopter pilot turned mushroom farmer described how they grow the mushrooms and shared a short video showing the process. At the moment the farm is harvesting about 5,500 pounds of mushrooms a week, or 286,000 pounds a year!
Mushrooms being grown now are the Gray Cluster Oysters, Ali'i, Pioppini, the Hawaiian Pepeiao and lately have been experimenting growing the Abalone mushroom.
We watched a cooking demonstration by Bob and sampled a delicious "Quick & Simple" sauté of mushrooms - he used a combination of Ali'i, Pioppini and Gray Oysters.
Hamakua Mushrooms 'Quick & Simple' Sauté
8 ounces mixed or single variety exotic mushrooms
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced or quartered
Pinch or two of fresh chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon white wine
Salt & pepper to taste
In a broad skillet, heat oil on high. Add mushrooms, stir to coat mushrooms with oil. Add salt, pepper, garlic and white wine. Stir. cook 3-4 minutes, occsionally stirring. Sprinkle with parsley prior to serving.
Serve hot over steak, chicken, fish, rice or pasta.
Bob's wife, Janice, gave us a small tour of their new gift shop where fresh mushrooms are sold in packs as well as their new line of 'value added' products which are made in partnership with other businesses around the island.
Lani Weigert and Kea conducted a tasting of an assortment of the new products that have been developed.
At this time the line includes, Mushroom Brownie Crisps, delicious dark chocolate and ground dried Pioppini mushrooms ; Lavosh made with fresh Pioppini; Mushroom Delight Cookies, made with mushroom powder, macadamia nuts and chocolate; Maitake Mushroom Macha Tea and an assortment of Mushroom Butters with flavors like Liliko'i, Mango and Coconut. The butters can be mixed with Balsamic vinegars for delicious vinaigrettes.
Coming soon are Mushroom Honey, Mushroom Honey Dressing and Mushroom Coffee which is being developed by award winner Rusty's Hawaiian Coffee in Ka'u.
Stay tuned...a cookbook is in the works!
Here is a feature article I shared about the Hamakua Heritage Mushrooms Farm: Janice and Bob Stanga in the April 29 issue of The Hawai'i HomeGrown Food Network Newsletter
For information about product, tours and other events, please contact:
Hamakua Heritage Mushrooms Farm, Inc
36-221 Manowaiopae Homestead Road, Laupahoehoe Hawaii 96764
For information to join a Slow Food Convivium in your area, please visit Slow Food USA, click on Local Chapters and then click on Find a Chapter in your Area to bring down the State List Menu.