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Hillcroft Mushrooms is situated in Bay View, Hawkes Bay and organically grow shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Established in 2010 , Jane and Bruce produce a high value, quality product that suits their scale of production. Last year they worked on fine tuning their production in order to go organic and to create a larger growing system to cope with demand as well as to work on growing more varieties that we hope to see in the future.

Their oyster mushrooms are grown on a substrate growing medium of pasteurised organically certified straw. This is inoculated with their own oyster mushroom spawn which is produced in their our laboratory using vigorous strains for the best results. The straw and grain spawn are mixed and packed into round growing bags that under the exact right conditions of high humidity, light, and air flow, the fruit bodies begin to burst through pre-cut slits in the bags in 16-18 days.

The shiitake mushrooms require a far longer cycle of approximately 60 days from inoculation to fruiting and a more involved one at that that changes depending on their growth. The shiitake mushrooms are grown on a substrate of wood chip and sawdust blocks that are enriched with wheat bran and gypsum. The blocks must go through a sterilisation process in their purpose built steam pressure sterilisers which kill the spores from moulds, bacteria and other competing fungi. Once cooled the blocks are inoculated with their own grain spawn. The blocks then require a set of growing conditions that vary according to the stages of development of the shiitake culture. Fruit bodies are ready for picking at approximately 60 days.

Bruce and Jane suggest using their delicious and very beautiful mushrooms in a few ways- torn or chopped shiitake can be added to hot canola or olive oil and stir fried until most of the moisture has evaporated and surface browning occurs. This brings out a distinctive meaty umami flavour. Shiitake is also commonly used in soups and broths. The shiitake can be thinly sliced and steeped for a few minutes in a chicken or miso broth. The quick cooking adds a distinct tart flavour to the soup. Shiitake can also be grilled or baked. The stalks are removed and the gills can be basted with tamari sauce and sesame oil. Bake or grill whole with gills facing up. Oyster mushrooms are commonly lightly stir fried and added to a range of dishes: pork, lamb, fish or vegetarian to enhance flavour.

We have to admit that the taste of these organically grown and very well cared for mushrooms really shows in their taste-much fuller in flavour and a great texture. We are so pleased to have Bruce and Jane’s mushrooms on offer now at Farro Fresh at $8.99 per biodegradable tray.

Pick up a recipe and try some fresh and delicious Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms over the weekend!