Mother Earth Mushrooms
Our first stop of the day was Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms, a farm that's been around since 1921 and has been certified organic for the past 21 years. This family owned farm specializes in shiitake, portobello, cremini, and white button mushrooms. It's one of 47 independent growers in Kennett Square.
Traveling though the mushroom houses, owner Tim Hihn gave us a peak into every stage of the mushroom's fascinating life cycle. Compost is made in house from hay and other, well, let's just call it matter taken from nearby horse farms. Into this rich compost go mushroom spawn (i.e. teeny tiny mushrooms) which grow in trays in the dark, damp, and very cool houses.
Looking at tray after tray of these fluorescent-lit tiny mushrooms was like observing the surface of an alien planet. These baby creminis range from pinhead to dime size and are as cute as a...button (mushroom?).
Grown Up Creminis
Here are the full-sized creminis which we sampled straight out the the dirt. Those cellophane-wrapped supermarket mushrooms have nothing on the fresh version. These guys where moist, crisp with a natural, floral quality that had me permanently rethinking my definition of earthy.
Did you know that creminis grow into portobellos if allowed to mature? Mother Earth grows some hulking specimens, giant-sized caps that can weigh in at over three pounds.
The mushrooms that Mother Earth produces are processed on site. This means that they are left with tons of mushroom stems. What to do with all of these cap-less stems? Mother Earth sells their stems to Amy's Organics where they are simmered into cream of mushroom soup.
The Mushroom Cap
Our second stop on this all-day mycological tour was The Mushroom Cap, a combination boutique and museum specializing in all sorts of awesome mushroom related paraphernalia. Stuffed mushrooms of the plush variety, mushroom growing manuals, mushroomy snacks, and mushroom themed patio furniture are just the beginning of The Mushroom Cap's impressive selection. And if you visit, be sure to head to the back for their fantastic mushroom growing dioramas.
Kennett Square Farmers Market
For the freshest mushrooms in all of Mushroom Country head to the Kennett Square Farmers Market on Friday afternoons and make a beeline for Kathi Lafferty's table. She's the proprietress of The Mushroom Cap and carries a gorgeous selection of exotic mushrooms. Puffball, bluefoot, and shiitake are pictured here.
Mushroom Dip at Talula's Table
A reservation for the dinner tasting menu at Kennett Square's Talula's Table needs to be made many months ahead, but their fantastic lunchtime offerings are served up counter service-style. Talula's features a well curated selection of cheeses, crusty house baked breads and more than a few mushroom-centric offerings including an out of this world mushroom dip.