Mushrooms are our passion, a love we inherited at an early age. Today we want to spread and share that passion with as many people as possible over the world. Encourage them to taste and experience how delicious, healthy and natural our mushrooms are. A food that perfectly complements today’s lifestyle aspirations. Based on our expertise we also continually develop new, clever product concepts designed to entice a growing group of consumers to discover the delights of mushrooms.
“To grow mushrooms, you have to artificially replicate the climatic conditions found in autumn. Successful mushroom growing depends on providing the right substrate and nutrients, optimal humidity and temperature control and of course, passion for the mushrooms themselves.”
A mushroom can technically be described as the spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. That may not sound particularly appealing, but it is correct. Under natural conditions, mushrooms thrive by feeding off organic material; for example, dead tree trunks. In fact, you could call mushrooms natural scavengers. A mushroom is a fungus. The common or button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is the best known edible variety of mushroom in Europe. The familiar mushrooms we see on sale in the shops do not grow in the wild like field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris). They are cultivated by professional growers, equipped with all the knowledge and skill to carefully nurture the mushrooms to create a delicious food for us to enjoy.
Mushrooms reproduce through spores. A mushroom is capable of producing and dispersing billions of spores. These spores produce thin, finely branching threads which are called mycelium. We refer to this as mushroom spawn (a substance– or carrier – like grain that has been inoculated with mycelium).
The compost used as a substrate for mushroom growing consists of a special mixture of straw-rich horse manure, straw, chicken manure and gypsum. Mixing these ingredients in the right proportions will result in fresh compost. The resulting compost is then pasteurised to make it suitable for mushroom growing.
Grains inoculated with mushroom spawn are then mixed through the pasteurised compost. This spawn develops finely branching fungal threads (mycelium). After a few weeks the compost is completely colonised by this mycelium and is ready for delivery to the mushroom farm.
A mushroom farm comprises a number of growing rooms. A growing room is a hermetically sealed room that contains four to five tiers of beds (shelving) on both sides of an access aisle. The beds are filled with compost, then covered by a layer of casing soil (a type of peat). The mycelium continues to grow upwards from the compost through the layer of casing soil.
Approximately three days after filling, the grower initiates a significant climate change in the growing rooms. The compost temperature is reduced from 27° C to 20° C over a period of two to three days. High volumes of fresh air are introduced into the growing room and the humidity drops sharply. This effectively creates autumn conditions in the growing room. This change in the ambient climate is necessary to stimulate the natural process of mushroom development. Influenced by this climate change, the mycelium grows through the upper layer of casing and starts to form small pinheads that will develop into mushrooms. The response of the mycelium is natural as it wants to reproduce before the cold winter sets in. The mushrooms will in turn produce more spores (a kind of seed) which the mycelium uses to reproduce.
About three weeks after the beds have been filled and cased, the first crop – or flush – of mushrooms can be harvested. A week later the second flush appears on the beds. Two flushes of white mushrooms are usually harvested in a cropping cycle. Brown chestnut mushrooms are sometimes harvested in three flushes.
All mushrooms destined for the fresh market are picked by hand by trained pickers.
There are countless other varieties of edible mushrooms in addition to the white variety. The demand for these ‘exotic mushrooms’ has been increasing for years driven by the growing trend for natural, healthy food. In response, Banken Champignons offers the widest range of exotic mushroom varieties worldwide.
There are basically two types of exotic mushrooms:
Exotic mushroom varieties, for example oyster mushrooms or shiitake, are either cultivated commercially in the Netherlands or imported. These mushrooms are grown on pasteurised substrate (a growing medium). The composition of this compost differs to that used to grow common mushrooms. Sawdust is one of the ingredients used to make substrate suitable for cultivated exotic mushrooms.
After pasteurisation, the substrate is inoculated with special spawn. Plastic bags or bottles are then filled with this substrate, and left for mushroom development to begin. Just like common mushrooms, exotic mushrooms are picked by hand. Some of these varieties, such as oyster mushrooms, grow in clusters.
Some varieties of edible mushrooms are gathered in the wild because they are very difficult to grow under commercial conditions. These are generally the varieties that grow on trees or bark; so-called mycorrhiza-formers. The best-known mushrooms gathered in the wild are ceps, truffles and chanterelles.
These mushrooms are picked in autumn. To secure year-round deliveries, we follow the seasons and source our mushrooms from the part of world where autumn is at that moment.
The harvested mushrooms are graded and selected for quality in accordance with customer specifications before they are transported in refrigerated vehicles to Banken. Depending on the season, the Banken Champignons range offers dozens of different forest mushrooms.
Mushrooms are a trending topic in the food world and perfectly complement the trend for healthy and natural diets. Why? The main reason is that mushrooms are simply packed with healthy, beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin B2, folic acid, potassium and fibres. They are also very low in calories. This makes them ideal ingredients in a healthy eating pattern.
Mushrooms have a firm texture, are nutritious and contain a host of vitamins In addition, mushrooms count among the few fruit and vegetables that are naturally rich in plant-based proteins, making them the ideal substitute for the animal-based proteins found in meat. .
Mushrooms are a great source of nutrients and contain high levels of protein and sufficient vitamin B1. Do you want to ring the changes and try something different instead of lettuce, spinach or cabbage? What about mushrooms? Just as healthy, just as tasty, but still a little bit different….