Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms has been family owned & operated since 1919. The fourth and fifth generations of the Yeatman family are currently in ownership and are in key positions throughout the company. Although originally purchased as a dairy farm, over the years the family added several mushroom houses. In the late 1950’s, mushrooms began to explode in popularity and the family decided to focus solely on growing mushrooms.
Mother Earth Organics currently operates 53 growing houses throughout southern Chester County in West Grove, Oxford, and Landenberg. In these growing houses mushrooms are harvested by hand each day. Skilled harvesters carefully select mushrooms by size and quality to ensure they are harvested at the optimum time. Mother Earth has been certified organic since 1990.
3 Practices For Growing Great Mushrooms
1. Growing Organically
“The greatest challenge we face growing organic mushrooms is pest control. We use no chemical pesticides or insecticides in our houses. To help with this issue we rely on natural resources such as peppermint oil, climate control, and neem tree oil. We have found a balance with nature where the pests are able to survive at a manageable level.”
2. It’s All About Healthy Soil
“Mushrooms are grown indoors in block buildings where temperatures can be strictly regulated throughout the growing cycle. They are grown in raised wooden “beds” that are filled with organic compost comprised of raw materials including straw, corn cobs, & cotton seeds. The compost provides the nutrients necessary for the mushrooms to grow. Spawn is added to the compost to begin the growth of mushrooms “roots,” and later a layer of pasteurized peat moss is applied to aid in the watering of the mushrooms.”
3. Knowing the Life Cycle
“The entire growing cycle takes approximately 10 weeks. Once the mushrooms begin to take form as small ‘pins’ they grow to full size in 12 days. During harvesting a mushroom can double in size overnight! After they’re harvested, the beds are emptied and the entire house is steam sterilized before the process begins again.”
Types of Mushrooms
- White Button: This varieties mild flavor is very versatile and goes well with almost any dish – raw or cooked.
- Portabello Mushrooms: A long growing cycle gives a rich and robust flavor with meaty texture.
- Baby Bellas: Naturally dark caps and a meaty, earthy flavor distinguish these from the white button mushroom.
- Shiitake: Characterized by broad, umbrella shaped caps and an earthy flavor and firm texture.
How to Store and Clean Your Mushrooms
Mushrooms should be kept refrigerated and stored in brown paper bags. The paper bag helps to absorb unwanted moisture, even mushrooms that are packaged should be stored like this after they are opened to retain freshness for 4-5 days. Use a damp towel to wipe each mushroom, one at a time, to remove any dirt. Lightly rinse the mushrooms with cool water and pat dry with paper towels, but do not soak the mushrooms. Because they absorb water like sponges, mushrooms won’t brown nicely when cooked if they are full of water.
Yeatman Family Pickled Mushrooms
What You’ll Need:
- 10 lbs. small mushrooms washed
- 3 large onions sliced ½ tsp. tarragon
- 3 C. salad oil 3 tbsp. salt
- 4 C. white vinegar 1 tbsp. pepper
- 6 cloves garlic 8 tbsp. sugar
- 12 sterilized pint jars with lids and rings
- Place all ingredients in a large pot and boil
- Skim off foam
- Quickly pour into sterilized jars and seal
- Makes about 12 pints
Quotations, photographs and recipe provided by Joanna Parrett of Mother Earth Organics.