“Where are the mushroom guys?!” Market staff hear this question nearly every week at the Market Information Booth now that word has gotten around that culinary mushrooms have made their long-awaited return to the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.
Eager mushroom appreciators make a beeline to the booth to see the colorful displays of fungi with hopes of securing their pick of the tasty offerings.
Juan de Fuca Fungus is the farm behind these culinary delights. Market fans recognize Logan Hart from the 2020 season, when he introduced his line of mushrooms as Gunogan Fungus.
This season, Hart has teamed up with co-owner Luke Towns to increase the presence of their fantastic fungi on dinner tables throughout Sequim.
Towns has a decade-long background in permaculture design and culinary work. He says that jumping onboard this mushroom operation was a departure from his previous gigs, but that his experience set him up nicely to head the five-person operation alongside Hart.
Juan de Fuca Fungus expects a variety of mushrooms to make an appearance at the market this season, from a striking array of oyster mushrooms in dazzling shades of deep black, rich grey, shining gold and bright pink to chestnuts, pheasant backs and lion’s mane.
Hart is aware that many shoppers are most familiar with the varieties of mushrooms commonly found in grocery stores.
“White buttons, creminis and portobellos are all basically the same mushroom with the same flavor and texture,” he says. “Each variety we grow has different textures and they really stand out from one another.”
“I tell people that the oyster mushrooms resemble seafood,” Hart continues. “The lion’s mane can be slowly cooked into a pulled pork substitute with a mild, nutty flavor.”
“You can use our mushrooms pretty much any way that you could use a white mushroom,” says Towns. “We were making pizza last night with them! Soup, sauté, they all cook pretty similarly.”
Towns says that one of the main differences in the mushrooms they grow is the higher moisture content.
“Dry sautéing is a great way to go; you can cook them for a lot longer than conventional mushrooms because they don’t disintegrate in the pan quite as fast,” he says. “The distinct texture is really an advantage culinarily.”
The team says that cooking with their mushrooms will pack more flavor into your dish every time.
Towns suggests adding them to your cream-based soups, like chowders, or using them in place of meat or tofu. He also shares that they fit in well in assorted vegetable medleys like stir-fries or pan roasts.
Hart says he likes to use them as a topping or a side, stir-frying them to bring out the flavor and putting them on a protein like a burger or chicken.
The duo says they love the intricacies of their work.
“Culinarily, I’ve always been interested in mushrooms,” says Towns. “Now being able to produce them is super exciting.”
“It’s more like raising an animal in a way,” continues Towns. “You have to feed them, keep them warm, all that kind of stuff.”
Those curious to give growing their own mushrooms a try will be delighted to learn that Juan de Fuca Fungus is also offering mushroom growing kits this season.
Each kit comes with a three-pound block of a fully colonized substrate.
By giving a kit light, moisture and oxygen, you’ll see your first oyster mushrooms within a week of bringing your kit home. Hart and Towns are also on hand at the market to dole out helpful tips so you can make the most of your mushroom harvests at home.
“We have a lot of fun at the farmers market,” says Hart. “We see a lot of familiar faces. A lot of people come back to see us.”
There’s no doubt about it, mushrooms are very popular at the market. Towns attributes this to the reputation the region has for growing superior mushrooms.
“Mushrooms are one of the first things people think about food-wise when they think about the Pacific Northwest,” he says.
“It’s that iconic. They’re a novelty because they’re not common or particularly easy to produce.”
“There is already a fan base that lives here,” adds Hart. “It’s pretty cool.”
Juan de Fuca Fungus is at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. through October. Visit your community market at Sequim Civic Center Plaza at North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street.
Want more market updates? Be sure to tune in on Thursday at 4 p.m. to KSQM 91.5 FM for the live radio “Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Update.”
Emma Jane Garcia is the director for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.
Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market
Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 30
Location: Sequim Civic Center Plaza and Centennial Place, downtown Sequim
More info: email@example.com
On the web: sequimmarket.com