Mushrooms are available after dark at the Lake Charles Cash & Carry Farmer’s Market on Tuesday afternoons. At the ALL CAPS gourmet mushroom seller’s booth, Daisy Kerne had carefully and creatively harvested Lion’s Mane, pink oyster mushrooms, blue oyster mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms that had been harvested that day in a basket. It looked like a centerpiece in the dining room.
“My business partner worked in information technology and hated it,” Kerne said. “He told me he had this idea to make money. I have a diploma in horticulture and I started to study it.”
The two bought their first kit in October 2019 and everyone knows what happened in March 2020 – COVID.
“But that was okay,” Kerne said. “We were still learning and it gave us plenty of time to play and experiment.”
She said it’s physically demanding handling 60 10-pound bags a week in an old cypress home in New Iberia, where temperatures and humidity are carefully controlled and a successful harvest isn’t always guaranteed. Still, there is a market for this edible mushroom that is priced higher than the white bud. Lake Charles Cash & Carry Farmers Market
She was right. There were more Cash & Carry shoppers who were aware of the benefits of cooking with gourmet mushrooms and made purchases than those who asked questions.
David Medus stopped by the booth and bought half a pound of blue oyster to bake with butter and tomato and serve with pasta bought from another Cash & Carry seller. He hadn’t made it to the table with the fresh tomatoes and other vegetables. That was next.
dr. Richard Gilmore “loves the idea of shopping locally and trying things that can’t be found in the local supermarket.” He said he would throw his mushrooms in some pasta.
Each mushroom has its own distinct flavor, a deeper, richer flavor than the white button. Blue oyster has been described as having a very subtle seafood flavor with the undertones of licorice or anise. Gourmet mushrooms are generally rich in umami, which is described as a fifth basic taste in addition to sour, sweet, bitter and salty. This fifth flavor was discovered by Japanese scientists and the word translates to savory. Some people say that the pink oyster mushroom tastes like bacon or ham. Chestnut mushrooms have a nutty flavor.
The taste of Lion’s Mane mushrooms has been compared to crab meat and its medicinal uses are being studied.
Kerne said that one of the most popular Lion’s Mane recipes is faux crab cake. She took a piece of Lion’s Mane from her ice chest to show how much a piece looked and textured like a piece of crab.
In addition to gourmet mushrooms, ALL CAPS also sells a special spice mix with dried mushrooms and Lion’s Mane extract.
“Studies have shown that the triterpenes in Lion’s Mane can stimulate nerve regeneration and help improve memory and brain function,” Kerne said.
As for the nutritional value of mushrooms, Kerne said it’s the only product on the aisle with natural vitamin D. Some consider mushrooms a superfood because they may contain medicinal properties — this is still being studied — and they’re also sources of protein. B vitamins, fiber and immune-boosting sugars called beta-glucans.
Faux Crab Cake Recipe
6-8 ounces Lion’s Mane mushrooms
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup panko or breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Direction: 1. Shred Lion’s Mane by hand until it resembles flaked crab. 2. Combine egg, chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce, mayo, mustard, Old Bay, parsley, salt and pepper until well blended. Mix in the grated mushrooms and then the panko or breadcrumbs. 3. Carefully form four crab balls. 4. Heat oil to medium/high in a black iron skillet. Mash the balls into a patty with a spatula and cook for two to three minutes on each side. Squeeze the lemon over it and garnish with parsley.