Juliette Coldreck believes we should all be eating more mushrooms grown on logs.
“Most commercial farms grow them on straw blocks,” she says. “But wild mushrooms or log-grown shitakes are very different. They have twice the protein. Twice the fiber. They’re this great, dense, nutritional food.” They taste damn good, too. At Wabi Sabi Mushroom Farm in Arundel, Coldreck uses large oak logs cut from a family woodlot as the growing grounds for her shitakes. After cutting the logs and inoculating them with spores from Field & Forest in Wisconsin (recognized by MOFGA organic), Coldreck covers the logs with beeswax and returns them to the woods. “Come spring, we take them out of the woods and we start soaking them,” she says. “We have a constant rotation of logs soaking and logs in the greenhouse.”
Coldreck learned how to grow shitakes some 20 years ago, but until 2014, mushroom farming remained a hobby. “About
a year and a half ago, my stepfather and I were talking. We’ve both always wanted to start a farm, and we thought mushrooms would be a good rst step.”
Turns out, fungi are an up-and-coming crop in Maine. “Southern Maine is becoming this cool little hotbed of mushroom farms,” Coldreck says. “But what sets us apart is how we grow them.”
Her organically grown mushrooms hold up in stir-fries and pair well with pastas, thanks to their fibrous texture. “There’s a time and a place for all kinds of mushrooms,” she adds. “But you know when you go to a grocery store and you get a bright red tomato? It doesn’t taste like the purple ugly ones from the farm.”
Katy Kelleher is a writer and editor who lives in a small house in Portland with two dogs and one husband.