MINNEAPOLIS - We're here along the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis where they're growing mushrooms in a big concrete warehouse. Raised just two miles from a warehouse turned agricultural gem, Ian Silver-Ramp of Mississippi Mushrooms is the go-to guy for mushrooms in his hometown.
"I studied agriculture at the University of Minnesota and worked in the forest pathology lab as a student. And my interest just kind of mushroomed from there!" he jokes.
So how does one go about growing mushrooms in a setting like this?
"So the first thing you do is you mix the substrate," begins Silver-Ramp.
Hold on. Let's explain substrate.
He explains, "This is a mixture of Cottonwood and Oak sawdust. This is ash. We have it ground really fine. And this is mustard seed chaff. We also use spent brewers grain. Those are our four ingredients we use to grow mushrooms. And they are all waste products."
Waste products meaning he's taking stuff that no one wants and putting it to good use. Ok, back to the process.
"Then you sterilize the substrate to kill all pathogens and contaminants. Then you inoculate the substrate with the fungus. Then you allow it to colonize and incubate and that's what you see happening here. That takes about three weeks and then we move into the growing rooms and each mushroom will take three to six weeks to go through the growing cycle," says Silver-Ramp
An app controls the temperature, carbon dioxide, humidity, lights and air movement in four different growing rooms, all critical to optimal growth.
"So we are looking at some nameko mushrooms here... really tasty, really crunchy and pretty hard to find. So we're one of if not the only supplier of this mushroom locally," he says, showing Bobby and me around a growing room.
Want to eat them? Snag a reservation at Bar La Grassa, Cafe Ena, Spoon and Stable, Bellecour or Young Joni among other eateries around town. Or cook them up yourself! They're available at several Twin Cities Co-ops (East Side Co-op, Linden Hills Co-op, Wedge, Seward Co-ops, Mississippi Markets). You can also get them straight from the source, plus get a quick tour Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.