Shroom Brothers combine wild foraging, creative flair and a real love of the craft and science behind mushroom cultivation to bring something truly special to market. At Suncoast Fresh we have been proud to have Shroom Brothers supply us with gourmet mushrooms for around three years. You’ll also regularly find their stall at the Mullumbimby markets – a venue that is well accustomed to the gourmet products that Shroom Brothers has on offer.
The “Shroom Brothers” moniker reflects the two brothers behind the name, Abel and Andrew, however Shroom Brothers is a whole family affair who take it in turns to harvest mushrooms twice a day, seven days a week. There’s been a long learning curve along the way, as the team test and trial which strains work in certain environments and discover new flavour profiles for different occasions and tastes.
The duo’s main commercial mushrooms are white, pink, yellow and blue oyster mushrooms, each with their own flavour profile. The siblings say that Australians in general have taken a while to jump on board with gourmet mushrooms, much like when button mushrooms were first introduced to restaurants and supermarkets.
Chestnut mushrooms, also referred to as cinnamon top mushrooms, are just about to hit the market. They’re a special kind of mushroom which takes double the time to incubate and take over the substrate. They’re finnicky too, often prone to disease and sensitive to environmental changes. If they get any part of the process wrong, the entire harvest will fail. It’s the main reason why most mushroom farms don’t try to grow chestnut shrooms – a challenge that Shroom Brothers has gladly take on.
Not many types of wild mushrooms can grow here in Australia due to the types of wood available. While Shiitake mushrooms grow well on (usually imported) oak logs, and common button mushrooms simply require a damp, well ventilated area, many wild mushrooms require special environments to prosper.
A large number of commercial mushroom growers buy their spawn from suppliers, but Shroom Brothers are one of the only farms in Australia who clone, make the sub spawn, make the substrate and the bag. Having complete control over their own product allows them to fine-tune the final result. It’s been a labour of love, taking them three years to reach commercial standards, but the end result has been worth it.
The idea of walking into your own backyard to pick mushrooms here in Australia is non-existent. Abel can recall time where his Russian grandmother would pick wild mushrooms daily to feature in whatever cuisine she was creating. In some ways, the way Shroom Brothers conduct their business feels like a throw-back to the old wild ways, with a focus on sustainability, child-like wonder and variety of mushrooms.
In addition to their family experience, the Shroom Brothers team also apply medical knowledge and a desire to deliver something fresh to market. As a registered nurse, Abel is interested in the medicinal properties of mushrooms. His profession has added well to the lab work, infection control and microbiology with growing mushrooms that are not only delicious and versatile, but also nutritious.
All mushrooms are considered medicinal, but with large manufacturers, the mushroom loses a lot of its nutritional benefit with the way that they’re grown. Commercial mushrooms are grown on manure which is sprayed heavily with fungicides to kill whatever is in the manure. Naturally this is then absorbed into the mushroom.
Shroom brothers use a combination of straw, hardwood and coffee (yes, coffee!) to grow all their mushroom blends. All enjoy different strains, so finding the right combination for each mushroom is important. The coffee acts as a great nitrogen source for the mushrooms and by not growing on manure, they are able to better absorb the nutrients found in nature.
They also produce a mushroom powder. It’s one of those universal elements that you can use as seasoning or mix with any liquid to release the umami mushroom flavor. Shroom Brothers recommend using it as a stock base. I.e. arancini balls, risotto, soup and even eggs prior to cooking them.
The Brothers continue to innovate and challenge the conceptions of standard mushroom farming in Australia, with new lines including the Cinnamon Cap, a variety that is similar to Italian favourite Pioppino mushroom, coming early next year. We look forward to working with the Shroom Brothers in the future!
For a brief overview of the mushroom varieties that Suncoast Fresh has to offer, check out our recent feature on Instagram.