Growing mushrooms at Kennesaw State

Published in FSD Update

During a university tour, I saw the simple and fascinating process of growing shiitakes.

I’ve long believed in the adage, “You should learn something new every day.” One of the joys of this job is that it frequently puts me in touch with operators who, through their innovation, talent or simple desire to always improve, show me things I hadn’t known.

I had several of those moments during my visits in the Atlanta area earlier this month. But few were as fascinating as the mushroom “plot” I saw at Kennesaw State University (KSU).

I love mushrooms. I’ve seen them grow in the wild and I’ve been to a mushroom farm in Pennsylvania where they grow the white button mushrooms that are so prevalent in supermarkets and on chain restaurant menus.

But I’d never really given any thought to the commercial growing of exotic mushrooms such as shiitake, morel and portobello. So when I took a tour of the farm operated by Culinary and Hospitality Services (C&HS) at Kennesaw State University, I was intrigued to see the sign, heading a path that led off into the woods, advertising mushrooms.

I followed Gary Coltek, director of C&HS, Robin Taylor, Farm to Campus to Farm Manager, and Michael Blackwell, assistant farm manager, down the path to a row of logs, stacked against the horizontal trunk of a giant red oak. Popping out of the logs were shiitake mushrooms. Most were small, but there was one the size of a large portobello cap. Mike Blackwell explained the simple growing process:

“After letting the logs sit for a few weeks to make sure there are no fungicides left, you inoculate the logs [drilling holes and injecting spores into the holes using oak dowels] and wait.”

It takes several months for the spores to take hold, but once they do the mushrooms sprout rather quickly. Blackwell says that usually within two or three days the mushrooms are large enough to be harvested and used in KSU’s Dining Commons.

So now I know.

Keywords: 
sustainability

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

...

FSD Resources