The Saturday morning Oakwood Farm Market has many unique vendors, but some stand out among the others. Thacker’s Gourmet Mushrooms is one such vendor. Thacker's has been supplying the Dayton and Cincinnati areas with locally grown, quality produce since 2007. Specializing in various varieties of gourmet mushrooms, Thacker’s farm is based in Franklin, Ohio and uses only natural ingredients and substrates - never any chemical sprays or pesticides. Mushrooms absorb a high percentage of any toxins in their environment, so it is especially important to know where your mushrooms are coming from and how they are produced.
Thacker’s Gourmet Mushrooms is currently offering Oyster mushrooms at the Oakwood Saturday morning market. Oyster mushrooms ( P. ostreatus) grow on logs and on dead hardwood trees in the wild, and must be flushed with water after harvesting, as their gill spaces provide a sanctuary for many small insects. Luckily, cultivated mushrooms such as Thacker’s are not a haven for any insects, so all you have to do is purchase and enjoy. Even the stems were tender, this author did not trim nor discard any part of these mushrooms prior to slicing and cooking. They do dehydrate rather quickly, so be sure to store in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator and use as soon as possible after purchase. They can be sautéed briefly in butter and then stored in the freezer, but freezing generally does not improve the texture of any mushroom.
Cultivated Oyster mushrooms have a thick, meaty flesh and a light, delicate flavor and are quite versatile. Called ‘the designer mushroom’ in some circles, Oyster mushrooms lend themselves to a variety of dishes. The cap is thin and cooks quickly, and can be simply torn into pieces before adding to your dish.
You can simply heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a sauté pan, add the sliced mushroom and cook on medium heat until the mushrooms begin to brown and are starting to soften. They can then be seasoned with salt, pepper, basil, oregano or whatever herbs strike your fancy and are quite delicious when prepared in this simple manner. This author thought they lent themselves to a balsamic glaze. Conveniently, I had recently purchased a bottle of mango Balsamic vinegar from Miami Valley Spice Traders at that very same Oakwood farm market.
1.5 cups aged Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
In a sauce pan, heat the sugar and vinegar to boiling, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture begins to boil, immediately reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. When the mixture achieves a syrupy texture (15 to 20 minutes or so) remove it from the heat and chill for a half hour in the refrigerator. .
Drizzle the syrup lightly over the warm mushrooms and serve!
The Oakwood Farmers’ Market in downtown Oakwood (behind Chico's, at Far Hills Avenue and Orchard Avenue) is held rain or shine 9:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays through Aug 30, 2014.