Coffee grounds provide a hit for oyster mushrooms on the NSW mid north coast – ABC Rural
The world is his oyster — or, in this case, his oyster mushroom.
Loui Despitovski starting growing oyster mushrooms as a pastime while studying art and audio engineering, but has now turned it into a business.
Coffee grounds from local cafes, sugarcane waste, and compost provide the bed for his gourmet oyster mushrooms.
“It was a hobby that grew out of control, when my partner asked me to grow some mushrooms that we could eat for dinner,” Mr Despitovski said.
“Then one day I took them in a small box to the local cafe and the owner told me I had a winner.”
All this occurred while living in Melbourne.
Since then Mr Despitovski has moved to just outside of Bowraville where he has constructed a hothouse tunnel on a friend’s farm.
In exchange for the use of the land, he provides labour for the friend who supplies a range of vegetables to the region’s eateries and markets.
The darkened tunnel is approximately 25 metres long and 3 metres wide and just high enough for an average person to stand up in.
Inside are several rows of black plastic bags hanging down — where the mushrooms grow.
The bags, which are about 50cm long and with a diameter of around 18cm, are bulging with the coffee grounds, sugarcane waste, and compost.
“The species I grow is completely different to the common white button or flat mushroom that you find at the shops that most people are familiar with,” Mr Despitovski said.
“The oyster mushroom I grow is from the family of Pleurotus ostreatus. They are naturally found on dead trees.
The oyster mushroom is “extremely adaptable” growing on wood or a straw-like substance.
After researching online, it has been a matter of “trial and error” for Mr Despitovski, and now the fungi thrive.
With holes cut at intervals in the plastic, the mushrooms in the compost hunt for the light, emerging through the small openings no larger than a five cent piece.
In around four to five days the mushroom goes from being no bigger than petals of a small rose, creamy pink in colour to the size of a human hand, ready for harvest.
Once picked, that hole will soon again be filled with another mushroom that has successfully found the source of light.
The tasty mushroom seems to be titillating the palates of those who frequent the farmers markets that dot the mid north coast.
Jerky for vegetarians
Mr Despitovski finds it hard to keep up with demand.
“We are ramping up production finding wholesalers in the area while working on a couple of other projects,” he said.
“I hate to waste these beautiful mushrooms and started to play around and came up with a mushroom jerky.”
Although just what is the method has Mr Despitovski keeping his cards close to his chest.
“Some of the ingredients include soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and truffle oil. After being marinated, they are placed in a dehydrating cabinet.”
Like many other mushroom producers, Mr Despitovski provides kits for people keen to try their hand at producing the exotic fungi.
Although unlike the cardboard boxes, which are the staple for mushroom kits, Mr Despitovski provides a two-litre white plastic bucket filled with spores and the compost mixture.
Holes are cut in the sides of the bucket, so that home growers can enjoy four to five harvests of the oyster mushroom.
But don’t expect a printed version of the jerky recipe — the fungi grower wants to make sure people are kept in the dark on that enterprise.