Food & Farm: Gourmet Mushrooms Right Here in Kane County

Food & Farm: Gourmet Mushrooms Right Here in Kane County

Urbanization near major cities has limited the amount of farmland in Illinois and changed a local economy that once was strongly tied to agriculture. Without a doubt, the average consumer is now several generations removed from the family farm.

But in Kane County, we are fortunate to have a balance between booming metropolis and rural agriculture, with many thriving farms that grow wonderful produce and connect us to our rich agricultural heritage.

One of these is Renshaw Farm, a Batavia business with a unique specialty.

Co-founded by Cari Shaw and Lauren Erdmanis, Renshaw Farm specializes in gourmet mushrooms. Their varieties are not the average cremini, button or portabella you might find in grocery stores.

“We are currently growing multiple varieties of oyster mushrooms as well as outdoor log-grown shiitake mushrooms,” Shaw said. “This spring we will be growing shiitake and lion’s mane indoors in our grow rooms.”

Mushrooms have other added benefits, aside from simply tasting delicious.

“Gourmet mushrooms have powerful antioxidant properties that protect cells in the body and fight against free radicals. In addition, they have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels, improve immunity and increase brain health,” Erdmanis said.

Varieties such as oyster contain important nutrients, such as protein, potassium, calcium and more, making mushrooms a nutritious snack choice.

Statistics in 2013 showed that 98 percent of mushrooms consumed in the U.S. were either cremini or button. Renshaw Farm is striving to make a difference in that number and enlighten consumers with the wider varieties of this specialty product.

When asked their favorite recipes to enjoy these locally grown mushrooms, Shaw replied, “Our favorite way to enjoy our oyster mushrooms is to toss them in olive oil and garlic salt or other seasoning and roast them at 400 degrees for 10 to15 minutes or until crispy.

“Once done, they can be put on top of a salad, added to a mezze platter or eaten as is for a healthy, delicious snack!”

So where can we find these delicious ‘shrooms?

“Our mushrooms are regularly sold at Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn and Curds & Whey in Geneva. They can also be found at the Geneva and St. Charles winter markets,” Shaw said. “We can also be found at Geneva, St. Charles, Batavia, Wheaton, Elgin and Sugar Grove farmers markets, during the regular market season.”

St. Charles Winter Market is open from 9 a.m. to noon every Friday at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St Charles. Geneva Winter Market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from November through April, at 327 Hamilton St., Geneva.

Be sure to check out Renshaw Farm and try these locally grown goods found right here in Kane County!