Mystic Mountain has mushroom to grow in Grand Lake
Inside an unassuming home in Grand Lake, the basement has been converted into a laboratory where peculiar mushrooms of every shape grow.
The basement feels like a sci-fi space colony with clear plastic dividers splitting the rooms. Behind the plastic sheets, shelves stacked high with brown and white bags line the aisles. Mushrooms burst out in surprising shapes, colors and sizes as they reach toward the ceiling.
Mystic Mountain Mushrooms is one of only two certified organic mushroom farms in Colorado, and a small team in Grand Lake ensures that every fungus they grow meets the strict standards that come with that certification.
Mushroom growing started as a hobby for owner and founder Sherry McGann, who converted the basement into a mushroom farm about a year ago. Husband and wife Serif and Andrea Toy joined the operation earlier this year.
The business has been growing as fast as their mushrooms ever since.
“When we say we do everything, we do everything from spore to fruit, which is literally the start of the lifecycle to the end of the lifecycle,” Andrea Toy said.
The life of a mushroom at the farm begins in a special bag filled with organic soy bean hulls and saw dust. Those bags go into a pressurized barrel for 18 hours.
Because of the delicate growing process, everything the mushrooms touch — even the air — has to be sterile.
“When it comes to mushrooms, you have to sterilize everything because at the cellular level they don’t have the immunity system we have,” Serif Toy, the product director, explained.
In the lab, spore cultures bred by Mystic Mountain Mushrooms are transferred to the bags. The part of the mushroom known as the mycelium colonizes the bags after about two weeks.
The blocks are then cut open in a specific spot and left to “fruit.” Mushrooms need oxygen and high humidity to grow, which is what the fungi get in the “fruiting room.”
Mystic Mountain Mushrooms grows both medicinal and culinary mushrooms. Certain strains of mushrooms, like the brown and white Turkey Tail, are grown specifically for their health benefits.
Mushroom tinctures are made from those medicinal mushrooms, which are double extracted to pull out the nutrients, and can be added in drops to drinks like coffees or smoothies.
“We cannot eat healthy or medicinal mushrooms every day unless we have a farm, right?” Serif Toy said. “(The tincture) is an extraction of a pound put into a two ounce bottle.”
Other mushrooms like the fuzzy-looking Lion’s Mane can also be used for cooking. Andrea Toy said a favorite recipe of hers is the vegetarian crab cake, which uses the seafood flavored Lion’s Mane mushroom instead of crab.
The young business has seen a lot of interest from tourists and locals alike.
“There are a lot of people who are health conscience especially after the pandemic,” Serif Toy said.
Mystic Mountain Mushrooms are available in Grand Lake from Mountain Market and Mush Love in the Mountains. Multiple restaurants in Grand County are also using their mushrooms.
The business is still working on a delivery system for those wanting their products outside Grand, but interested locals can go to http://www.mysticmountainmushrooms.com for more information.
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