Just outside of Fort Collins, there’s a small sign in front of an old farmstead that reads Hazel Dell Mushrooms. While it may appear unassuming, this farm grows 4-5,000 pounds of mushrooms every week, providing Ginger and Baker and other area restaurants and famers’ markets with an abundance of earthy, flavorful fungi.
It’s a family run business,” said Hazel Dell Farm Manager Jared Scherger. “Jim and Toni Hammond moved here from California in 1997 to be closer to family and they’ve been growing mushrooms ever since.”
A tour of the farm’s outbuildings offers a look at what it takes to cultivate mushroom varieties that were once only found in the wild. Enter a cool, dark warehouse and the rich smells of fresh cut wood and loamy spores fill the air. “We grow everything on locally sourced hardwood sawdust,” said Jared. “It’s a byproduct that would normally be sent to the dump, but we sterilize it and it makes a perfect base for growing.”
The 10-acre farm is USDA certified organic and the team works to reuse and recycle every component that they can. “After we’re done using the sawdust to grow mushrooms, we compost it and it’s available for purchase as an amenity for flower gardens,” said Jared.
Currently, Hazel Dell grows eight varieties of gourmet mushrooms. “A lot of people aren’t familiar with some of the varieties we offer, so we usually recommend getting a mixed bag to discover the different flavors and textures,” Jared said.
“Right now, my favorite is the Lion’s Mane, it has a taste and texture similar to crab or lobster meat,” he said. “I like to shred some King Oysters on a cheese grater, then chop up some Lion’s Mane and sauté them both. Then I take a crab cake recipe and replace the crab with these sautéed mushrooms. It’s delicious!”
Also available are Oyster, Shiitake. Cremini, Cinnamon Cap, Pioppino and Maitake. “The best and simplest way to enjoy each kind is to slice and sauté them then add to pasta, pizza or scrambled eggs,” said Jared.
So, take a trip out to their farm, stop by a booth at a local farmers’ market, or try one of the dishes using Hazel Dell mushrooms on our menus in the Café or The Cache!
Learn more at HazelDellMushrooms.com