WELLINGTON — When Jodi Hilt was in college, she wrote a paper on mushrooms.
″They’ve been in my mind ever since,” she said.
A few years ago, Hilt started growing mushrooms commercially at her home southeast of Wellington, which she shares with her husband, Richard. She calls her business Grand Prairie Mushrooms and it has a Facebook page.
″The mushrooms I grow are delicious,” she said. “Each mushroom has its own flavor.”
Hilt can tell you about the “most versatile” mushroom - the blue oyster. It is firm and can be used with anything grilled, deep fat fried, on omelets and on top of pizza.
The yellow and pink mushrooms are more delicate but great for roasting, she said.
The lion’s mane mushroom is called that for its shaggy looks. It has the taste and texture of a lobster and a lot of vegans will use it in place of seafood.
″There was a study in Japan,” Hilt said. “Sixty-eight patients with the onset of dementia were given lion’s mane daily and their cognition improved over time. When it stopped, their cognition declined.”
There are around 350 mushrooms per batch and Hilt makes at least two batches a week, working two hours a day during the week and all of the weekend.
She has mushrooms growing in her basement. She cleans the floors, walls and makes sure fungus or bacteria doesn’t appear. “If you don’t like cleaning, don’t do mushrooms,” she said.
Throughout the summer, she sells her mushrooms at the Old Town Farmers’ Market in Wichita and sells to restaurants in the area.
″The production time is not enough to keep up with demand,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m part-time.”
Hilt has gone working full to part-time at Kansas Surgical and Recovery in Wichita and plans to retire from there at the end of the year, enabling her to spend more time growing mushrooms.
″People are more aware of food,” she said. “The farmer is your next door neighbor so you know what’s being planted and where it comes from.”