It will soon be a year since we purchased our two commercial grade dehydrators, thanks to the Next Stage Grant from the Mill City Farmers Market! It’s time for an update on how these dehydrators have changed how we provide mushrooms to MCFM and other customers.
The quality of the new dehydrators has really shown through, resulting in exceptional dried mushrooms! The heat provided is very consistent, resulting in a finished dried mushroom that has great color and freshness.
The speed of drying has been nearly what we expected, about 12 to 16 hours per batch, depending on the size of the mushrooms being dehydrated. That means that we can do one or two batches per day, rather than 24 hour turn-around for our old dehydrators. We lack solid data on comparative drying records of this last year versus 2019, but I’d guess that we’ve increased our drying capacity between 25% and 50% based on drying time and capacity. We have dried significantly more mushrooms since we received these dehydrating work-horses! Because of that we’ve seen a 17% increase in sales of our grade A shiitake, the ones we typically sell at the market and elsewhere, and we have enough of most varieties to keep selling most varieties through the year, while this time last year we had sold all our inventory! Due to Covid, our sales of grade B mushrooms has dropped considerably, but we have significant inventory in storage for when we can offer them to market customers, restaurants, or directly to mushroom aficionados!
This dehydrating capacity has meant some new products, just as we’d hoped. We did release a new dried mushroom blend that has been a real hit, the Umami Blend, a mix of dried shiitake, foraged hen of the woods, and chestnut mushrooms. Our dried shiitake seconds (ugly ones exclusively available at the market) have also been a hit, far more popular than our regular shiitake. We have also started selling dried Almond mushrooms – again exclusively to market customers. We are currently working on a couple more dried mushroom options – keep an eye out for them at our booth!
We’ve also seen an increase in powdered mushroom production thanks to these dehydrators, including our lion’s mane powder. Sales have nearly doubled since we plugged in these dryers! We plan to add another variety or two of healthful powdered mushrooms, such as reishi mushrooms.
Thanks again Mill City Farmers Market for your support – through the Next Stage Grant!