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The fascinating world of mushrooms

Matt Koshak holds lion’s mane and pearl oyster mushrooms. (courtesy of Pop Cosmic Mushrooms)

The fascinating world of mushrooms

By John Gregory

Most people think of mushrooms as a spore-bearing fungus in a dark forest growing into a bulbous shape. Edible mushrooms are often thought of as a mostly tasteless item that can be sauteed and added to meat dishes. Others are known as poisonous or hallucinogenic. But mushrooms are so much more.

Now, visitors to the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market and Family Festival can learn all about mushrooms and purchase them beginning March 21 as the Pop Cosmic Mushrooms booth will make its first appearance.

Katie Serbian, along with her partner Matt Koshak, started growing mushrooms as a profession about one year ago at Serbian’s property in Valley Center. She purchased the land and said one of her goals was to have the property provide an income – possibly by sustaining a crop.

“When I started growing mushrooms as a hobby, I really, really fell in love with it,” Serbian said. 

“I started researching more about how certain mushrooms are so good for your health. Some people refer to them as functional mushrooms or nootropic mushrooms. I got deeper and deeper into this dive on this research of mushrooms and I thought this is the thing that the property could do,” she said. “We can have a mushroom farm and we can provide really good, high quality mushrooms for people to eat, and then we can also provide the functional mushrooms – the nootropic mushrooms – for people’s health and wellbeing.”

Their Pop Cosmic Mushrooms booth at the Farmer’s Market will offer edible mushrooms as well as products for health. In addition, the booth will offer recipe cards and information about the benefits of mushrooms.

“We’ll have a variety of culinary mushrooms for sale by the pound. We will also have some tinctures that we make here from our functional mushrooms that help with stress relief; inflammation,” Serbian said.

Customers interested in the subject will have the chance to grow their own. 

“Hopefully, we’ll have our mushroom grow kits. So, you could take a kit home and grow mushrooms yourself,” she said.

Asking questions during a visit to the Pop Cosmic Mushrooms booth will turn into an incredible learning experience. There is so much that most do not know about mushrooms. For instance, mushrooms on the farm are grown inside a building with a monitored hydration system. Mushrooms are grown on wood pellets using soy hull, which is the shell of the soybean. The cell walls of mushrooms are more similar to crustaceans than to plants. Lion’s mane mushrooms are good at protecting the brain against Alzheimer’s disease. The tincture sold by Pop Cosmic Mushrooms is extracted using sonication methods. The best way to store mushrooms is in the open air, such as in a paper bag. 

Visit the Pop Cosmic Mushrooms booth at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market and Family Festival, held from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. each Thursday at 10045 Carroll Canyon Road.