The dictatorship of fresh
Before the dictatorship of fresh particularly perishable products (fish, shellfish), and / or products that are seasonal only (such as different mushroom) were the subject of specific treatments for their conservation.
The essence of these treatments was using resources made available by the environment, tradition, and technical advances: ash, salt, smoke, sun, wind, cold and canning.
Drying is a very effective technique, since it blocks the decomposition process in a lasting way; it is also the process that preserves and restores optimally the taste and nutrients of the treated product.
Therefore this method enables the keeping of some species that are particularly fragile or ephemeral and that are virtually impossible to find on the stalls of fresh vegetables. This is the case of Shaggy Inkcap, Caesar's Mushroom or the Parasol.
The special texture, the concentration of flavors and aromas, the ease and diversity of their use makes it a unique culinary experience.
Already while running “Café des Spores”, we were confronted with the growing difficulty of obtaining supplies of fresh wild mushroom of good quality.
This difficulty appears to be related mainly to the depletion of the sites caused by a combination of pollution, overexploitation and mismanagement of forest areas. Picking in more remote areas results in lengthening of the time between harvest and sale, having as impact increased transportation costs and adding to the energy debt.
The uncertain level of quality and the constant increase in prices of wild mushroom, their probable cost to the environment, and traceability problems therefore urged us to seek new resources.
Less is better
It takes between 12 and 20 kgs of fresh mushrooms to make 1 kilo of dried mushrooms (the average being between 15 and 18) reducing thus substantially the energy cost associated with their transportation.
When dried under good conditions and directly in the hours after picking, they retain their aromatic and nutritious potential, and do not deteriorate during transportation.
Mushrooms contain between 80 and 95% water that dilutes both their flavor and nutritional potential. By eliminating this water, taste and nutritional values become incredibly (and wonderfully) concentrated.
The fourth dimension
Our mushrooms are picked and dried in NW Greece, 200 kms from Thessaloniki, in the natural parks of the prefectures of West Macedonia, between 500 and 1500 m altitude. The Natural Park of Pindos, in particular, has a very rich array of ecosystems, wild and lavish (endemic species, black pine, brown bear, wolf, eagle, mushrooms). This large area, protected as “biogenetic reserve” with nonexistent industry is free of intensive cultivation, unspoiled by acid rain and has an almost zero level of pollution.
In fact, the quality of mushrooms it produces, their large variety, and basically the richness of their composition is quite impressive (many academic works have demonstrated this uniqueness, including: PK Ouzouni “Nutritional value and metal content profile of Greek wild edible fungi”» www.akademiai.com).