I have to admit, it’s been a long while since I’ve felt like sunbathing, and I feel like I’m running low on Vitamin D, that vitamin so renowned for strengthening bones as it helps the body absorb calcium. If you haven’t felt much like picnicking in the snow and soaking up sunshine, there’s good news for both of us because mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D, along with other nutrients like calcium, potassium and those excellent B vitamins that keep our nervous systems happy (which is good if you’re sad about how many months away picnic season is).
There’s even better news for those of us in the Delaware Valley because our neighbors in Kennett Square produce more than half of America’s mushrooms. Exactly how many mushrooms is that, you ask? About 400 million pounds per year! That’s an awful lot of funghi pizza, and a terrific amount of Vitamin D. Kennett Square is just 20 minutes away from Wolff’s, and we know farmers who provide us with fresh mushrooms every day.
Pennsylvania’s fresh mushroom boom began the way many great traditions in Pennsylvania have begun: with an effort to conserve resources. According to Nicholas Erb’s article “Fungus Among Us,” a carnation-grower named William Swayne was father of mushroom farming in Southeastern PA. Now, why would a carnation grower start growing mushrooms? Because carnations require so much space. They have to be grown on high benches, which leaves a lot of room in the greenhouse for other plants, particularly plants that like small spaces. It was perfect for mushrooms. Even in larger operations today, mushrooms are grown in what look like tightly-stacked bunk beds.
Swayne’s initial effort to conserve resources has led to an industry that makes good use of Pennsylvania’s agricultural byproducts: old hay, corn cobs, manure, and wheat straw. This makes many farmers happy that Kennett Square is the mushroom capital of the world!
Kennett Square’s mushrooms also delight Wolff’s customers with delicious and nutritious snacks and meals. So serve up some vegetable lasagne, chicken Marsala, beef stroganoff, funghi pizza or this delicious mushroom-Swiss sandwich, complete with Dijon mustard and local honey (which you can also pick up at Wolff’s!):
- 1 container baby bella mushrooms
- 2 medium white cooking onions
- ½ cup Dijon mustard
- ½ cup local honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 chicken breasts, cut in half
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 1 French baguette
- A small handful of spinach
- In a small bowl, combine honey and mustard.
- Slice onions and mushrooms.
- In a large pan, saute onions in olive oil about 5 minutes until soft and slightly translucent.
- Add mushrooms and saute 2 minutes more.
- Add about ½ of the honey mustard.
- Saute 3-5 more minutes until onions and mushrooms begin to brown in the honey mustard.
- Meanwhile, coat chicken in honey mustard mixture and saute in another saute pan 4-6 minutes per side until chicken is no longer pink.
- Transfer to a plate and cover with Swiss cheese slices.
- Toast the French baguette and slice into 4 equal pieces.
- Fill sliced baguettes with a chicken, mushroom mixture and spinach.
- Serve and enjoy!