Shiitake and the Flavor of the Earth
Shiitake mushrooms are prized for their delicate flavor and their nutrient content. Releasing a fifth taste sense called umami, shiitake has a gratifying meat-like, smokey flavor that lingers for hours. They're also low in calories and high in vitamins B & D. Shiitake are believed to aid weight loss, support cardiovascular health, fight cancer cells, improve energy levels and brain function, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.
Growing wild shiitakes in the open is not only complicated, time consuming and labor intensive, but they are also highly unpredictable. Versailles Farm has one of the largest shiitake laying yards in Connecticut. Since 1720 this site has been used as farmland, first by Joshua Cornwall, then James Field and Thomas Carpenter, and most recently by Yale University in 1918.
White oak logs are cut into 4 foot lengths, then holes drilled to pack with shiitake spawn and sealed to avoid contamination. Logs are stacked into cribs to allow mushroom mycelium to permeate the wood.
Any chef who tries wild shiitakes will want to have them on their menu. Native to Japan, the shiitake can be used as a substitute for meat or fish. It compliments most any vegetable and it adds a subtle complexity to any dish.
High humidity & excessive rain has produced one of the most delicious explosion of mushrooms we’ve seen in years. Our shiitake cribs are alive with tender fruit. These fruit have a delicate, complex, umami flavor. Today in France they’re harvesting truffles. In Tuscany they’re hunting porcini. And in Greenwich we’re cutting shiitake grown in the wild.