The popularity of gourmet mushrooms is growing fast, as more and more folks discover the great taste and health benefits. In fact, almost ten million pounds of oyster and shiitake mushrooms were sold in the U.S. last year. In Europe and Asia, mushrooms are much more widely grown and eaten, but Americans are catching up.
In addition to the high demand, both oyster and shiitake mushrooms are among the easiest gourmet mushrooms to grow, and can be produced on a variety of waste products, such as straw and sawdust, even coffee grounds. New growing techniques allow growers to grow both varieties indoors in plastic bags. using this indoor method, the mushrooms are quick to go to maturity, about six to ten weeks from start to harvest.
Best of all, growing gourmet mushrooms doesn’t require a full-time commitment. You can still have a full-time job. If you just have a few hours every week, even as little as ten hours, then you have enough time to be a successful mushroom grower. Growing oyster and shiitake mushrooms indoors for profit is a great way to make a solid extra income.
So how much can you make growing gourmet mushrooms? Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are currently selling for $10-$12 a pound retail, and $6 a pound wholesale. In a 100 square foot growing area, growers are averaging around 2400 harvested pounds per year, with six growing cycles, or about one harvest every eight weeks. Doing the math, you can see the potential to make as much as $2400 for each harvest, or $15,000 yearly. And that’s selling your entire crop at wholesale prices. If you sell your gourmet mushrooms at retail prices, to shoppers at the farmer’s market, or to restaurant chefs, you could double that amount.
Once you’re ready to sell your gourmet mushrooms, there are a variety of ways to do it. How about your local Saturday or farmer’s market? That’s usually the best place to find large crowds that are eager to buy fresh, locally grown food. You can count on people looking for tasty gourmet mushrooms there. So set up a booth or pitch your tent and start selling. If spots are all full, ask another grower, such as a vegetable grower, if you can share a stand with them.
How about selling direct to local grocery stores? Due to the increased popularity of oyster and shiitake mushrooms, more and more stores are now selling them. Since oyster mushrooms in particular don’t ship well, stores prefer to buy from local growers.
A proven way to improve your gourmet mushroom sales at both the Saturday market and at grocery stores is to offer free samples. Set up a simple stand with a one-burner butane or electric stove, and saute your oyster mushrooms in butter, then pass them out to customers. Demos have been known to double sales, so start cooking!
Quite a few gourmet mushroom growers sell their freshly harvested mushrooms only to restaurant chefs in their area. There are two advantages in selling directly to chefs. First, they buy large quantities of mushrooms regularly, so it takes much less time to sell your entire harvest. Second, chefs are willing to pay retail prices for high-quality, fresh-picked oyster and shiitake mushrooms. Chefs know freshly harvested mushrooms taste better, and there is almost no waste or spoilage.
Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are the best gourmet mushrooms for part-time growers, with high prices and proven demand. There’s no huge time commitment, and there are several ways you can sell all you can grow. Before long, you could be making $25 a square foot growing gourmet mushrooms year-round indoors. To discover more, read Growing Gourmet Mushrooms For Profit.