Buying local: Your comprehensive Ottawa holiday gift guide

JCB Gourmet Mushrooms was founded by John Bakker, who developed an interest in growing edible mushrooms while teaching agriculture in Zambia. He and his wife Cathie opened the business in a former elementary school in the village of Kinburn on the western edge of Ottawa earlier this year.

Each variety of mushroom grown on the “farm” has its own texture and flavour profile. Among the offerings: pink oyster (chewy with a slight seafood flavour) blue oyster (mild and meaty); king oyster and Shimofuri (can be cut in rounds and cooked like scallops); lion’s mane (makes a great substitute for crabmeat); shiitake (adds a umami flavour to recipes), pioppino (also known as the black poplar mushroom, with an earthy fragrance) and the chestnut mushroom (it has a nice nutty taste and goes well with red meats, in stir fries and most main courses).

A small box of mushrooms is $16. Most varieties keep well when refrigerated for five to seven days. Want to grow your own gourmet mushrooms? Grow kits are $25.00 plus HST. All you need to do is place the container in a dark space such as a basement and spritz it at least 2 to 4 times per day with water (if you have city water best to leave the water to air out for a couple hours before spraying the mushrooms, if you have a water softener it is advisable to use a source of water that does not have the higher salt content). Within two weeks, the kit should produce between one and two pounds of mushrooms, says John.  The key thing to remember is to not allow the growing medium to dry out. To place an order for pickup or delivery, call 613-701-6985, or visit

— Joanne Laucius

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