High-tech mushroom farmers in Brooklyn raise $25M with vision for ‘the future of food'

The royal trumpet mushroom can grow in just two weeks to weigh more than a pound. Chop one up in a food processor and fry it with the right spice mix and the fungi can pack as much umami flavor as chorizo sausage. That is according to a new mushroom-focused cookbook curated by the founders of Smallhold, a startup growing the royal trumpet, among several other specialty mushrooms, inside a 3,000-square-foot warehouse in Williamsburg. Mushrooms in the Middle: A Smallhold Cookbook is part of an effort to expand the palate of Americans for specialty fungi. "To us, mushrooms represent the future of food," co-founders Andrew Carter and Adam DeMartino wrote in the introduction for the book.

Before Smallhold was founded four years ago, Carter worked for indoor-farming startups that largely focused on leafy greens, such as BrightFarms. He saw a gap in the market for rare fungi. The vast majority of mushrooms consumed in the U.S. are white button - the type you might see sliced on top of a pizza - but the diversity of mushroom types means they could serve as more than just a topping.

"They can be either a side dish or sit in the middle of your plate and are overall exceptionally versatile produce," said Carter, Smallhold's CEO. "Plus, they're delicious."

Smallhold grows the mushrooms, with names such as lion's mane and yellow oyster, in controlled tanks with LED lighting, connected to Wi-Fi or cellular service that allows for constant monitoring of growing conditions. The need for constant control is driven by "thick-headedness and semi-neurotic perfectionism," as described on the company's website. The process also allows for a wider range of commercially viable mushrooms. Drawing from lumber industry waste to plant the roots of the vegetable, Smallhold's mushrooms are USDA-certified organic.

Read the complete article at www.crainsnewyork.com.


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