Wolfe Family Farms offers variety at Old Town Santa Barbara Farmers Market
Visitors to the Old Town Santa Barbara Farmers Market have the opportunity to explore a colorful variety of unique products grown in Santa Barbara County.
But perhaps the most unexpected splash of color comes from Wolfe Family Farms’ mushroom stand.
When the News-Press visited the downtown farmer’s market last week, which takes place on Tuesdays at lower State Street between Cota and Canon Perdido streets, the stand was fielding a steady stream of customers, several of them returning for another helping of the Solvang-grown fungi.
On offer at the stand were pink oyster mushrooms in hues ranging from pale rose to deeper shades of pink, impressively-sized lion’s mane mushrooms and blue oyster mushrooms that resemble pale white plumes of undersea coral.
The stand will also feature shiitake mushrooms in future appearances at the Old Town Santa Barbara Farmers Market, following the completion of harvesting.
On hand to speak to the News-Press was Ruby Chaney, who has worked for the Wolfe Family Farms for nearly two years. Ms. Chaney, who is a vegan, first became interested in mushrooms when she was looking for a more natural alternative to the meat replacement products currently on the market.
“I’ve been vegan for about eight years now, and when I started, I was eating the processed meat replacement stuff. And I just hated how processed it was,” she said. “So I wanted to find something that was kind of meaty that was like an actual whole food that grows out of the earth.”
Ms. Chaney began going to her local farmers market in Solvang in search of alternatives, where she discovered Wolfe Family Farms’ lion’s mane mushrooms.
After that, she was hooked.
“It has this really fun like flaky texture, and you can just like shred it apart,” she said. “So I’ll be in the kitchen, and I’ll just be sitting there shredding lion’s mane. And it makes the best mushroom tacos, crabless crab cakes, and you can put it on sandwiches!”
In regards to the pink and blue oyster mushrooms available that day, Ms. Chaney gushed over how the two varieties “crisp up beautifully” and work well when pan fried and oven roasted.
“The pink oyster mushrooms have kind of a nice seafood aroma to them. They’re a lot more fragrant, more pungent; whereas the blue are nice and subtle and delicate.”
She revealed that her favorite use of the blue oyster mushrooms was to Southern-fry them in a cornmeal buttermilk dredge, while she enjoyed using pink oysters to start her day off.
“The pink I just love for breakfast,” she said. “You can put them on eggs — I do a tofu scramble — or just crisp them up with a little bit of salt, smoked paprika and some maple syrup or brown sugar.”