You can burn the toast, as long as the mushrooms are safe.

They were, and about 15 farm tourists got healthy helpings of Tye Tilt's marvelous mushroom recipe at the first stop of the Slow Food in the Tetons' producer taste tour Aug. 26.

Tilt, who runs Mountain Valley Mushrooms, served a marvelous treat of king oyster, shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms. Tilt grows the first two varieties. The recipe includes brandy, organic cream and shallots, he said.

Although he lamented the burnt toast, Tilt had no complaints from the eager tourists who devoured the fine fungi.

His visitors got to see the different steps he uses to grow mushrooms in his certified organic system, starting with cloning mushroom mycelium in a test tube; developing the spawn; growing them on rye grain, then transferring them to wood chips and into bags, where the ‘shrooms fruit.

"What I'm after is the sexual fruiting body, that's the actual mushroom you see and eat," said Tilt. "It's the reproductive organ of the mushroom mycelium."

Mushrooms are close to ready when the gills begin to appear.

"I want to get them before the cap flattens out. That's when they're at their best quality and weight, and keep the best," Tilt said

Shiitake mushrooms take three months, while king oysters need 5-6 weeks, he said. About 2-2.5 pounds of mushrooms will develop per bag of oyster mushrooms, while shiitake blocks are smaller, and can produce about a pound per bag.

From mushrooms, the travelers moved on to the new Teton Valley Creamery, where Sue Muncaster and Lauren Hokin explained the processes for making both gelato and cheese curds.

It starts with raw milk, which TVC purchases from the Wright dairy. Although the creamery can pasteurize milk onsite, "our ultimate goal is to make raw milk artisan cheese," said Muncaster, who helped start the local chapter of Slow Food.

But when the creamery opened July 4, customers went gangbusters for its gelato, Muncaster said. Originally conceived to be a small side business to TVC's cheese making, "the creamery is being known for the gelato, which wasn't the original plan, but we're going with it," she said.

The building, a former 1930s gas station, was also a city of Driggs building until the Hokin family invested in the building and the creamery.

Visitors got to sample different new flavors of gelato and cheese curds, then rate them for flavor, texture and other aspects in a survey following the tour. Nearly everyone picked the raspberry gelato as their favorite, and enjoyed samples of garlic and herb and Mexican-spice cheese curds.

From TVC, the travelers visited a local farm that is almost completely off the grid.

Snowdrift farm, in Victor near Pole Canyon, is run by three families who don't depend on outside utilities.

"There are no electrical lines coming into any of these three homes," said farm manager Erika Eschholz. "They're all solar and wind powered. Each home has its own solar panels near the houses."

The south side of the shop is all panels. The lone wind turbine helps trickle in electricity in the winter when there is so little sun, she said.

The farm also captures its own rainwater, stored in a 40,000-gallon underground tank. They top it off with irrigation water before winter.

"We're trying to create a working farm model so that the income pays for the expenses, not including the greenhouse and farm structures, but the day-to-day expenses covered by our [income] from vegetables, hay, meat and eggs," she said. "You can have a working farm and be solar powered."

Sue Miller grows a third of the vegetables on the farm and is active in developing Snowdrift's farmers' market stands. Georgie Stanley owns most of the property.

In its second year of production, the certified organic farm relies on compost produced onsite by the cows, goats, chickens and pigs. Their eight Hereford-Duroc pigs are the perfect tilling machines for the gardens and, with the fertilizer they provide, prepare the beds for planting.

Eschholz said the farmers always take into consideration the least impact and use of fossil fuels to obtain what they need for the best outcomes on the farm, such as worms from Rocky Mountain Worm Factory, Rigby, to add micronutrients to the soil.

Besides a host of vegetables in the gardens, the greenhouse, largely built with reclaimed wood, houses peas, potatoes, kale, cilantro, mustard greens, lettuce mix, many varieties of tomatoes and more.

There are several garden patches throughout the property to provide options to allow for different soil conditions, frost arrivals, elevations and other factors.

Slow Food in the Tetons is the local chapter of Slow Food, USA.

"We're everything that fast food isn't," said Nancy Van Dyke, program coordinator for SFT and Full Circle Education. "We try to connect people to the sources of their food by connecting people to local farmers and producers. We help them understand how they can buy food locally and the importance of fairly-produced food that's clean and good for the environment and people."

This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting growers and producers in the Teton Valley.

To contact Ken Levy e-mail



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