For our first lesson in judging mushroom quality we want to discuss what you should expect in
the retail produce market. This is the one place everyone needs to be alert. The consumer wants to buy mushrooms that look good and
will be good for several days. The store manager or buyer wants to have mushrooms that will sell fast and that means ones that will
please his customers. The wholesale produce market wants just about the same thing that the retail market wants and of course, the
grower wants to please them all. Chefs seldom expects a pretty package, but they do want the highest quality so that they can impress
If you are going to judge quality you need some sort of reference of what to expect. The photo above was taken in a large supermarket
with a mushroom-loving clientele.
Before I continue, I would like to have you think about the meaning of the block on your left. I hope
it means different thing to the different people that I have mentioned above. I have a coffee mug with a picture of an ugly cat's
face and under it it says “Keep Your Paws of My Mug!” All mushrooms are fragile, but oyster mushrooms are particularly fragile. Because
they are so fragile, it is almost universal to pack them in a tray over-wrapped with plastic film. We will see that there is much
more to it than that.