The little-known Lancashire grown mushroom varieties helping to drive Tesco’s plant-based revolution

Demand is soaring for two obscure mushroom varieties that are being grown in the North West and are taking the UK’s plant-based food revolution by storm.

Commercially grown in the UK by specialist Lancashire producer Smithy Mushrooms, Brown Oyster Cluster have become so popular because of their meat-like texture that sales have rocketed by nearly 240 per cent at Tesco. 

Plans are also already underway for Smithy Mushrooms to start growing the popular King Oyster variety later this year.

They are also two of the key vegetables behind the success of the supermarket’s exclusive, pioneering Wicked Kitchen vegan food range.

The growing popularity of the mushrooms has been helped by the online recipes of Tesco’s plant-based food guru Derek Sarno who created the Wicked Kitchen and Plant Chef ranges.

Derek Sarno, Tesco’s Director of Plant-based Innovation commented: Brown Oyster Cluster and King Oyster mushrooms offer such a meaty texture and versatility that they can be adapted to replicate just about any meat dish making them the perfect ingredient for plant-based cooking.

“They’re delicious on their own but the mild flavours and fibrous consistency easily absorbs whatever herbs, spice blends or sauces you choose to use – from Texan BBQ, Indian, Pan-Asian to classic British comfort foods.

“I’ve been working with them for many years and thanks to their incredible taste and versatility they have become a cornerstone of my recipes.”

Derek added that some of his best Wicked Kitchen recipes use Oyster mushrooms as the key alternative in classic dishes such as Pulled ‘Pork’ Sandwiches; Cheeky Tikka; Asian BBQ ‘Steak’; Teriyaki Skewers; Chick’n’Noodle Ramen; Hoisin BBQ Shreds and King Oyster Mushroom Scallops.

John Dorrian, Managing Director of Smithy Mushrooms, based in Ormskirk, Lancashire, says the demand for the Brown and King Oyster mushrooms has been overwhelming and has necessitated the need to expand.

He said: The plant-based food revolution has had a major impact on sales and we are already at the planning stage for a new purpose-built farm which will allows us to grow more of these specialist varieties used in vegan cooking.

“We’ve been growing Oyster mushrooms here for 25 years but have never had demand like we’re seeing now. 

“They are incredibly versatile and can be shredded to replicate pulled pork; thinly sliced to make kebab skewers and even sliced to make scallops that are indistinguishable from the meat variety.”