14 December 2022

Riverina Made: James McDonald produces pristine, exotic and boutique mushrooms for discerning buyers

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Molly and James McDonald

Father and daughter Molly and James McDonald at the Riverina Producers’ Market. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Who are you and what is your business? My name is James McDonald and my business is Snowy Mountain Mushrooms, which we started about eight to 10 months ago. We’ve been operating out of our backyard in Tumut. We’ve developed a process to substrate sawdust. We take hardwood and pasteurise it and then we put it into bags and inoculate with the mycelium and then we grow the mushrooms.

Where did you begin? During the lockdown, we came out of Victoria and came up to Tumut. I needed to do something … I had my own business before, which I had to sell. I have a background in horticulture so I started to look at my options and this was an option that came up and I thought it was very good. I must say it has been a lot of fun.

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What do you produce? We produce different types of exotic mushrooms – oysters, shiitake, enoki, and lion’s mane. It is mainly for culinary but we are going to go into more medicinal ones too.

Where can we buy your products? At the Wagga markets and Learmont’s in Tumut. I’ve also got them available online – I deliver them to different places depending on the volume.

Pink oyster mushrooms

Pink oyster mushrooms, which James recommends as a Christmas gift. Photo: Snowy Mountain Mushrooms.

What should we buy for gifts this Christmas? The pink oysters. They are a bit drier so they crisp up very nicely.

What’s your favourite product that you make? I do like growing the oysters but my favourite is shiitake because it’s harder. It’s a more interesting one. It has medicinal and culinary aspects and that’s why I like it. It’s got to have some versatility.

shiitake mushrooms

James enjoys growing shiitake mushrooms. Photo: Snowy Mountain Mushrooms.

What would you make if you could do anything? It has to be a spaceship. Me and Elon to Mars … that is my dream. I’ve always been interested in space travel and science. I’ve always been quite keen on the biology aspects. However, I did my undergraduate and master’s in theology.

How would you promote the Riverina? I think getting people to come here and giving them a reason to come. There’s a lot to see and it is just beautiful.

READ ALSO Riverina Made: Bidgee Strawberries and Cream gin gift packs are a must for this Christmas

What’s your favourite coffee spot? The Coach House Kitchen in Tumut.

Who is another local producer you admire? The guys from Taravale. I think what they’re doing is amazing, and of course Junee licorice and whisky.

enoki mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms are known as the winter mushroom in Japan. Photo: Snowy Mountain Mushrooms.

What do you want for Christmas? I’m fairly easy … so just a bottle of whisky.

You can learn more about Snow Mountain Mushrooms or pick up something delicious for Christmas here.

Region Riverina is committed to celebrating our local producers and creatives and encourages everyone to buy locally.

If you’re aware of someone who’s making something amazing, let us know!

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