Her Christmas experiments with mushrooms
By Express News service - KOCHI
22nd December 2012 10:34 AM
Christmas and mushrooms are linked from time immemorial, in fact even before Xmas began to be celebrated.
Legend has it that Xmas motifs and symbols are actually derived from shamanistic traditions of tribal people of pre-Christian northern Europe.
It was believed that mushrooms that sprouted under the pine cast a magic spell and people collected them clad, Santalike, in red and white costumes, dried them on pine boughs like Xmas decorations and hung them in socks for drying near the fire.
All these are Christmas motifs today.
Rekindling those memories is Shije Varghese of Eramalloor.
Passionate about mushroom farming she has recreated the Christmas spirit of the good old days.
Her Xmas tree adorned with mushrooms is placed on a hilly slope below under which sprout mushrooms.
A large mushroom forms the roof of the crib.
What started as a hobby has now grown into an occupation.
Shije’s mushroom cutlets (ready-to-cook), pickles and ‘chammanthy’ podi are a big hit.
Now she is experimenting with mushroom cakes and halwa.
Anyone who visits Shije on Christmas eve is sure to get gifts made of mushrooms.
Shije ventured into mushroom farming when she shifted from Kottayam to Eramalloor where she caught her husband’s passion for farming.
With plenty of time on her hands she essayed mushroom farming after initial training from A V Mathew of Kumarakom who gave her the seeds and tips on tissue culture.
Now she makes her own seeds through tissue culture.
“This is something that any housewife can do and earn some pocket money.
Making the beds takes some time which may need a hand after which they must be tended well against fungus attack.
Once this is through mushrooms can be harvested within 15 to 20 days,” she said.
She has set up two-storeyed space of 1600 sq ft for mushroom farming and does not regulate the temperature although she finds that better yield is obtained on the ground floor which is cooler.
Shije’s mushrooms which goes by the name ‘Coonfresh’ adorn the racks of many a supermarket in the city.
It cost `250 per kg and sold in 200g packs along with recipes She says that oyster mushroom is endowed with medicinal properties and can lower cholesterol levels and inhibit tumour growth.
It offers solace for those suffering from cardio vascular diseases, diabetes, stomach problems and it is an antioxidant.
To share the joy of mushroom farming and impart the tricks of the trade she offers free training for mushroom cultivation.
Shije was honoured as best woman farmer by Kerala agriculture department and panchayat recently.
Shije can be contacted at 8089410299.
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