Pedro Capela studies mushrooms since the time he attended the Escola Superior Agrária de Ponte de Lima. This was followed by the inventory and, now on its own, production and commercialization, this time with the creation of FungiFresh.
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Texto de Patrícia Serrado
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The training in Environmental Engineering in Rural Resources, a degree attended and completed at the Escola Superior Agrária de Ponte de Lima, led Pedro Capela to complete his final internships in the field of wild mushrooms. The aim was to identify these fungi in protected areas. He later carried out an inventory of mushroom species throughout the country between 2005 and 2010 for a company in the sector.
Faced with the disappearance of this company, he decided to start a new stage in this area. He created FungiFresh in 2010 and started to dedicate himself to the production of mushrooms on a plot, in Escudeiros, a parish in the municipality of Braga, in the Minho Region. Of the two hectares, 400m2 are occupied by a physical structure confined to the production of Pleurotus and Shiitake mushrooms.
“Both are produced in a controlled environment, between 16° and 22°C and between 84 and 89% relative humidity, plus ventilation”, explains Pedro Capela. So, they remain for 24 hours and 365 days a year, which allows the daily harvesting of these fungi. “In wild mushrooms, the strongest season is in autumn and winter, because that is when there is more diversity and greater quantity.” Even so, it is possible to collect them throughout the year. Pedro Capela gives examples, such as Alentejo, in March, or Minho, in April.
In parallel with its production, Pedro Capela works with pickers, “teaching them how to make a sustainable harvest”, such as “leaving the oldest mushrooms on the ground, as they are the ones who deposit the 'seeds', which help to perpetuate the species”. This relationship has been maintained since the beginning of FungiFresh. “We have catchers from North to South of the country”, but “we also buy from others, other than ours”. The purpose is to “cut the middlemen”, to guarantee direct delivery to the cooks, in favour of the quality of the product, or if their mushrooms were not channelled substantially to the restaurant. “In 2010 I turned to Horeca because I had already noticed the upgrade in the kitchens”, he justifies.
Despite the focus being on catering spaces, Pedro Capela leaves an important recommendation regarding the conservation of this product in our homes: put the mushrooms in the fridge, inside a plastic container, covered with a napkin or dish towel or “put it in a bag of paper”, so that it lasts “longer in the cold” and avoids “condensation, which accelerates the rotting process”.