Hyphal Knot mushroom farm bears fruit with sales in Moffat, Routt counties | SteamboatToday.com

Hyphal Knot mushroom farm bears fruit with sales in Moffat, Routt counties

James Neton
Craig Press
Curtis Dilldine, proprietor of Hyphal Knot, displays Golden Oyster mushrooms ready to harvest.
Curtis Dilldine/Courtesy photo

It took a decade of learning, research and personal insight for Curtis Dilldine to turn his love of mushrooms and interest in mycology — the study of fungus — into a steady business.

And like its namesake — Hyphal Knot — the growing business is showing the signs of the fruit of success.

Dilldine’s passion for mushrooms started at a young age when he learned elements of mushroom hunting from his Dad while tromping around Moffat County. After personal upheaval in his 20s, Dilldine discovered an interest in soil composition. While studying the components of good soil, he noticed the prevalence of fungus throughout the Earth.  

“Everywhere, I found there was fungus, there was fungus, there was fungus,“ Dilldine said. ”I guess that’s where my infatuation ended up happening … they were everywhere.

“You can’t have a healthy environment or healthy soil without this fungus. Why is that?” Dilldine wondered.

With his interest piqued, Dilldine sojourned down the path of years of self-education and research into mycology and the science of growing mushrooms.

“Then it blew my mind … There’s no heart, there’s no lungs, there’s no brain … Yet, this thing is growing and consuming and expanding and reproducing, and it does it intelligently,” explained Dilldine. “It can take anything out of the soil, trash … whatever, break it down to the molecular level and reconstruct the molecules as needed for its own survival.”

While working a variety of other jobs over the next eight years, Dilldine dreamed of a self-styled career growing mushrooms. In his spare time, he started experimenting with the process.  

“I started really small — started with eight ounce jars and did really, really small grows,” he said. “Then I started expanding into the quart jars, then making my own petri dishes, liquid cultures … It was very, very small scale.”  

Two years ago, Dilldine created his own business, Hyphal Knot, and last May expanded its operations when he moved into 2023 W. Victory Way.

Starting with dry spores or a liquid culture, Dilldine inoculates a petri dish.

After three to five days, he can take small biopsies of the growth up to about 12 times to selectively choose and develop the best looking spores. Eventually, the mycelium in the petri dish will “sector” and divide itself into several pure strains.  

At that point, Dilldine will place small sections of a pure strain into a sterilized grain bag. The sealed bag is placed in a dark and cool incubator room to colonize the grain bag, essentially creating an almost limitless number of genetically identical mushrooms.

Next, Dilldine spreads the colonized grain into a series of substrate bags that contain soybean hulls and wood chips. Once the strain of mushrooms has spread throughout these substrate bags, he cuts the top of the bag off and places them in the “fruiting” chamber. 

The combination of fresh air, humidity, light and warm 70 degree air quickly triggers growth, and within a week or so, the familiar mushroom fruit will sprout upward out of the bag.

This controlled process allows Dilldine to create and produce genetically identical mushrooms with the same flavor, which is vitally important to restaurants aiming for consistency in creating their signature dish, sauce, or a weekly dinner special. 

Currently, Hyphal Knot is developing over 60 genetically unique strains of mushrooms. Through word of mouth advertising, Dilldine now sells mushrooms to several restaurants in Craig and Steamboat.

Hyphal Knot also sells mushrooms to individual customers. For more, Hyphal Knot can be reached at 970-367-6602.

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