Branden Janikowskioffers a variety of mushrooms.

Branden Janikowskioffers a variety of mushrooms.

Standing behind baskets of gourmet mushrooms, Branden Janikowski briefly reflects on his 8-year career as a bookkeeper.

“I wasn’t digging that,” he says.

He’d always wanted to be a farmer, but he didn’t have enough land for vegetables. Then he discovered he could grow mushrooms in a greenhouse, which requires much less space.

“I was initially doing it as a hobby,” he said.

Noticing a dearth of mushroom growers, he decided to leave his job as a bookkeeper and go full bore into spores.

Branden’s Gourmet Mushrooms offers a variety of edibles, including  king oyster, maitake and pioppino mushrooms. He charges $5 per basket.

“Each one has its own flavor,” Janikowski said.

Grown in sterilized sawdust in Janikowski’s greenhouse, the mushrooms originate from different countries.

The pioppino mushroom (pictured with Janikowski above) is known for its intense forest flavor, and it features a soft, silky texture. (The stems have a texture similar to asparagus, Janikowski notes.) The pioppino can be cooked in almost any method, though he recommends sauteing, broiling or baking. The mushrooms are excellent on their own, with pastas or red meats.

Janikoski sells his mushrooms at the Arroyo Grande farmers’ market (Wednesday, 8:30-11 a.m., at the Smart & Final lot) and the Saturday morning farmers’ market in San Luis Obispo (8:10-10:45 a.m.l, outside World Market). In July, he will begin selling at the Downtown San Luis Obispo farmers’ market (6:10-9 p.m.)