I have always loved mushrooms, especially when they have been fried up in a little bit of butter. My exposure to gourmet mushrooms has been pretty limited until we moved to the pacific northwest. Mostly I had the typical white button and portobello mushrooms that you can find in almost any grocery store with an occasional shitake at a nicer asian restaurant. After moving to the PNW, I became exposed to a considerably wider variety of mushrooms; blue oysters, pink oysters, morels, chantrelles, lions mane, wine caps and many more. Most of these we found at the local farmers market and some are available for foraging in the state and national forests.
Hunting for chantrelles and morels is definitely something I am looking forward to when the weather conditions are right. However, while I wait for the right mushrooming season, I have been researching how to grow my own mushrooms. One of the best resources I have come across is Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets.
This is a very thorough book that covers everything from hobbyist to commercial mushroom production. Needless to say many of the methods seemed intimidating and somewhat complex for a complete rookie like myself. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Home Depot with the kids picking up some odds and ends and saw a mushroom growing kit on sale for about $12 and decided to buy it.
The kit is made by a company called Back to the Roots, it is their Organic Mushroom Grow Kit. This kit includes everything you need to grow a crop of oyster mushrooms. Below are the basic process to get started with the kit:
- Open the boxe and cut an X in the plastic covering where the cardboard window is.
- Remove the plastic bag of substrate and soak it (opening down) in a bowl of water over night.
- The next morning put the bag back in the box, lay it flat on its back (opening up) and add water everyday (1-2 tablespoons) to the substrate until you see the mushrooms pinning.
- Stand the box upright, stop the daily watering and watch them grow.
- Harvest after about a week after pinning.
So at the time of this writing we are about 4 days since pinning and the kids are anxious to harvest the mushrooms, maybe they will actually eat some of them!
Below are some pictures of our progress.
Here is them pinning:
Here is about 4 days after pinning: