Grow Your Own Mushrooms
Today I want to touch on a topic near and dear to me: Mycology. Mycology is the study of fungi. Specifically, here we will look at growing your own mushrooms!
Mushrooms are an easy and delicious food source that can be harvested all year.
Some who have read my other posts will recall that I am a Medical Laboratory Scientist. I have taken two Mycology classes and have put them to use in the lab, but the stuff we grow there is definitely not what I want to talk about today, but I have used how we culture fungi in the lab to decide on what I believe to be the best methods for getting most kinds of fungi to grow.
In the lab, different types of agar are usually used to grow fungi based on the patient’s symptoms and the area. These include agar made with hay and potato even! Background knowledge is required in this environment to use the right substrate (the hay or potato) to not only encourage growth, but to help differentiate what is growing.
The good news when applying this to edible mushrooms, is there are less choices and growth is easier to facilitate. If you have felt intimidated by this before, don’t be!
For the purpose of this post, we will discuss growing oyster mushrooms. This is because they are extremely easy and commonly enjoyed. It has more flavor than button mushrooms but is still mild on the palate and complements a variety of recipes. Or can be eaten raw, which is my favorite 😊.
Let’s start with a growing medium.
Oyster mushrooms naturally grow in wood but really like straw as well.
Try to sterilize everything you can ahead of time. If you want a mushroom bed in a tote or crate or whatever, sterilize it, sterilize some soil or compost, sterilize the straw or sawdust. You can do this with boiling water, it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. I have only done this in a tote, but when I finally get back to where I want to be, I will be doing this in logs.
You can also grow in a bucket of coffee grounds from beginning to end.
To use a log, just drill holes into the log, these will be the receptacles for your mycelium (mushroom spawn, filaments, whatever you want to call them. They are the white threadlike growths that will give you mushrooms).
I’ve jumped ahead a little, but you want this planned out anyway.
Now let’s get to the good part, how to grow.
You will want to sterilize a mason jar or 5, depending on how many you to start with. Next, make yourself sever pots of coffee. Or the coffee grounds from several days, but you want these sterile, so throw them in some boiling water if they are already cold. The strain and get as much water out as you can but leave a little damp. This will be all the water they will need.
Now take a couple of oyster mushrooms, these can even be store bought, and stick these in the coffee grounds, inside the jar. You can really just lay them on top. Not all will work. It is not a sure thing, but at least one will. The mycelium grows from the living parts of the mushroom. Cutting the stem, especially if it has white fuzz already on it, into more sections will increase chances.
Bonus tip: If you see mushrooms in the store with white “mold” looking stuff growing on the stems, these are the ones you want.
Mushrooms like carbon dioxide, so put the lid on. You can open it about once a week. Now you just sit it in a corner and check on it every so often. You want white fuzz, if at any point you see green, it is contaminated and this jar needs thrown out.
Once you have white fuzz successfully growing on the surface, you can add more coffee grounds to get even more, or you can go ahead an inoculate this into your growing medium.
You can skip all of this by buying spores if you want a sure thing.
To do this you really just need to gently scoop some out with coffee grounds and place them on the medium (or in your drilled holes in the log)
Care is simple. Mushrooms like dark and damp. Basements are ideal. Keep them damp by spritzing with water at least once a day, depending on the humidity. While they like room temperatures for mycelium, they like it a little cooler when they are sprouting into beautiful, delicious mushrooms. Around 55F to 60F is ideal.
Harvesting is easy as well. When the mushroom growing it is convex. This means the edges of the cap are turned down. They are ready to harvest when the cap starts to curve up or become concave. These only takes a few days from the time the mushroom forms. They are often “sprouting” out more fuzz already, which is fine and will not hurt you. You can even leave some of the stem to continue producing more.
Yet another relatively effortless method that leaves you enjoying the “fruits” of your labor 😀