How I Entered the World of Mushroom Growing
My curious yet passive interest in mushrooms began in the spring 2 years ago when my son Sam and I took a beginning mushroom growing class. It was taught by Steve Gabriel, an Agroforestry and Mushroom Specialist. He was so inspiring that we both became determined to begin learning more about mushrooms and growing them ourselves. That passive interest made an about face and the journey began!
The first summer after the class I ordered some oyster mushroom spawn, some growing bags and bought some local straw. I sterilized batches of straw in large cooking pots in my kitchen, drained the straw and layered the mushroom spawn and the straw until the bag was packed. Down to the barn the bags went to hang in a dark naturally humid stall. Punctures were placed all over the bag so that after the mycelium was fully colonized and the bags were moved to another stall with light the mushrooms would begin to emerge through the openings and they did! Beautiful, glorious oyster mushrooms. They did so well that I ordered more varieties of oysters. They all had unique tastes. I had enough that I used them in our Chicken and Mushroom Pies, Quiches and Mushroom Soup.
Now that my confidence in growing mushrooms had set in, I enrolled in a Cornell online Mushroom Growing class last winter. It was fascinating. Guest lecturers who had their own mushroom growing businesses of various sizes shared their experiences. I was hooked, motivated and ready to grow and of course cook and bake with my results.
I used not to be a fan of Lion’s Mane I think it was the texture that I didn’t like. With some encouragement from Sam I opened up my mind. He taught me how to cook it properly and most importantly he told me about the possible health benefits of this amazing mushroom. It has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine throughout history. It is purported to have beneficial effects based on three properties: it decreases inflammation, acts as an antioxidant, and stimulates the immune system. Currently these claims are only supported by limited, low quality clinical studies. Perhaps as accessibility to mushrooms expands more research will be done to examine the health benefits. Well this all seemed very interesting so it was time to dive in and grow some!
Sam ordered me 10 x 7pound blocks of Lion’s Mane. The inoculated blocks of mushrooms were placed on a rack in a tent with a humidifier and lights. Within 3 weeks there were over 11 pounds of beautiful Lion’s Mane. I must confess we ate quite a bit. We put them in eggs, quiches and soup. We also sold them to local restaurants.
I plan to continue my mushroom growing journey with Sam and with my other son Zachary. There are so many other types to grow and I look forward to experimenting on different growing mediums. Additionally, they are a delicious and healthy ingredient to add to our line of Noble Pie products. I will be sharing what we learn in future blogs and will be sharing the results of our efforts at our bakery for you to enjoy.