Zhu Ling mushrooms (Polyporus umbellatus) are popular in Chinese medicine as an anti-tumor remedy and strong antibiotic. They also work well as a treatment for urinary tract infections and as a diuretic. The mushroom's tuber is ground and made into a tea or eaten. To grow zhu ling mushrooms, use a spore syringe containing zhu Ling mushroom spores, available from mushroom retailers. When kept in a humid environment, the spores will grow into mushrooms, which can then be harvested.
Combine 1 to 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of vermiculite in a large bowl. Stir to moisten the vermiculite. Add more water as you go to create a small pool in the base of the bowl. Add 1/5 cup of brown rice flour. Stir until well mixed with the vermiculite.
Pour the mixture into a jar until it is 3/4 full, about 1/2 inch from the jar rim. There is no need to pack the mixture in the jar. Spoon in some dry vermiculite until the jar is completely full.
Cover the top of the jar with aluminum foil folded in half for thickness. The piece should be large enough to completely cover the mouth of the jar when folded in half. Tuck the sides of the foil down to tightly cover the jar opening.
Rip off another piece of foil. This one should be just large enough to cover the jar opening--half the size of the original piece (because you will not be folding this one). Put it on top of the foil that is already in place. This makes a third layer of foil, but this layer can easily be removed later on. Fold the corners down around the mouth of the jar.
Put a steamer basket or trivet inside a pressure cooker. Pour 1 inch of water in the base of the appliance. Place the jar inside and cover with the lid. Turn the pressure cooker on high and cook the jar for one hour.
Turn off the pressure cooker and take it off the stove. Remove the lid, allowing the jar to cool. Remove it from the cooker and take the top (smaller) piece of foil off the jar.
Hold a match or lighter to the tip of the spore syringe. Leave it there for up to 15 seconds.
Stick the needle containing the zhu ling spores through the remaining foil, into the glass jar. Drop 1 to 1.5 ml of the solution around the sides of the jar.
Recover the jar with the smaller piece of aluminum foil that you removed earlier. This will cover the holes made from the needle. Put the jar in an environment that stays a steady temperature of 70 to 81 degrees F.
Wait up to four days for small white spores to grow. These mycelium will spread and cover all the contents in the jar. It will take about two weeks for the entire jar to be white.
Put a 1/2-inch layer of wet paper towels in the bottom of a bucket. Pour the mycelium out of the jar, into the bucket. Cover it with a plastic bag. This will keep the moisture in and make the environment humid.
Get air to the spores once a day to promote growth by removing the plastic. Mist the zhu ling spores with a water sprayer to add moisture while the plastic is off.
Harvest the zhu ling mushrooms when they fruit (mature), which takes an additional two weeks from the time the spores turn white. They should be white to off-white in color and look like intertwined tentacles (see Resources below).