How To Grow Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms

Overview

Mushroom cultivation can be rewarding and interesting to watch, especially if you are growing them for your own medicinal or gourmet purposes. Mushrooms have been used in the medical and culinary world for centuries, and they can also add a nutrient rich element to your landscape. There are several things to keep in mind when growing mushrooms in order to have a successful harvest, but with some careful preparation you can become a mycologist.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Step 1

Purchase a mushroom spore syringe, since mushrooms aren't grown from seeds. You can find these syringes at the Spore Bank website.

Step 2

Sterilize the mason jars by placing them into a pressure cooker. Let the jars cool for 10 hours.

Step 3

Put the substrate of your choice (you can use brown rice flour, whole grain, or wild bird seed to name a few) into the mason jars. Poke four holes into each of the lids. Stuff the holes with polyfill to make sure contaminants don't get in.

Step 4

Bring the jars to a cool dry room to inoculate them. Use a lighter to heat the needle's tip from the syringe. Then soak a cotton ball in the rubbing alcohol and swab the needle with it to prevent any contaminants from spreading. Insert the syringe into the jar and inject 100 ccs of spore liquid into the substrate. Do this for each of the four holes of each jar, swabbing the needle after each injection with the rubbing alcohol cotton ball.

Step 5

Place the jars out of direct sunlight where the temperature is about 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a heating pad underneath the jars if this is not possible. Keep an eye on the jars during this incubation period, which is where the white cobweb-like material (called mycelium) will begin to grow. Check a few times a day for mold or other contaminants that may have spread. Discard of any jars that turn black, green, or any color besides pure white.

Step 6

Fruiting starts when the substrate in the jars is completely overtaken by the white mycelium, making the materials stick together, resembling a small cake or hamburger patty shape. When this happens, fill a Tupperware container with about a 1 inch layer of perlite (to help create moisture). Place each cake in a Tupperware container and put the lid on top. Four to seven times a day, open the container and fan the cake with the lid. You should see mushroom pinheads start to sprout within a week or so. Pick them when the reach maturity.

Gourmet Mushrooms

Step 1

Find and purchase a gourmet mushroom growing kit, which is available online or at nurseries. You can find kits where the mushrooms are grown from spawn, plugs (dense medium which has been infused with spawn) or mushroom-seeded compost. Do some research to find the tastes and textures that work best for you and your culinary uses. Make sure to follow the directions on the mushroom kit exactly, as it can differ depending on the mushroom and kit you purchase.

Step 2

Keep your mushroom kit in a room with stable temperatures, ideally around 65 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Give the mushrooms indirect sunlight or light for better quality mushrooms.

Step 4

Mist the mushroom daily with a spray bottle, as humidity is ideal for them to develop and flourish. Provide maximum air circulation, as they need a consistent flow of air so carbon dioxide doesn't build.

Step 5

Harvest your mushrooms when the veil that secures the cap to the stem begins to tear. This is usually about two weeks. The size of the mushroom will vary depending on the variety that you used, and may range from the size of a peanut to a baseball. Examine the block daily for mushrooms. Make sure not to cut mushrooms from the block, but twist and gently pull them.

Things You'll Need

  • Spore syringe
  • Mason jars
  • Substrate
  • Pressure cooker
  • Polyfill
  • Lighter
  • Cotton balls
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Mushroom kit
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Heating pad, if necessary

References

  • Spore Bank
  • Growing Mushrooms
  • Growing Gourmet Mushrooms

Who Can Help

  • Using a Pressure Cooker
Keywords: growing mushrooms, planting mushrooms, gourmet mushrooms

About this Author

Lauren Wise is a journalism major from Arizona State University with over forty published magazine and media articles and over 400 Web site articles. Wise owns Midnight Publishing with over eight years experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food and wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in magazines including Runway, A2Z, Scottsdale Luxury Living and True West.