Gourmet mushrooms in the grocery store can be an expensive addition to your recipes. They do, however, bring a unique richness and taste that cannot be replicated with plain button mushrooms. Growing your own gourmet mushrooms can save you money and be a fun project to work on with the kids. You can choose from portabella, oyster, reishi, morel or shiitaki. Pre-spored mushroom kits make growing a variety of the tasty fungi at home easy and fun.
Read thoroughly the specific instructions that come with the mushroom kit. Growing each variety of mushroom require a slightly different set of tasks but follow the same basic process.
Soak the mushroom log overnight in non-chlorinated water. If using tap water, allow the water to sit out for four or more hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate. Fill a 3-gallon or larger bucket with enough water to cover the log. Place a brick or other heavy object on top of the log to keep it from floating so it absorbs the water. Alternatively, leave the log in the plastic bag it was shipped in and fill the bag with water in the kitchen sink.
Remove the block after soaking overnight and set it in a shallow pan or tray. Insert five chopsticks or knitting needles into the top of each mushroom log; one at each corner and one in the middle. Insert just far enough to keep the sticks stable.
Invert a vented plastic bag over the sticks to form a humidity tent over the mushroom log. The plastic bag should not touch the top or the sides of the log and should hang loosely around the pan.
Place the mushroom log in an area that does not receive direct sunlight. It does not need complete darkness. The temperature should remain between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the bag and mist the mushroom log at least twice per day to maintain high humidity. Check occasionally to ensure the holes in the bag allow air to circulate around the log. When mushroom growth begins (between two and six weeks, depending on the variety), reduce misting to once per day.
Harvest the largest mushrooms when they reach the desired size by slicing the stems horizontally with a sharp paring knife. Continue to harvest regularly until growth slows down.