Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grow Your Own Mushrooms

The story is this: I bought a mushroom growing kit as a gift for my husband as he is into gardening and loves to watch things grow. The kit came with a roll of toilet paper, a bag with a rubber band, mushroom spores and instructions (plus a 25% off coupon for your next order). Golden Oysters were the ‘shrooms-to-be. The instructions are lengthy and said if you didn’t start them right away to put the spores in the fridge.  They were not started right away so I put the spores in the fridge. They sat there for months. Realizing that my husband really wasn’t that interested I decided to try my hand at them. How much fun was this! It is a process that doesn’t take much skill, mostly patience but what an amazing thing to see happen. On the front end it takes nothing to start, the incubating period is long, but then the fruiting happens within days. Literally from the morning to the evening you can see the mushrooms growing. I was shocked. Maybe because the first part took so long but everyday I couldn’t wait to get up and check on my ‘shrooms to see their progress! Although they only produced a handful of mushrooms (I think due to the late start) I harvested them, sautéed them in some butter, sprinkled some salt and WOW. They were delightful. I am a proud mushroom mom!

The process starts (at least with the kit that I had) with soaking the toilet paper roll in water, you then place it in the bag provided and pour the spores down the center. Close up the bag with the rubber band and put it in a warm dark place (like in a cabinet in your kitchen) and wait (this is the incubation period). 1-3 weeks is all it takes for the roll to be covered in fluffy mycelium, then wait another 1-3 weeks, the longer the better and the faster the “fruiting” process will take.  At this point you place the bagged roll in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours to stimulate the fruiting process. Remove it to a room with light and open up the bag (I put it in my office so I could watch it!). Wait another 1-2 weeks and those babies will start popping! Once they do it is only a matter of a few days until the reach full potential. Harvest and eat, then repeat. You can continue using the same roll and spores over and over again…I am in my second run now and want to continue trying other types of mushrooms. I encourage you to try it. It is fun and is cool for kids (and adults!) to watch how they grow.
I ordered mine from: and the mushroom company website is:
There are several kits out there a simple Internet search will result in many options!
In fact for my birthday my husband gave me a new oyster mushroom growing kit that uses recycled coffee grounds and claims ‘shrooms in as little as 10 days…as well as a shiitake log, both from Farmer D’s:
I also went to the Grant Park Farmer’s Market and met a guy from Atlanta Gourmet Mushroom who also sells kits and mushrooms. He invited me to his place to see how he does it on a larger scale and also said they do foraging outings!!! How fun! Check him out!

Happy Mushroom Growing!
-Vanessa Parker McIntyre, the Urban Gatherer