I have written a lot of posts in the past about our mushroom foraging adventures but we'd never tried growing our own up until now. For Christmas I bought Lee an Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit, it cost me around £15. This week we harvested our first batch of pink oysters and it was hugely satisfying.
Growing fancy gourmet mushrooms isn't as hard as you would think. Our kit came from Urban Farm-it - in the kit you'll get: a cardboard box, the substrate bag (which is basically straw in a black sack) a lining bag and your bag of mushroom spawn plus an instruction booklet. We also bought a spray mister bottle from Amazon.
I would recommend reading the guide a couple of times through first. You will need to open up the black bag which contains the substrate (straw) and add 3 litres of boiling water to it. Best to do this in a sink. We then closed the bag with some gaffer tape and left it overnight to pasteurise in a bucket.
The next morning I cut a slit in the bottom corners of the black bag to let the water drain out, I left it on the draining board until there was no more water leaking out and then taped the corners up with gaffer tape.
It is really important to make sure your hands (and arms) are clean before you add the mushroom spawn. Un-tape the top of the substrate bag and crumble in the mushroom spawn mixing it though the straw substrate with your hands. Fold the top of the bag multiple times and tape or peg it together.
You then cut x-shaped slits in the front and back face of the substrate bag (about 3 cm across) I cut about 6 slits on each side of the bag. These are where the mushrooms will push through. The substrate bag then goes into a thin white liner bag and back into the cardboard box. Close the cardboard box and put it away somewhere, we had ours in the under-stairs cupboard where it is a warm temperature (18-24 degrees centigrade). We then had to just leave it alone in there for 2 weeks.
When the two weeks was up, we took the box out, opened it up, stood the substrate bag upright in the cardboard box with the lining bag covering the open flaps of the box. The lining bag helps retain a moist environment. The box needs to be in a place with natural light but not direct sunlight so out table was a good place for it. I sprayed the bag twice a day and also made sure I was spraying the liner. I did move the box around a few times to make sure they were getting enough light. I ended up ditching the cardboard box as the bottom had got very soggy and using a shopping bag instead.
It can take anything from 10 days upwards (even 30 days) for the first flush of mushrooms. Our first "pin" showed up after around 20 days which was very exciting.
Then more started to grow in small clumps. These quickly doubled in size daily. Once they start growing they need to be sprayed with the water mister three times a day.
They are ready to harvest when they mushrooms start to curl upwards at the edges. They are also beautiful to look at, almost like coral or exotic flowers.
To harvest the mushrooms you need to twist from the bottom of the the clump and pull. Before eating cut off the stems as these are tough. I fried mine with some ginger, sugarsnap peas and peppers and had them with noodles. and they were delicious. They have an umami sort of flavour hard to describe really but they do have a meaty texture.
Apparently if we continue to water the bag we should get another flush in around 10 to 20 days. This kit could produce 4 or 5 flushes of pink oysters and after that it can be composted.
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