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Oh, shiitake. January 29, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Please forgive our friend Ben the uncharacteristic vulgarity, I just couldn’t resist. Exciting times have come to Hawk’s Haven, the rural cottage our friend Ben and Silence Dogood share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA: We just received a package with two inoculated shiitake mushroom logs.

Silence and I have always wanted to grow our own mushrooms, but have frankly found the cost of mushroom-growing kits prohibitive. But this year, after an especially generous Christmas gift from Silence’s beloved family patriarch, Mr. Hays, we felt that it was safe to indulge. We were discussing making our mushrooming dreams come true when Daily Candy, an e-mail service Silence gets that reports on retail trends, featured a shiitake mushroom farm, Lost Creek Mushroom Farm in Perkins, Oklahoma, that specializes in shiitake mushroom logs. (Owners Sondra and Doug Williams insist that the name of these mushrooms is pronounced “she-TAH-kee,” not “she-ih-TAH-keh,” as our friend Ben has long thought.) Check them out for yourselves at www.shiitakemushroomlog.com.

Clicking the link, we found that you could get a special deal on two inoculated logs with soaking trays (these look like plastic terracotta-colored window boxes), so you could alternate their fruiting cycles, bringing one into mushroom production while the other one rested. By alternating the logs, you could have a crop of homegrown shiitakes every month for four years! Suddenly, the price didn’t seem that exhorbitant.

Log care is simple: You keep it hydrated, alternate the temperature (it needs a cold “shock” to fruit after the initial cycle), give it alternating light and dark cycles, and maintain comparatively cool temperatures (the ideal is 50 degree F. nights and moist 70 degree F. days).

In addition to extremely complete instructions, our logs arrived with a complimentary recipe booklet. Silence of course also ordered Janet Bratkovich’s Shiitake Sampler, also available from Lost Creek Mushroom Farm, which includes many more recipes, from Shiitake Turnovers and Shiitake and Barley Soup to Timbale Shiitake, Shish Kebab Shiitake, and Shiitake Pilaf.

Silence and I are eagerly anticipating harvesting mushrooms in about two months, and from then on monthly for years to come. We love the flavor and meaty texture of shiitakes, and enjoy including them in Silence’s signature Mushrooms and Sweet Onions in Madeira Wine Sauce with Rice as well as in Chinese and Indian dishes. Oh, shiitake! We’re so looking forward to you.

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Comments»

1. jodi (bloomingwriter) - January 30, 2010

MMMMM. I never met a (nontoxic) mushroom I didn’t love. Yesterday at the cafe I had a portobello mushroom melt sandwich that was just this side of heaven.

Yum!!! Maybe I’ll get some portobellos at the farmers’ market today with that sandwich in mind…

2. Tatyana - January 30, 2010

I am so happy for you, people! I was thinking about growing my own mushrooms so many times and never did it! Now, all eyes (at least, mine) are on you! Will wait for your mushroom reports!

Let’s hope we get the hang of it so we can keep the mushrooms coming, Tatyana! We’ll keep you appraised!

3. Daphne - January 30, 2010

I’ve thought about growing them for years but never have. I hope yours do well.

Our only previous experience with mushroom-growing came a few years ago when a good friend gave us a few “spent” strawbales inoculated by a couple that grows mushrooms commercially near here. The bales were wrapped in plastic and had holes punched in the plastic so the developing mushrooms could emerge. You were supposed to keep the bales warm and moist. To our delight, it worked! We harvested several bowls of mushrooms before the bales stopped producing and we composted them. The only trick was to keep your eyes on the plastic so you could cut new holes if the mushrooms started growing in non-standard locations. But it was tons of fun! Now we’re eagerly waiting to see how the shiitakes do.


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