Grow Your Own Mushrooms - Growing your Own is Easy
One way to have a plentiful supply all year round is to grow your own mushrooms.
If you are lucky enough to live in the countryside, there may be a ready supply of wild mushrooms around for you to pick your own.
However, unless you are absolutely certain of what type of mushroom is growing near you, don't be tempted to guess and assume the ones you are picking for eating are safe.
Poisonous mushrooms kill.
The safest way to know what type of mushroom you have for your kitchen is to get into the habit of growing your own. They are not hard to grow. All you have to do is provide them with their preferred growing environment and they do the rest.
Book on Mushroom Identification
Know your mushrooms before you cook them. One way to know is to buy them in a shop, or to buy a mushroom kit from a reliable seller.
After you have grown your own, you will be better able to identify those you find in the wild, although it is always advisable to have a reference book to hand. In this article, I hope to encourage an interest in these remarkable fungii, and show what they can do for our health.
Morel mushrooms have a very distinctive shape as seen here.
In the wild they can be found growing on old apple trees, dead and dying elms, sycamores, ash and tulip trees.
Of the different edible varieties there are the common or yellow morel (morchella esculenta), the white morel (m.deliciosa) and the black morel (m.elata).
It has been suggested that the first time you try this mushroom, you should slice lengthways, fry lightly in butter and serve on toast so that it's slightly nutty taste can be appreciated.
The morel mushroom can be frozen or dried for later use.
Morel Mushroom Growing Kit at Amazon
Where the morel mushroom grows wild, take extreme caution when collecting any, because in the same situation you will find it's deadly cousin, the false morel (gyromitra esculenta). The false morel mushroom is squatter and it's head more brain-like, and if ingested is deadly as it attacks all your major internal organs resulting in death from liver damage.
An important difference is when you slice it open lengthways, the false morel is solid on the inside, where the real morel is hollow.
The shiitake mushroom has taken America by storm, not only for it's delicious smoky flavour, but for its health-giving properties.
Originally grown and used by the Chinese for 6000 years, where it is well-known for its health benefits, the shiitake mushroom has been found to contain lentinan, a substance that has shown remarkable qualities in the treatment of cancers. When ingested, the body has produced reticular cells, which are immune cells that eat damaged or cancerous cells.
Lentinan has also been proven to boost the immune system, assisting HIV sufferers, fighting infection and is also proven to be more effective against viruses like colds and influenza than any prescription drug.
Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium and also contain a massive 20% of the daily recommended dose of iron.
They also contain eritadenine, which when fed to laboratory rats, lowered cholesterol.
To top it all, shiitake mushrooms have been found to be the top food source of the anti-oxidant, L-ergothioneine, which is NOT destroyed by cooking.
Shiitake mushrooms can be kept in a paper bag in the fridge for about 1 week, or dried to keep forever, or frozen when it will keep in a home freezer for up to a year.
Note: shiitake mushrooms contain purines, which are especially bad for people with kidney or gout problems.
Chicken-of-the-Woods Mushroom Kit at Amazon
Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms
Sometimes known as the sulphur polypore, laetiporus sulphureus is often found in the wild on the barks of the oak, yew, cherrywood, sweet chestnut and willow trees.
When found growing on conifers and eucalyptus trees they are considered inedible.
They are best harvested when young and tender as when they get older they become sour and woody.
Chicken of the Woods mushroom is best used as a chicken substitute, or chopped up and cooked with chicken, as it has a chickeny-flavour and texture, though it also has a strong fungus flavour and woody smell, which can be off-putting to some.
Chicken of the Woods do not store well, though they can be frozen if chopped up ad lightly fried in butter first. It cannot be dried.
It's health giving benefit is that it contains a substance that kills staph. aureus, a common but particularly nasty bacteria.
Some people can show an allergic reaction to this mushroom, so if trying for the first time it is advisable to only take a little bit to see how well it sits with you.
The Reishi is an extraordinary mushroom in terms of its health giving benefits. Like the shiitake, Reishi mushrooms have been grown for centuries in ancient China where it's benefits were well-known, and it's only now the Western world is catching up and catching on.
Reishi mushrooms are also known as Lingzhi or Ling Chi and are a recognised medicinal mushroom, with extracts being available in health food shops. It's botanical name is ganoderma (meaning 'shiny top') lucidum.
Among the claim to fame of the reishi mushroom are immune system boostng, cholesterol lowering, infection fighting, sleep giving, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer - in fact the Japanese government recognise it as an anti-cancer drug - to name but a few of it's abilities. There are too many to list here, so if you need to read more I suggest you look here : Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
The botanical name for Oyster mushroom is pleurotus ostreatus, and like their name suggest, they have a slight oyster and peppery flavour and are best used in Eastern-type cookery in soups, sauces and stir-frys with soy sauce.
Again, Oyster mushrooms are best eaten when young, as they tend tecome leathery and sour as they get older.
Oyster mushrooms mature in the autumn, and are found on old dead deciduous trees throughout the temperate and sub-tropical regions of the world, especially in areas of higher rainfall.
They can also be considered medicinal as they contain higher levels of locastatin which lowers cholesterol, and is reputed to have some anti-cancer agents.
It is inadvisable to eat Oyster mushrooms raw as they contains natural toxins that could interfere with the digestive process. However, cooking kills these toxins as well as any bacteria that may be present.
Once picked, Oyster mushrooms can be frozen, dried, pickled or canned for later use.
Oyster Mushrooms in the Wild
White Button mushrooms
Button mushrooms are best grown at between 63 - 68 degrees F. Temperatures above 86C will kill the spores and below 55F will put them into hibernation. Freezing will kill some spores, but not all.
If you buy the White Button mushroom kit online, as shown here, you need to start them off right away or within a week or two of its arrival. If you are not going to be abe to start it off right away, it can safely be stored in the refrigerator until you can use it.
Normally these kits come with mushroom compost already full of mushroom spawn or spores and all you have to do is add water. Your first White Button mushrooms should be ready for picking in about 3 weeks, and will continue producing at about fortnightly intervals for about another 3 months.
Agaricus bisporus, or white button mushroom is the common mushroom normally bought in stores, and the one most of us are used to using. This same mushroom in maturity is known as the portobello mushroom.
Health Benefits - there are studies to show that this mushroom can reduce breast cancer incidences of over 60% in women who regularly eat them. The studies show that they inhibit a substance called aromatase, which in turn lowers estrogen levels in the body. This same study also showed that women who drink green tea along with their mushroom intake, reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by a massive 90% which is excellent news for women whose family have suffered from this. (Breast cancer frequently runs in families).
There is also evidence to suggest that the button mushrooms boost the immune system.
The downside risk of eating this type of mushroom is that there is an added risk of vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating, gas and discomfort for the minority of people who are sensitive to chitin, a compound also found in the common mushroom.
More Mushroom Kits at Amazon
There are many other varieties of mushroom you can grow at home, and you don't have to buy a kit although they are useful for the beginner and for those without a garden.
If you can find someone to sell or give you mushroom spawn plugs, you can drill holes in an old log and insert the plugs, cover with wax - cheese wax is best but if you can't get any, use candle wax (this is to protect the plugs from attack by insects).
Water well and leave in a shady corner of your garden, underneath a tree or outhouse for example, and you will be rewarded in due course by baby mushrooms popping out of the sealed holes you drilled.
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Special thanks go to the following web sites for information in the making of this hub.
- Agaricus bisporus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Oyster mushroom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- National Centre for Biotechnology Education | Equipment and materials | Oyster mushroom
- Laetiporus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Identifying Edible Mushrooms. Chicken of the Woods
Identifying Edible Mushrooms. Chicken of the Woods. How to Identify Wild Mushrooms. UKs largest fungi lovers site packed with information about wild mushrooms and how to identify wild mushrooms
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