Thursday, March 10, 2011

Call me a mycophage

I'm taking two classes this semester that have allowed me to experiment with a bit of mycogardening. Through my new experiences with Kingdom Fungi - both in an academic and an agricultural sense - it seems my love of mushrooms has come full circle. The dream of cultivating and subsequently eating my own mushroom crops is alluring, with an appetizing earthy scent. 

In the pictures below you can see closeups of these two gorgeous specimens. The mushroom on top is a Golden Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus citrinopileatus) with a very distinctive trumpet shape and ridges instead of gills. This mushroom was grown on toilet paper as the substrate but the white substance you can see here is all hyphae! Cool huh? Did you know that what we know as mushrooms are actually just the "fruits" of extensive hyphae networks that make up the true mycelial body of the fungus? And below are two Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) harvested from an inoculated sweet gum log.You've seen these in the grocery store, but you've never tasted them this fresh, moist and tender.

Want to learn how to grow your own mushrooms? Read on to the end of this post!

Now, edible mushrooms are best cooked, so with these lovely edibles at my finger tips I decided to fix up a mushroom omlette with red onions, green onions, sharp white cheddar cheese and fresh dill. I think I could become a fungivore. 

Oh and keep your eyes out when walking in the forest from now until mid April because it's Morel (Morchella sp.) season in Georgia!

Growing Oyster Mushrooms on Toilet Paper


unbleached toilet paper
aluminum pot pie pan refrigerated 
inoculum of Pleurotus cornucopoides (Golden Oyster Mushroom) 
Available from Field and Forest Products, Inc., at at about $23.00 for 4 lbs. of innoculant
disposable gloves
70% ethanol (optional if you have another way of making a very clean surface)
paper towels
clear plastic Ziploc bags, 1.0 gallon size
disposable plastic cup (at least 50 mL), optional

  1. Place the toilet paper roll in a chicken pot pie pan.
  2. Boil some water and slowly add the water to the center of the toilet paper roll until the roll is saturated (about 700 mL).
  3. Put on gloves. Spray the table with 70% ethanol and wipe down with a paper towel. This is to prevent contamination. 
  4. Label a clear, 1.0 gallon size plastic Ziploc bag with the date and inoculum. 
  5. Remove the cardboard core of the roll. It should slip out easily.
  6. Weigh out 50 grams (about 1-2 shot glasses worth) of the inoculum into a plastic up and distribute the inoculum uniformly over and in the center of the paper roll. Place the pan with the inoculated toilet paper roll into the center of the plastic bag such that the bag and the pan can sit upright. Seal the bag.
  7. Incubate the bag in an incubator or a warm setting at 30 C or 86 F. 
  8. For the next two weeks, open the bag periodically for good air exchange and maintain in the incubator. During this time a dense, white, mycelial growth will cover the roll.
  9. On day 15, put the paper towel roll in the refrigerator for two days. This convinces the fungi it is fall and time to fruit.
  10. On day 17, take the roll out of the refrigerator. Keep the roll in the plastic bag and maintain a humid environment by spraying with a water bottle. The mushrooms should begin to show in 12 to 17 days. For golden oyster mushrooms, a minimum of 12 hours of light is recommended.
  11. Harvest the mushrooms before the spores are released.

Inoculating Logs for Shiitake Mushroom Production
for 30 logs

30     logs, each approximately 30” in length
2       saw horses
         eye protection
         ear protection
         electrical drill with 12-mm stop bit
         wax (cheese wax is preferred)
         hot plate
         thermometer (capable of recording up to 450 °f)
30     metal tags
1       table to inoculate logs
2       stainless steel buckets
       You can  order the L. edodes spawn from Field and Forest Products as well, but this needs to be ordered in advance (about a couple months) in order for the spawn to grown on the substrate (usually sawdust). Spawn is available in different strains which are grouped based on temperatures required for fruiting, including CW = cold weather [winter], WW = warm weather [summer], and WR = wild range [both winter and summer].  Both WW and WR strains colonize the wood faster than CW strains. The cost is about $23.00 for 5 lbs.
         inoculating handles
         brush (for hot wax)
         cling wrap
         fire extinguisher
1)         Put on eye protection and ear protection. 
2)         Turn on hot plate and put in wax to melt. Add a thermometer to measure the temperature. The crucial temperature is 450 °F; above this temperature, the wax catches on fire. You’ll know that you are close when you observe blue smoke. If this happens, immediately remove the wax from the heat. It will explode if overheated.
3)         Set up saw horses to the appropriate height.
4)         Spread out logs.  
5)         Mix the fungal inoculum within the bag by hand until relatively uniform. Place the mixture in a stainless steel bucket. If all the mixture is not being used at the moment, cover the mixture with cling wrap to prevent it from drying out. The inoculum is sensitive to drying out.
6)         Drill the first row of holes at every 6 inches. The angle grinder has a safety on it and it must be depressed in order for the grinder to start. 
7)         After the first row of holes is drilled, turn the log 2 to 3” and move the log 3” to the right.  Drill the next row according to the jig. This makes a diamond pattern of holes that allows for optimal mycelial growth (the fungus colonizes quickly with the grain and slowly across the grain).
8)         Repeat Step #7 until the log is fully holey.    
9)         With the brass inoculator, add inoculum to each hole. The test for ensuring that each hole has the right amount of inoculum is to press the top of the plug:  it shouldn’t budge. 
10)      With a small applicator brush, paint on wax. If the hole is not sealed properly, then the inoculum will dry out. The key is to apply the wax really hot, between 350°F (177°C) and 400°F (204°C).  However, it is important to remember that the flash point of hot wax is 450°F (232°C): if the wax begins to smokes, it is approaching its flash point. Watch out!  
11)     Write two lines of information on a metal tag. On the first line, write the strain number (e.g., WW70) and the date. Staple the metal tag on the smaller of the two log ends.  
12)  Store your inoculated log out of direct sunlight. This could be in the woods behind your house or in a shed. It is important to ensure that the log continues to retain moisture - this is very important if it is being stored in a place where it will not be watered by rain. The easiest way to ensure moisture is to place the bottom of the log in a small tub that you can fill every week or so. 
       **If you are interested in large production, it would be smart to calculate the Oven Dry Weight of the log such that you can monitor the moisture accurately by weighing the log every once in a while. I have not gone into this here, but if you want to know more, just ask. 
All mushroom techniques came from Dr. Peter Hartel

No comments:

Post a Comment