Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

fungi fun!

one of my xmas gifts this year was a mushroom kit. i’ve wanted to try growing mushrooms for a long time, but the kits are semi-expensive (usually around $40), space-hogging and potentially messy, and mycelium plugs (which you drill into logs to colonize them) require more work and space, plus they take months to get going. but i found this compact little BTTRventures kit, only $20 and with a cool story:

We like to think we’ve mastered the art of waste reduction by transforming used coffee grounds into the substrate for this mushroom kit. After the mushrooms have been harvested, the leftover roots enrich the coffee grounds, turning them into premium compost for your plants and thus closing the loop on your BTTR Gourmet Garden.

BTTRventures stands for “Back To The Roots” and reflects our belief in 100% sustainability. We’re a team that’s passionate about refocusing the global economy towards the local community and creating a brighter, BTTR future.

BTTR kits grow pearl oyster mushrooms, and supposedly you can harvest up to 1.5lbs from one kit (although realistically i expect the yield to be much lower.) these will undeniably be the most expensive oyster mushrooms i’ve ever eaten, but it’s totally not about saving money, it’s about the experience of watching them grow. it’s an edible science project.

my first batch grew during the week jason and i were in mccall, so both of us got to watch them double in size practically every day. both of us checked the kit first thing every morning when we got up, then randomly throughout the day, and every time we looked i swear they were bigger. i don’t know how i’ll go back to growing tomatoes now--mushrooms are instant gratification by comparison.

here’s a timeline, with a gap of a few days because i kept forgetting to take pictures before it got dark out (camera flash can make mushrooms look really nasty.)






i harvested them on the 18th, about 10 days after the very first sign of growth. you’ll notice they look nothing like oyster mushrooms, and they turned a little brown, which i think is because they got too dry--i misted them way more than the instructions said to but they dried out fast. i’m starting a second batch now and i’m going to try draping a loose plastic bag over the kit to hold in humidity.

the dryness didn’t affect the taste one bit. i sautéed them in olive oil with salt and pepper, and they were delicious, better than any oyster mushroom i’ve eaten before--meaty, chewy, flavorful, and very substantial.

now that i know these things really work i’m feeling more generous about putting up the space and money for another kit. once this one’s finished producing i’d like to try this organic “trumpet royale” mushroom kit.