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April Rains Bring Out the Mushrooms: Grow Your Own Shiitakes on a Log Indoors and Out
Spring is the peak season for wild mushrooms to break through the ground and for shiitake mushrooms to break through the bark of shiitake mushroom log kits. Sandra Williams of Lost Creek Mushroom farm tells the story of how mushrooms grow.
“It seems that wild mushrooms come up overnight,” she added, “but like seeds under winter snow, they've been months in the making. Their delicate fibers, called mycelia, mate -- mushrooms have four sexes -- connect under the ground or inside the log and give birth to mushrooms."
According to Williams, spring and fall are the natural fruiting seasons for shiitakes, "70 degree days and 50 degree nights with rain."
Lost Creek’s organic shiitake logs have been injected, or inoculated, with spawn, the mushroom seed material. The spawn "runs" through the log for eight months to a year or more, until the entire log has a layer of pure white shiitake mycelia growing under the bark.
Williams explained, “A small colony forms, producing two or three mushrooms. Then another colony grows someplace else on the log, and another. Finally these separate colonies connect and the whole log can be covered with shiitakes. That process continues for two to three years and then tapers off as the shiitake consumes the log."
Lost Creek Mushroom Farm shiitake logs grow indoors like plants or can be placed outside in shady areas. With regular soaking in non-chlorinated water, the logs produce a crop of mushrooms every two months with increasingly larger harvests. Soaking in ice water fools the log into thinking it's the spring or fall rainy season and triggers the mushroom “fruiting”
Shiitakes are the second-most popular mushroom worldwide, valued for their flavor, meaty texture, and nutritional benefits. "Most are grown on sterilized sawdust blocks. Many chefs hadn't seen log-grown shiitakes before we brought them in," Williams said. "The chefs were delighted with their firmer texture and deeper flavor.”
“As a functional food, shiitakes have a very high energy,” Williams said, “They increase our sense of well being and joyful expression. According to legend, ancient peoples ate them as a remedy for grieving.” High in protein and low in fat, shiitakes are proven to stimulate and strengthen the immune system and can help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. “In concentrated form, shiitake compounds are used to treat cancer and AIDS in Japan and, more recently, in the US,” Williams added. “Research has shown that log-grown shiitakes have greater health-potency levels compared to sawdust-grown commercial shiitakes.”
Lost Creek Mushroom Farm shiitake logs are guaranteed to grow shiitakes. Kits include full instructions and a recipe booklet. The original 14” log kit provides a tray for soaking, fruiting and resting the log and sells for $43.95. The Ma and Pa kit, with two 9-10-inch logs will provide shiitakes every month by alternating the producing log and sells for $47.50. A single 10-inch log (no tray) sells for $27,85. All prices include shipping and handling.
Lost Creek also offers a variety of mushroom products including gift baskets, “Shiitake Happens” bumper stickers, shiitake dip mixes and “The Shiitake Sampler Cookbook” by Janet Bratkovich. “The Shiitake Sampler” has over 50 shiitake recipes from appetizers to main dishes for $7.95, when shipped with a log kit. Shipped alone, the cookbook sells for $9.95.
A portion of sales goes to Mushrooms in Ghana (www.mushroomsinghana.org)
Online information and ordering are available at www.shiitakemushroomlog.com and at Amazon.com for slightly higher prices. To order by phone, call 800-792-0053. The Lost Creek Mushroom Farm mailing address is P.O. Box 520, Perkins, OK 74059-0520.
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Shiitake mushroom log kits, gifts, soup and dip mixes. In business since 1993. Owners Doug & Sandra Williams founded the humanitarian project, Mushrooms in Ghana and contribute a portion of all sales. Promoting ancient lore about the magic of edible mushrooms such as shiitake, reishi, and more.