Our mushroom fruiting block kits are fully colonized and ready to grow. Each block measures ~9x6x6 inches and weighs ~5lbs.
Shiitake mushroom kits are one of the easiest of all our fruiting block kits for confident beginners. They are very reliable producers as long as the ambient humidity in their growing environment remains consistent. Because the block is removed entirely from the bag, they are prone to drying out. Therefore, we recommend using a humidity tent or humidity-controlled fruiting chamber to help mitigate the moisture issue.
These mushrooms are widely used in East Asia and lend themselves to the aromatic and bold flavors of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Try pairing them with soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice cooking wine), ginger, and garlic. We love to grow shiitake mushrooms at home and marinate them with these ingredients and then skewer them for the grill.
Your shiitake fruiting block kit is an amended sawdust block that has been completely colonized by mycelium. Wait to start growing your block until it has turned mostly brown before opening the bag to begin growing (See photos in carousel for reference). Once the block is mostly brown, place the block (still inside the unopened bag) in the refrigerator overnight. The following morning, remove the bag from the fridge, remove the block from the bag, and discard the plastic bag.
Next, soak your block in cold water for four hours. As it will want to float, you may need to place something heavy (like a pot or pan) on top of it while it soaks.
Next, remove the shiitake block from it's cold water bath and place it on a plate. Shiitake growing requires proper humidity and ventilation to survive. Place your block in the most humid part of your home and away from direct sunlight. (We recommend putting your block on a kitchen counter somewhat close to a sink)
In the winter months, or if your home is really dry, you may want to make a humidity tent to place over your block. Simply take a trash bag or other loosely fitting plastic bag and put plenty of ½-inch holes in it. (This is important: Mushrooms exhale CO2 and inhale oxygen. They will suffocate themselves if there isn’t adequate airflow. If you see shiitake mushrooms growing strangely or having unusually fat stems, it’s usually because they need more air.) Spray the outside of your block at least once per day until the block forms baby mushrooms (called “pins”).
Harvest your mushrooms when they resemble the ones in the photographs. Harvest before the caps flatten out and become soft or soggy. Growing shiitake mushrooms can happen quickly, so when you spot your first mushroom pins, keep a close eye on them. The warmer the environment, the faster shiitake mushrooms will grow. Mushrooms should be ready to harvest 4 to 10 days after pin formation.
When growing shiitake mushrooms, you can expect one harvest, but you may choose to attempt a second fruiting off your block. Harvests usually diminish in size with each consecutive fruiting. We recommend giving your block a one-week break from spraying and then soaking your block in cold water for 20 minutes and restarting the process of spraying your block with water daily.
Shiitake mushrooms can be used as a tonic to promote overall liver and kidney health (Marley, 2009). They also contain high concentrations of the substance eritadenine, which may be helpful in lowering blood cholesterol levels (Enman et al., 2007).
We also offer shiitake plug spawn, which works best with hardwood logs. Plugs are hammered into a number of deep holes in the log. When well taken care of, shiitake logs with sufficient spawn in the drill holes can produce mushrooms for up to five years.
IMPORTANT: Cautions & Considerations
If you’re going to consume home-grown mushrooms, make sure to cook your fresh mushrooms thoroughly with heat. If it is your first time eating this species, it is best to start with a small amount to check for allergies, even if cooked.
Mushrooms grow spores as they develop. This is a natural means of reproduction. This is when people with allergies or compromised immune systems may want to consider putting fruiting mushroom kits outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Spores in mushrooms sometimes cause respiratory irritation. In rare cases, spores may also cause irritation for some non-allergic or non-immunocompromised mushroom growers. If you are one of them, it is recommended to reduce the overall spore load by harvesting mushrooms while they are still in their younger growth stages.